THE funeral business is booming despite the recession, new figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal.
Although less people are dying each year thanks to a youthful population, the burial industry has never been healthier.
Unpublished figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal total turnover for funeral businesses has climbed to €145.4m -- up from €141m in 2007, before the economic crisis took hold.
Given the death rate fell from 28,117 in 2007 to 27,565 in 2010, that means the average cost of a funeral rose by 5pc to €5,300.
However, costs in Dublin can be much higher, with a new Irish Independent survey showing it can cost almost €8,000 for a typical funeral in the capital.
And big players in the funeral game are enjoying extremely healthy profits at a time when other businesses are struggling.
The most recent accounts filed by Massey Brothers (Funerals) Ltd, which operates seven funeral homes in Dublin, reveal the company had accumulated profits of over €2m in 2010.
Meanwhile, their subsidiary company Patrick Massey Ltd, which has two funeral homes in Dublin, had profits in 2010 of almost €170,000 and reserves of €1.6m.
Fanagan Funeral Directors Ltd, meanwhile, which owns Fanagans, Kirwans, J&C Nichols and Fanagan Murray funeral homes in Dublin, enjoyed profits of €226,848 in 2010 on turnover of €3.8m -- bringing its accumulated profits to a robust €2.4m.
The Stafford group, which owns Staffords, Jennings and Legacy Direct Funerals, had €6.3m in accumulated profits at its main Allied Funeral Services (Ireland) Ltd subsidiary. The Irish Association of Funeral Directors, which has 250 members, said any increase in costs was down to higher graveyard and newspaper death notice costs as undertakers had not increased their charges.
"Take Shanganagh Cemetery in south Dublin, it doubled the prices of its graves overnight a couple of years ago. Funeral directors are not charging more, and families are opting for much simpler services to reduce costs," said spokesman Gus Nichols, a funeral director with Dublin firm Fanagans.