Talking to the Dead is an essay on death and its tenacious hold on Irish culture. There are few traditions in which funerary motifs have been so ubiquitous in literature, popular rituals, folk representations, public rhetorics, even constructions of place. There are even fewer cultures in which funerary genres and preoccupations constitute the central thread of continuity. The Irish Theatrum Mortis is not simply an obsession of writers from the bards to Beckett and Heaney. Nor is it confined to contemporary Republican iconography. It is to be found in the pages of the local press, in acts of ritual resistance to unpopular decisions, in the way in which significant public events are narrated and framed. Though the funerary Ireland presented here may well yield to the new, positive self-image of the Celtic Tiger, it is the authors' contention that at the end of the twentieth century the funerary sign continues to define Irish identity. For good and ill, it is the centre that holds.