Unique Irish Wake museum opens in Waterford tracing traditions around death

Unique Irish Wake Museum Opens In Waterford Tracing Traditions Around Death
Tour Guide 'Funeral Director' Jamie Murphy at The Irish Wake Museum Waterford. Photo: Patrick Browne
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Katie Mellett

The oldest urban domestic building in Ireland is now home to Ireland’s newest museum which traces the customs, traditions and superstitions associated with death from the earliest times to the 20th century.

The Irish Wake Museum located at what was the former Dean John Collyn’s Almshouse, a Retirement Home for old people, called  ‘God’s People’s House’ was founded in 1478 on All Souls Day, November 2nd , the Day of the Dead. The occupants of the former Alms Houses paid for their keep by praying three times a night for the souls of its patrons and the souls of the deceased citizens of Waterford.


Director of Waterford Treasures Eamonn McEneaney said: “The Irish Wake is one of the iconic parts of our national culture and visitors will get to experience a sense of this at The Irish Wake Museum as we trace the customs, traditions and superstitions associated with death from the earliest times to the 20th century."

The Irish Wake Museum was officially opened on Friday by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien. Mr O’Brien said: “I am delighted to support this imaginative initiative which celebrates how death has always been a community event in Ireland."

The museum transports you back to the original ‘Almshouses’ in Cathedral Square of Waterford City and takes you through a guided tour of an Irish Wake. Visitors to the museum will experience storytelling through six rooms chronologically from the 15th to the 20th centuries, with different themes associated with death being explored.

The new museum is the latest in the Waterford Treasures collective of Museums at Waterford’s Viking Triangle; joining the Medieval Museum – the only purpose-built museum specialising in medieval history in Ireland – The Bishop’s Palace, The Irish Museum of Time, Irish Silver Museum, King of the Vikings virtual reality experience and the EPIC guided walking tour of Waterford.


Photo: Patrick Browne

In keeping with the spirit of the founders of the almshouse Waterford Treasures will donate €1 from each admission ticket to the Waterford Hospice Movement.

The museum is opens to visitors on Saturday. The museum advises that it is it not suitable for children under the age of 14.

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