Mná chaointe (Keeners) at Church of Ireland and Methodist Funerals 18th and 19th Century, West Cork:  Sir Richard Cox (1650-1733), Dunmanway, and  Some Family Recollections by James Stanley Vickery in Australia 1829-1911, of Childhood in Moloch in Parish of Durrus, 1832-6.

Is it possible that Keening is pre Christian.   There are references to Keeners being employed at Cox’s funeral in 1733 in Dunmanway.  Cox was the founder of Dunmanway and promoter of the linen industry.   For someone who was virulently anti Catholic it is also surprising that there is a praise poem dedicated to him as set out below

James Stanley Vickery writing in at the end of the 19th century  Australia 1829-1911, of his childhood Moloch in Parish of Durrus, 1832-6. He recalls his grandfather’s death and the wake going over two nights with a professional keener.  HIs grandfather was a wild man when younger, later saw the light and became a prominent early Methodist.

From his recollections:

He went around 1837 to a small private school in Bantry run by a man called Healy who was a Catholic. The new National schools had been boycotted by the Irish Protestants.  Healy had attained a proficiency in mathematics but was extremely cruel, over on of the rafters he threw a small rope and tied it under Robert’s arms and hoisted him up swinging him gently and letting him feel the holly rod to the amusement of the other boys.  His wife on seeing it stopped him and gave Healy a piece of her mind.  Healy was later convicted of cruelty in front of the magistrates.


There is a praise-poem to Sir Richard Cox composed by the otherwise unknown poet Cormac Ó Luinín and transcribed in the hand of Charles O’Conor (1710-1790) in a manuscript held in the library of of Clonalis House, seat of the O’Conors, in Castlereagh, Co. Roscommon. A digital copy is held on the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies website at ISO [Irish Script on Screen Project]