Funeral directors in Ireland report ‘crazy’ trend as business ‘completely changed’
A survey found some undertakers are on the receiving end of increasingly complex service demands
Funeral directors in Ireland are reporting a trend for increasingly elaborate funerals, a new study shows.
A survey found some undertakers are on the receiving end of increasingly complex service demands as the spending power of some families rises.
One funeral worker reported: “People have more money. We have catering to organise, we have marquees.
“It’s crazy. The business has completely changed.”
The worker also predicted that workers would be asked to play a more prominent role in ceremonies in a society less tied to the Catholic Church.
They forecast: “The next thing we’re going to have to do is speak in public.
“It’s going to be a challenge but that’s the next change because there’s a shortage of priests.”
Another funeral director said their job was a “lot more diverse”.
They added: “It’s almost getting like doing a wedding now. Now we have to buy flowers.
“We have to do orders of service, mass booklets. We have catering to organise.”
Earlier this week, Dublin feud victim James Whelan was buried in a gold-plated coffin with a marquee set up at his home in Finglas.
A professionally shot video of the ceremony recorded by O’Dwyer & Sons Funeral Directors featured a saxophone player, dancing mourners and a pitbull in a tuxedo.
Elaborate floral tributes made for the slain gangster’s grave included a Lamborghini sports car, Rolex watches and a giant ‘Gucci’ cap.
Finglas parish priest Fr Seamus Aherne told mourners: “There is nothing glamorous or blingy about death – the person is in a box, dead.”
Last year, 80 mourners who attended the traveller wedding of Davey Riley in Leitrim in breach of Covid-19 restrictions were fined, and two were arrested.
Despite repeated warnings crowds gathered at a marquee afterwards and the post-funeral drinking continued the following day.
The latest study, which was published in the Journal of Death and Dying, said funeral businesses were seen as a part of everyday life in Ireland.
It noted: “In Ireland families and community members often carry coffins from the home to the service… reducing funeral worker manual handling demands.”
Most research participants had over 16 years of experience in the funeral industry and are self-employed in contrast with other countries.
All worked long hours, with over a third working more than 60 hours per week.
Study author Dr Natalie Roche said we are seeing a societal shift away from religious identification and participation.
She said: “The most notable finding was that participants… had experienced both an increase in job demands and the range of services provided to their clients over time.”
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