The Aran Islands, County Galway
John Millington Synge, the Anglo-Irish playwright and folklorist, spent a great deal of time on the Aran Islands circa 1900 soaking up the traditional culture. He was struck by how calmly the islanders lived with the likely prospect of an early death, as fishermen were frequently drowned during storms. In his travelogue The Aran Islands, Synge wrote of a funeral for a young man whose body washed ashore three weeks after he was swept overboard. An older coffin in the family plot had to be broken up in order to make space for the new burial, allowing the mother of the drowned man to reach into the grave to pull out the skull of her own mother.