Developments in technology have introduced new methods of disposing of bodies, including ecolation (combination of heat, cold and thermal pressures), resomation (where bodies are dissolved into an alkaline hydrolysis liquid) and promession (a process that freeze-dries bodies in nitrogen). Currently, the most common ways to dispose of a body in Ireland are burial and cremation (earth versus fire).
The funeral service for a burial or cremation is not vastly different. Following a service in a local church or other venue, one takes the body and the mourners to a burial ground, the other takes them to a crematorium. A further short service of last prayers, words or music can be held in either of these places.
Burial grounds (also known as cemeteries or graveyards) in Ireland typically are the responsibility of local authorities, although there are a number of privately-owned cemeteries as well.
Each of the burial grounds usually has a registrar or caretaker, who manages maintenance and the sale of plots in that site. Some graveyards forbid the purchase of a plot until a death has occurred and there is a ‘need’ for the plot. The reason for this is that they are running out of space!
You can re-open a grave to bury a member of the same family, but a space of at least one foot (30cm) above the previous burial must be left so the deeper the first body is buried, the better. It is possible to bury three or four people in
each grave plot.
The cost of buying a burial plot varies hugely. In rural Ireland, a burial plot could cost as little as €200 while in Dublin it could cost as much as €3,500. This cost does not include grave opening fees, which can add another €1,000 to the bill in some cemeteries. Burying someone and erecting a headstone or grave marker can provide a family with peace because they have somewhere physical to visit where they can feel close to the deceased. This is one of the reasons a lot of people opt for burial instead of cremation.
Cremation is becoming more popular in Ireland and is predicted to become even more so. It is often seen as a cheaper option, because a family does not have to pay for a plot of land on which to bury a body nor do they have to pay to have the grave opened. And cremation costs currently average about €600.
There are currently 6 crematoria in the Island of Ireland, three of which are located in Dublin, one in Cavan, one in Belfast and the other in Cork. However, anyone anywhere in Ireland can arrange for a cremation to take place in any of these crematoria. (more info here)
Note that a time slot of 30 minutes is given when booking a crematorium, so if you require a longer time – perhaps to hold a funeral service at the crematorium, ask for a double slot.
Remember to alert the funeral director of any pacemakers, breast implants, artificial plates or joints that the deceased may have. Most metals pass through the process without any difficulty but it is always better to communicate all the available information you have. At the end of the service in the crematorium, the coffin holding the body is moved into the committal room. Despite rumours, only one coffin is cremated at a time – although, if for example a mother and baby, or wife and husband, died together, they can be cremated together also.