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Civil funerals on the increase as more seek unique send-off


Padraic Cawley offers an alternative funeral service

Padraic Cawley offers an alternative funeral service

Padraic Cawley offers an alternative funeral service

Civil marriages are now more commonplace in Irish society -so we shouldn't be too surprised that funerals are following suit.

A changing Ireland has seen more and more people move away from traditional customs - and funerals are now also changing with the times.

Now, up to 15pc of urban funerals are carried out by a civil celebrant who can organise your send-off in the manner that the deceased or their loved ones want. Some want no prayers at all, just a few words from family and friends, while others like the concept of a few prayers or blessings - but without crucifixes and overt religious overtones.


Padraic Cawley trained to be a priest and worked with an undertaker before he spotted the demand for an alternative funeral option and became a civil funeral celebrant.

"A civil funeral ceremony is for any person, regardless of what beliefs, if any, they held. There is no set format.

"Each ceremony is unique - as unique as the person who has died; as unique as the life they lived. It is a ceremony created especially for them," he said.

"I've carried out as many funerals this year as I did in the whole of last year already. There is definitely more interest in it.

"The civil funeral caters for people who are spiritual but who have moved away from the structure of the Church.

"You can still have an Our Father or Hail Mary, but also a Beatles tune or whatever. Some people may wish to talk about your life and values, or they can write the eulogy with me and I can present it," he said.

Colm Kiernan, from the Irish Association of Funeral Directors, said he has also seen an increase in interest for civil funerals, but said there was an urban/rural divide in the matter.

"While in urban centres up to 15pc of funerals might be of the civil variety, in rural areas traditions still hold and there might be less than 5pc asking about that option," he said.

"But as funeral directors it is our job to present all the options to people and let them decide," he added.