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Funerals in Ireland: What are your options?

Online funeral planning, green burials and cremation – there’s more than one way to organise your big send-off.

YOU MAY NOT like to dwell too much on the arrangements for your own funeral, but if you are so inclined you might be intrigued to explore the range of options that exist for your grand send-off.

Aside from a traditional church funeral – what can you plan?

Online funeral planning

First thing’s first: just how do you go about organising a funeral?

A newly-launched Irish website, Legacy Online, is offering a “streamlined alternative” to traditional funeral planning – giving users the ability to check out all their options online without having to meet face-to-face with a funeral director.

The service offers options for both religious and civil ceremonies, and for burials as well as cremations.

“Using Legacy Online, the entire funeral can be decided, planned and priced in the familiar surroundings of your own home, taking as much time as you need to make important decisions at what is inevitably an emotional time,” said founder Josh Moonman.

Green funerals

For those who want to bid farewell with the least impact on the environment, a natural burial is the way to go. You won’t find rows of marble headstones in a natural burial ground – instead resting places are marked with a simple engraved stone and a native Irish sapling.

The Green Graveyard Company opened the first natural burial ground in Co Wexford in 2010, and hope to develop a site in Cork in the future.

Traditional coffins in Ireland are typically made of solid timber (made from trees that are often not replanted once cut, or imported) or chipboard/veneer (which requires the use of formyhylde-based acid glue), according to Green Coffins Ireland. But there are several options for sustainably-sourced coffin types for green-minded people, including those made of willow, water hyacinth, banana leaf, pandanus and cardboard.

Image courtesy of the Green Graveyard company


Cremation, an alternative to a burial ceremony, are available at four separate locations in Ireland. Three are located in Dublin and one is in Cork, and are open to anyone from any part of the country.

As with burial ceremonies, it is usual for a service to be held in a place of worship – although this isn’t necessary. A person’s ashes can be buried in a crematorium’s garden of remembrance, placed in a nice in a columbarium wall, buried in a family grave, or scattered.

Cremations are permitted by all Christian denominations and many other religions across the world. However, Orthodox Judaism and Islam do not permit cremation.

Aside from religious considerations, those wishing to arrange a cremation for a loved one must also consider standard legal requirements (a funeral director can give assistance with this). For example, a medical referee is required to provide a certificate and a form stating that there is no reason why a body should not be cremated, and a Garda Superintendent has the power to stop a cremation.

Humanist funeral

For those who would prefer that the celebration of their life was a non-religious affair, the Humanist Association of Ireland offers ceremonies without all the ecclesiastical trimmings.

A humanist funeral will generally see contributions from a celebrant followed family members or from close friends about the departed person, with readings, poetry, and music.

The HAI has accredited celebrants that will talk with a person ahead of their funeral, or their family, to arrange a meaningful ceremony.

Home burials

While it’s possible to be buried outside of an official graveyard in Ireland – for example on private family land – it isn’t very easy.

It’s highly recommended to organise all the details in advance with your local authority, as it’s practically impossible to get approval following a person’s death. An Environmental Health Inspector will have to inspect the proposed site to ensure that the ground goes down at least eight feet, and that a burial there would not pose a pollution risk for the local water supply.

The Citizens Information Board has published booklet that contains information for the recently bereaved, which included information on legal and financial considerations.

Read: Humanist marriage ceremonies on track to being legally recognised

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