Traditional funerals could soon be a thing of the past as hard-up families opt for cremations instead.
A grave shortage of cash and an acute scarcity of plots has caused what is being described as a major social change.
One leading undertaker claims that 75% of their clients now end up in the crematorium instead of the cemetery.
Keohane Funeral Directors has noticed a dramatic change in attitudes in the last 12 months.
John Keohane said: “I have noticed a significant change in funeral trends and it now seems cremations are more popular that the traditional Catholic burial.
“In the last year, 75% of the funerals I have directed, have been cremations and the majority of these funerals have been Catholic.”
The Cork undertaker claims that the recession has led to more families opting for cremations.
He added: “Cremation is an alternative to burial and since the downturn in the economy, people are now opting for cremations more and more, due to significant cost savings they offer. The main difference in cost is the absence of the purchase of the grave itself, which can cost anywhere between €900 and €1700 in the Cork area, and in Dublin it can go as high as €2,700 to €16,000. Deansgrange Cemetery in Dublin for example, has been a burial ground since 1865 and is now at capacity. There are therefore, only a limited number of plots available in what is known as ‘The Garden’.”
Social historians also believe that people now are less inclined to follow the guidance of the Catholic church which has traditionally frowned on cremations.
At one time there was only one crematorium in the country but now there are four, with three located in Dublin and the fourth in Cork.
John Keohane said that families can decide to have a cremation for their departed loved one and still give them a Catholic service.
He said: “Families are opting for cremations now more than ever as it is usual to still hold an appropriate service in the church before removing the coffin to the crematorium. Following the cremation, ashes are available within 24-48hrs. The deceased can then chose to bury the ashes in a family grave if desired or scatter them in a place dear to them once permission is granted. People are now becoming more open to the idea of cremations as they still get the traditional Christian service without the having to pay high funeral bills. We have carried out many funerals and initially I was surprised at the number of cremation requests, but nowadays it is more commonplace here in Cork.”