My Father's Wake -
A Talk by Kevin Toolis

When: July 26th 2019 at 7:45 p.m. (Doors open 7.30)

Where: Books@One, Louisburgh


Wakes are the oldest rites of humanity and date back long before the fall of Troy and the building of the pyramids of Egypt. But what are the hidden rules for life, death and grief that the wake still teaches us? From his compelling and beautifully written memoir My Father’s Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love and Die, writer and Achill islander Kevin Toolis shares the secrets of this ancient Irish ritual and in song and bardic poetry celebrates the wonders of the Irish Wake.


Kevin Toolis is a BAFTA winning film maker and has reported on famines, wars and plagues for the New York Times, The Guardian and Channel 4.


Praise for My Father’s Wake


"The windswept Irish island of My Father's Wake is one of the final remote outposts of true death engagement in the Western world. Toolis's book is both memoir and anthropology, and serves as a refreshing counterpoint to the industrialized, for-profit death industry we've come to wrongly believe is our only option."--Caitlin Doughty, author of the New York Times bestsellers Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity

"As a boy, he learned to kiss the corpse at a traditional island wake. As a filmmaker and witness to death in many conflict zones around the world, Kevin Toolis has written a profound book on the culture of grief and death, placing the personal alongside the political in a vivid exploration of our ancient ways of coming together around the dead. This is a moving family story, a memoir of loss and exile, a deep understanding of what makes us alive, casting a cold eye on what is precious and so often denied."--Hugo Hamilton

"A long meditation on death, dying, and our attitudes to mortality--our own and others'.... Toolis posits an acceptance of the inevitable which, while it does not banish the pain of grief, invests it with a resignation and a grace that is, in essence, healing and somehow life-affirming."--The Guardian

"A gut-wrenching exploration of death from an Irish perspective...A fascinating view of what most of us try not to consider: the end of life...This book is not for the faint of heart, as the experiences [Toolis] shares will leave readers emotionally raw. It is unquestionably rewarding, however, a thought-provoking argument against a sterile and industrial view of death...Intimate, eye-opening."―Kirkus (starred review)



+353 (0)98 66885


Bridge Street, Louisburgh,

Co. Mayo, Ireland