Funerals and wakes are changing in Ireland

A friend of mine Brendan Morris sadly and suddenly passed away during the week at the age of 50. He was a very genuine character and would have a kind word for everybody. He was waked and cremated in Dublin. There were over 1000 people at the funeral; this I found out after is a big turnout in the city.

Chatting to a few people who were amazed by the crowd I can’t believe that only a hand full would go to a funeral, at home in Kerry and down the country it would be the social event of the week! Half the time they’d be waiting for someone to pass on so they could have a get together. I said to the guy next to me that if I pass away in the city make sure I’m sent down home.

I remember being at a funeral in Mayo a few years back. When everybody was gathered round the grave and when all the prayers were said and the body was lowered in. People started filling in the soil on top on of the coffin.

When one (all men) would have had enough shovelling there were 10 behind him to start working on this. I was amazed because I had never seen this before in my life. In Kerry where I’m from the prayers are said the coffin covered by a green sheet and we head home and the gravedigger goes to work when there is nobody left. I really didn’t know what was happening in Mayo that day. I kind of wanted to stop them and say ‘hang on a second we haven’t gone yet’. I’ve seen this many times since and always remember the first time I was it!

I was never at a cremation before this week and if I thought what I saw in Mayo a few years ago was weird, this was to top it all. I found the service itself very nice and peaceful, the coffin lay up behind the alter and prayers were said again and some very nice words about Brendan. So the priest turns and says ‘right that’s it’ and these curtains opened and the coffin went in and then the curtains closed when the coffin was fully in.

That was it! I was like ‘hang on a while that can’t be it’ I was really waiting for something else to happen, as I think were many how were there. But after a short while people began to go and I went with them. I asked a guy on the way out if there was something else to happen and he said no that was that!

I think I’m too used of some kind of a ritual or something like that when it comes to funerals. Used of people going up to a grave and putting flowers on up on the coffin. The cremation was all too fast for me. I felt like everybody needed one more act in this cremation drama that we were all involved in. I suppose every day is a school day when it comes to things like this.

I did put me thinking about funerals and some of the crazy ones I’ve been to. I once met a man who danced on his own grave. He knew for a long time where his plot was and when he was healthy he decided to do a little dance on it. He was also dancing on his wife’s grave, which might have been another reason!

There was a man how died a few years back in our parish who will remain nameless, but I have to say that his funeral was the best party I was every at. If you came in off the street you wouldn’t even know you were at a wake. There were barrels of porter going in one door and out another. There was even a cap put on the man who had passed, bottles of whiskey in the coffin with him, ‘to keep him warm’ I was told. When the body was finally buried I think the people were more upset that the party was coming to an end than the poor man who had died!

Next question to come up, buried or cremated? I’ve said for the last few years that I’d like to be cremated, but now I’m not so sure. I suppose when you’re gone you’re gone and it doesn’t really matter what happens to your body. There might not be much left after all the scientists crave me up anyway!