Recently we were researching traditional funeral rites in other cultures when we stumbled across an article by an American Funeral organisation on the traditional Irish Funeral. It went into great detail to talk about the process involved in our traditional three-day wake. From opening windows in the house to allow the spirit escape, stopping all clocks and tying the two toes together to stop the deceased from returning as a ghost. Of course this version of the Irish wake is not complete without games and drink, not any drink though, it must be Poitin. Games include the show of strength by lifting the dead body into the air, pranks on other mourners and passing a pipe around, taking one puff that must be followed by a few words of wisdom. The burial is followed by a session to end all sessions, which of course, may go on for a few days.
While I don’t disagree with their description (although I will present a question mark over the lifting of the body), I feel they are more inline with the Ireland of 50 years ago, longer even. While certain elements of this style of wake have survived over the years, we are now starting to see a new modern funeral emerge, especially as more and more people are considering a non-religious approach.
As Funeral Directors in a fairly large town we have seen a big change in the approach and attitudes towards funerals. As I say certain traditions still exist, more so in smaller towns and villages rather than cities, the Irish, in general have taken a more hands on approach to organising the final goodbye for their loved ones.
One big part of the traditional funeral that has changed is the wake being held in the local funeral home rather that of the family or relative. At Dixons we have met this demand by investing heavily into our funeral home, making it a modern setting, yet ensuring intimacy and privacy for family and friends to attend. We have also noticed an increase in non-religious funerals and with those of various or non-faiths now preferring the use of funerals homes and non – denominational chapels. This has allowed families to be more creative in organsing a funeral, lifting the traditional boundaries that existed.
Funerals are becoming more of way of showcasing ones life and achievements rather than just talk about them. Customised coffins of favourite teams or musicians, alternative hearses that are more suited to their profession or career such as tractors and motorbikes, just the small, but significant changes being made in the industry.
As a modern funeral director we are be able to keep up with these changes and demands and go beyond the call of duty in organising a funeral exactly how they family wish, exactly how that deceased wished. But those that prefer the traditional Irish funeral we are proud to call upon generations of experience in delivering the must authentic Irish funeral possible.