The Irish tradition of keening over the body during the funeral procession and at the burial site is distinct from the wake, the practice of watching over the corpse, which takes place the night before the burial, and may last for more than one night.
The "keen" itself is thought to have been constituted of stock poetic elements (the listing of the genealogy of the deceased, praise for the deceased, emphasis on the woeful condition of those left behind etc.) set to vocal lament. While generally carried out by one or several women, a chorus may have been intoned by all present. Physical movements involving rocking, kneeling or clapping accompanied the keening woman (bean chaointe) who was often paid for her services.
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