Wake or Hunt Style Dining Table of Neat Proportions

PRESENTING A NICE Wake or Hunt Style Dining Table of Neat Proportions.

This table was made in the late 20th Century circa 1980, and is made of solid mahogany and sits on 4 solid legs.

2 Drop leafs on either side supported by swinging/sliding batons underneath.

Oval in shape …. it would comfortably seat 6 people.

Made in either Britain or Ireland.

This is a ‘Hunt’ or ‘Wake’ Style Table and not simply a drop leaf dining table. It is based upon the style and design of a wake or hunt table BUT in smaller or neater proportions..

Whilst ‘Hunt Tables’ and ‘Wake Tables’ are similar in shape and design their original purposes could not be more different.

Wake Tables were made and used by indigenous Irish people for 2 purposes: (1) As a full functional dining table and (2) the central section had to be of sufficient width and length to support a coffin for the purpose of ‘waking’ the deceased in their home. Wake Tables were almost always made of oak, as this was the most common wood found in Ireland and therefore available to the ordinary (and poor) Irish Folk. Sometimes they might also be made of elm or sycamore.

Hunt Tables. however, we not made for the purposes of holding a coffin or ‘waking’ the dead. They were made for the ruling classes, nobility or gentry for the sole purpose of use on the day of the ‘hunt’. This would be the fox hunting season of Fall and Winter, where the participants in the ‘hunt’ would gather at the local manor house early in the morning and the snacks and refreshments would be displayed for eating and drinking on the ‘hunt’ table. Hunt Tables are almost always made of mahogany which was an expensive and exotic hardwood imported from Cuba and the West Indies. When not in use they would be put up against a wall with the leafs down and items would be displayed on top.

It is still a LOVELY EXAMPLE of it’s kind and it’s simplicity makes it more affordable.

THE IRISH WAKE:

For many cultures, death is a semi-taboo subject, a happenstance to be dealt with in only the most serious somber manner. In that the ancient Celts believed that a person’s demise was the gateway to a better world, their rituals surrounding the event resonated with joy as well as sorrow. In all but the rarest cases, it was a time to share warm anecdotes and celebrate the accomplishments of the deceased, affording much needed comfort for grieving family and friends.

Originally, a wake was held in the family home, usually in the parlor from whence comes the term ‘funeral parlor’ used to describe modern undertaking establishments. Unlike today’s society that is awash with consumerism, in past ages personal possessions and household furnishings were meager, cherished, and commonly passed down generation to generation. One item that has survived but rarely is the ‘wake table.’ Consisting of a central plank flanked by two drop-down leaves, it was used for year-round dining but when a death occurred it would have become the focal furnishing of a wake as, with its side leaves folded down, the center plank was exactly the width of a coffin, enabling respectful mourners to approach the deceased for a final farewell.

Wakes were usually held several days after death, allowing friends who lived at a distance time to make the journey to pay their respects. At the moment of death all clocks in the house were stopped and time literally stood still until after the funeral service. As those closest to the deceased were often so distraught as to be unable to sleep, and it was believed to be bad luck to leave the body unattended, vigil was kept through the night, giving rise to the term ‘wake.’

So imbedded in Irish tradition is the custom of ‘waking’ that during the 19th century, it became common to hold a wake for the brave souls who sought to escape Ireland’s Great Famines by emigrating overseas. At these ‘American Wakes’ friends and family shared one last bittersweet uproarious time with those whom they would probably never in life see again. Just as, and most likely because, birth is a province exclusive to women, with the exception of the Last Rites of the Church performed by the parish priest, so too was it women’s charge to make all preparations for the deceased’s final public viewing. While the men sat talking in subdued tones, smoking, drinking uisce beatha (whiskey – the ‘water of life’), and often playing cards (with an unused hand dealt to the deceased), the wife or mother of the deceased was exempt from duties in deference to her grief. Meanwhile, neighbors known as mna cabhartha or ‘handy women’ cleaned, dressed and presented the body, opened all windows and doors so the departed soul could take wing, covered or removed any mirrors in the house lest someone spy the specter of death plotting to seize another victim, hung immaculate white sheets kept solely for waking the dead on and about the bier, and prepared food for those who would pay their last respects.

Women also played a key role during the wake itself, ‘keening’ vocal expression of the communal grief. While keening is usually equated with inarticulate wailing, it is often a sad song, a favorite perhaps of the deceased, or a lament composed on the spot extolling the departed’s virtue or circumstance of death. One such is Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire. The late 18th c. epic poem tells of the life and tragic demise of Art O’ Laoghaire who was murdered by Abraham Morris at Carraig an Ime, County Cork on May 4, 1793. Composed extemporaneously at Art’s wake by his pregnant wife Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill, the 390-line keening is one of the greatest love poems of the Irish language, one of its greatest laments, and one of the finest compositions to have survived from Irish oral literature.

Link: http://irishamerica.com/2007/04/slainte-the-irish-wake/

Wake or Hunt Style Dining Table of Neat Proportions

Provenance: From a Private Collection.

Dimensions: 75.25″ Long, Each leaf is 16.5″ wide and the central section is 24.25″ wide (Total: 57.25″ wide), It is 30.25″ tall. It has a Knee Clearance of 29.25″.

Condition: Overall in VERY GOOD condition. One or two very minor blemishes but nothing significant.

PRICE NOW: $2,750

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