How EU edict could kill off the Irish wake

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The strange mixture of joy and grief that marks a traditional Irish funeral, with its week-long drink-fuelled wake, is under threat from a European directive.

The Irish custom that sees corpses kept in an open coffin so the deceased can be viewed during the wake has been endangered by an edict issued by Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner.

He wants chemicals used by embalmers to preserve the cadaver withdrawn under a new biocides directive.

Such a move would see the end of the age-old ritual of "laying out" the body while games are played and food and drink are consumed to the accompaniment of dancing and fiddle music.

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