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Friday 6 December 2013

Roy Orbison

Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988) 

American singer-songwriter, best known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads.

Roy Orbison's greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs were placed on the Billboard Top 40 - "Only the Lonely", "Crying", and "Oh, Pretty Woman" proved to be his biggest hit yet.

In 1988, he joined supergroup 'Traveling Wilburys' with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne.

Personally, Roy's life was marred at first in 1964 with divorce from his wife Claudette over infidelities (hers) and although they remarried the following year, in 1966 while riding their much loved motorcycles home from Tennessee, she was fatally struck by a truck. Then while touring in England on September 16, 1968, he received the news that his home in Tennessee, had burned down and his two eldest sons had died.

He wrote music for the not-so-successful film 'The Fastest Guitar Alive', in which he also starred as a spy who stole and had to protect gold to the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War. His character was outfitted with a guitar that turned into a rifle which allowed him to deliver the line "I could kill you with this and play your funeral march at the same time".

On December 6, 1988, he spent the day flying model airplanes with his sons (to his second wife Barbara) but then after having dinner at his mother's home in Tennessee, he died of a heart attack at the age of 52.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela  18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013

Former president of South Africa (1994-9) and an anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician, he was the first black South African to hold office and is often described as "the father of the nation".

His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.

After the National Party came to power in 1948 and implementing their policy of apartheid, he rose to prominence and working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the African government, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mandela served 27 years in 3 different prisons. An international campaign lobbied for his release and was finally granted in 1990 after which he soon became president and implement anti apartheid laws.

Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial.

After his presidential term he refocussed his efforts on more charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

He received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin.

Monday 2 December 2013

Paris 2013 - Salon International De L'Art Funeraire

I attended the Funeraire Paris 2013 - Salon International De L'Art Funeraire this year and my was I unblown away. Mediocre at best unfortunately. This show claims international status but from the beginning (signing in) I had issues with language. Even my Leaving Cert French couldn't help me here. This did not bode well for the show. I found that 80% of the exhibitors were French, of whom a large part did not speak any English and thus it was difficult to find out exactly why anyone should choose them above their competitors. 

For some reasoning I seemed mostly drawn to Italian exhibitors, completely coincidental, or maybe innovation is in Italy! When I visit these shows, I like to find something that catches my eye, something new, something colourful, different - something that stands out. For me the Italians had it in bags.

There was beautiful urns from Milan, a far cry from any I had seen before, from Amuela, Milano ( There was the stunning Rotastyle from Presezzo, Italy whose exhibition was far from shy. It's screamed glamour, luxury, and money. A beautiful display area with a few cute parting gifts for visitors to their exhibit, they definitely packed a punch in my eyes. Lastly on the Italian front there was PastBook (, an innovative new approach to social media, online photos and the funeral industry, I think this one is a much needed service. It offers undertakers a reasonable cut of the takings without robbing the consumer. They began with parties and weddings and have now moved into funerals. A smart move in my opinion and if any funeral directors are out there, getting in touch with these guys will be their next move if they are smart. A step up from the wedding album or the condolence book and a business to watch!

Other businesses to note: ParlAmore which can incorporate the button or buttons of loved ones into a ring or broach which is a step up from a mourning pin. There was also a fabulous Eco coffin creator. Fantastic images. Check her out Bling hit the coffin makers with Globale RC putting crystals into their coffins - dazzling even the most discerning customer. 

Finally there was Jewel Concepts in the form of Fingerprint jewellery and portrait jewellery. The first you may know about, the second perhaps not. These guys, I spoke with Cess Janssen in particular, know how to personalise jewellery. From still births to burials and cremations, they have it covered. The portrait jewellery is where they take an image of someone's profile (from a picture) and they use that profile shape to create a unique pendent, as can be seen in the pictures. It has the shape of a vase but upon closer inspection you can see the silhouette of the face. Ashes can be inserted into the pendent also. 

All in all Paris was not where it's at in terms of innovation, but definitely worth a visit for networking and some hidden gems.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Thanksgiving and loss

Thanksgiving today and also the one year anniversary of Paul Cusack. He was an old school friend of mine and we connected both on and offline in latter years. It still strikes me every now and then (esp. When I'm behaving all 'woe is me') how short life is. Very recently I got robbed of a substantial amount of money and my laptop. While I know I am lucky that I wasn't harmed or worse, it still stung. I was extremely low for a week or so. Comments from people saying how sad I looked and my sparkle was gone, didn't do much to help but thankfully I did pull myself out of it and that I can do that because I can only imagine how difficult that must be for someone with depression. However it is times like today when it hits home that Paul, the same age as me when he died, was taken from this life too early. Why? What's the purpose? Why give him life for 30 years for it to be taken so suddenly? These and a million more questions are asked every day again and again by brothers, sister, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and friends.

While losing someone brings up a million questions I feel that Paul's anniversary falling on such a prominent day answers at least one question for me - give thanks EVERY day that you get to spend it with the people you love and don't waste time arguing or wondering or ignoring people you care about. If you love them, show it and give thanks that you can.

Friday 22 November 2013

NFDA Austin Convention 2013 - Lasting Impressions Urns

One of the exhibitors who had the greatest impact on me was actually one of the simplest stands. There was no merchandise, no flashy displays, no massive banners or colourful screens screaming at me, there was just one young guy standing at a table with some boxes and some brochures. It stood out because it was different, unassuming, pure and they were inexperienced or clearly working on a budget. The offering was biodegradable urns. Nothing new there but there was something else that caught my attention. Water burial urns, also biodegradable, intended to float with the cremated remains inside for 2-4 minutes on water then elegantly sink to the river floor. I have always been a big fan of water and for me, unless there is another more environmentally friendly option available, cremation is how I would like to go. So to have a final memorial where my ashes, encased in a biodegradable urn, could float out to sea, on a lake, in a river for a few moments while those I have left behind could say a few words is a beautiful tribute. Based in Seattle, Lasting Impressions Urns can be found via their website with the same name.

Monday 18 November 2013

NFDA Austin Convention 2013 - Me and Billy Connolly

To my utter surprise and awe, one of my favourite comedians Billy Connolly graced the 2013 convention with his presence to film a new documentary on death. I was privileged and delighted to make his acquaintance.

I have no doubt that some of my babbling will make the final cut of his ITV documentary but I can only hope that some of it will end up on the cutting room floor.

I pointed him in the way of the Design for Death competition area as he had told me how much of a cynic he was with regards the industry and its offerings. I told him it was good to be a cynic and to view everything with eyes open but also to open his mind to some of the experiences, products and services he would undoubtedly encounter on his journey through the convention.

A lovely man, looking a little slight, pale and frail, I wish him super health and I truly hope he opens up the publics mind in an informative and humorous way to the funeral industry and only he can.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

NFDA Austin Convention 2013 - FuneralTech's Memory Maker App

FuneralTech, a newbie on the scene of the Funeral industry launched a new app called Memory Maker at this years convention. The app is designed specifically for each funeral home and can be downloaded by family members. They can view all of the products and services on offer by that funeral home with no time pressure and in the comfort of their own home allowing them to digest all the options and various cost associated with the funeral.

What I found fascinating was that during a year of testing the market, FuneralTech found that they increased average funeral home revenues by 10% per funeral. Its an interesting result because I would have thought that with no pressure or someone looming over your shoulder as you make decisions most people would opt for the cheaper options - but maybe not so.

Key features to the app include - more power in the family's hands, saves time for both customer and funeral director, apparently increases revenue while also improving customer satisfaction.

Monday 11 November 2013

NFDA Austin Convention 2013 - Mevisto

Mevisto, a business that transforms a loved one’s ashes  (if dead) or hair (if living) into individual synthetic gemstones, caught Comedian Mr Billy Connolly’s eye at the convention. Saphhires or rubies can be artificially created using the deceased cremated remains. They are based in New York but receive orders internationally.

Friday 8 November 2013

NFDA Austin Convention 2013 - ‘Have the Talk of a Lifetime’

Speaking on a personal and professional level to attendees at the convention were Dr. Thomas Long and Thomas Lynch, co-authors of The Good Funeral book.  They made two important keynote speeches, the final one focused on society and how it deals with dying, death and how we, the funeral industry servants, can better serve the dead, dying and bereaved which was a nice focus considering the very important and timely launch at this year’s convention was the Funeral and Memorial Information Council’s ‘Have the Talk of a Lifetime’ awareness campaign.

A national and grassroots campaign the ‘Have the Talk of a Lifetime’ awareness campaign is focused on motivating families to have a conversation about life, what they value most and how they wish to remember and be remembered. Linda Darby, the National Concrete Burial Vault Associations rep to FAMIC summarized it very well saying  “I can’t ever remember a time in my professional career in which a group of key funeral service organizations have united around a common goal and developed a campaign of this nature”. The campaign will include brochures, videos, advertisements on and offline, social media and an informational website.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

NFDA Austin Convention 2013 - Design for Death

One of the most exciting ventures that the convention launched this year was the Design for Death competition, which invited entrants from all over the world to think creatively about funerals and memorials. Over 1,300 entries from over 90 different countries entered the worlds first ever competition of its kind. The winning concepts were on view to everyone at the convention center.

The Lien Foundation, ACM Foundation and the NFDA organized the competition collectively. Mr Lee Poh Wah, CEO of the Lien Foundation said “The designers have interpreted the needs of our generation with sensitivity and empathy. Their innovations and styles give us new ways to relate to death and dying. Their designs not only invite us to reflect on our mortality, they provide what we seem to be yearning for in death and in life – meaning, engagement and fulfillment.” More info can be seen

Monday 4 November 2013

NFDA Austin Convention 2013 - Moon Memorials

An interesting concept called Moon Memorials were providing onlookers with quite an array of merchandise from arrows and stress balls to the aforementioned dried ice cream. Neapolitan was the flavor and although I was told it was ‘delicious’ I personally like my ice cream wet! Aside from their distracting merchandise the concept of Moon Memorials intrigued me – they plan to launch the first mission to the moon carrying the ashes of 800 people as part of an outer space life celebration. The only problem I have is that this business is not yet up and running as a result of funding and also their website is unavailable currently. Not a good sign all in all but I do like the idea.

Saturday 2 November 2013

NFDA Austin Convention 2013

Well what to say about the NFDA Convention in Austin, Texas

They say everything is bigger in Texas and as a friend of mine says ‘go big or go home’ - this certainly seemed an appropriate description for what I witnessed at the 2013 National Funeral Director Association’s International Convention in Austin, Texas. From water burials to mushroom suits and comedian Billy Connolly to dried edible ice cream the show more than catered for everyone’s taste.

And when I say everyone I truly mean it – there were stands that sold pashmina scarves, hats, handbags and gold, silver and copper jewelry – nothing to do with the funeral industry at all. There was a facial youth serum on sale - I don’t know if they realized the irony of that product.

Below are some photos of the show and over the course of the next week or so I will give you guys my take on the various stands I encountered.

Sunday 20 October 2013

The Disney Files - Jerry Orbach aka Lumière

Jerome Bernard "Jerry" Orbach (October 20, 1935 – December 28, 2004) 

American actor and singer, he was well known for his roles as Detective Lennie Briscoe in Law & Order from 1992 to 2004, Harry McGraw in the hit series Murder She Wrote 1985–1991 and as the voice of Lumière in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

1992 64th Annual Academy Awards LIVE performance
(If it wont play click here)

Perhaps not as commonly known, Orbach was also a noted musical theatre star. Prominent character roles that he originated include El Gallo in The Fantasticks (the longest-running musical play in history), Chuck Baxter in Promises (for which he won a Tony Award), Julian Marsh in 42nd Street; and Billy Flynn in Chicago.

In early December 2004, it was announced that Orbach had been receiving treatment for prostate cancer which he had been living with for 10 years previous. He died at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York on December 28, 2004.

The day after his death, the marquees on Broadway were dimmed in mourning, one of the highest honors of the American theatre world.

One of his wishes while he was alive was to have his eyes donated after his death. In death he helped two people – one who needed correction for a nearsighted eye and another who needed correction for a farsighted eye.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Seamus Heaney Poem

“Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker's father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.” 
― Seamus Heaney

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Celtic Life and Celtic Marketplace Lombard, Chicago

Delighted to be interviewed by Celtic Life Magazine for the Celtic Marketplace Show in Chicago. Woo!

See interview here or text below:

"All good things must come to an end, and thus it is for the Celtic Marketplace Trade Show in Lombard, Il, which wraps up today. What better way to say goodbye than with Jennifer Muldowney, whose Dublin-based company Farewell Celtic Ashes offers a range of unique Irish memorial products to connect the Irish American community with their ancestry and loved ones. Read more here!

What is your own heritage/ethnic background?
I am Irish born and bred! I lived in the States for two years but most of my life I have lived in my hometown – Dublin, Ireland. I would be considered very ‘Irish looking’ too so I can’t deny my background. Although red hair is associated with Irish people, most of us are made up of dark hair, blue eyes and pale white skin.

How did you get involved with the business?
So the idea of my business of Irish cremation jewelry started when I lived in the States and my grandmother passed away. I couldn’t get home for her funeral. I was devastated. She had given me a miraculous medal when I was younger as most Irish Catholic grandmothers did to keep us safe and pure. I began to wear it as my way to keep her close and watching over me. However I started getting comments and attention about it that I didn’t want. This drove me to look for something more intimate. When my dog passed away four years ago, we got her cremated and my mother said she wanted her buried with her when she died. I was sad because I wanted to have a piece of my dog too as I considered her my pet. So these two experiences led me to Farewell Celtic Ashes. There are two types of piece – fused and encased. Fused pieces involve using some cremated remains and fusing them with glass and colour if requested. The ashes create a beautiful cloud like affect within the glass. The encased collection is a little more obvious as you can see the ashes moving around within the glass, almost like an hourglass.

Are these all the same reasons that you keep doing what you do?
Absolutely. I couldn’t do what I do without emotion, empathy and a love of the original concept. I understand people’s grief, their need for something to hold onto and the connection they want to maintain, even in death. I have written a book on funeral planning in Ireland called Say Farewell Your Way and it is through researching the book and working with people planning their own funerals or who are dealing with a death that I have heard truly amazing stories, seen amazing acts of human kindness and shared beautiful memories. This drives me forward.

What are the challenges?
The challenges in Ireland is the funeral industry and the fear of trying something new and different. Americans are very different to work with in terms of that as they are more open to new ideas and concepts. Is cremation jewelry a little bit creepy and morbid? Maybe, it depends how you look at it. I like to think it gives everyone an opportunity to keep a part of someone they love with them always. It also works well if family and friends live all across the globe and so will not have a chance to visit a burial site on a regular basis. Also if someone’s last wish was to have their ashes scattered, it can be hard not to have some place to ‘speak to’ the deceased. Cremation jewelry helps with that.

What are the rewards?
Wow, the rewards for me are definitely the stories I hear and knowing that each and every one of my customers walks away with a completely unique Irish memorial piece that means the world to them.

Who is your typical client?
I wish I had a typical one! I don’t. Age, race, sex, nationality are all massively varied in what I do because death and therefore grief does not discriminate.

What are your core products?
The fused and encased glass pendants although we regularly do bespoke pieces for people.

What distinguishes you from you competition?

What distinguishes us is our customer service and attitude and the fact that we are Irish – when you send a us the small piece of your loved one’s ashes – we only use a small piece to make the pendent so we will scatter the remaining ashes in Ireland, that way, a little piece Grandad (or whoever) gets to go back home tot he motherland.

What are your future plans for the business?
I have written a book about funeral planning in Ireland – Say Farewell Your Way and I have 3/4 more books up in my head that I would like to start getting out over the next 5 years. One will very much be of benefit to the Irish Diaspora worldwide. With regards the jewelry we are currently working on a men’s bracelet and a Christmas piece. There will be more products added to the lines over the next year. We have also launched a pet specific website –

How has the Celtic marketplace evolved in recent years?
This is my first year at Lombard but it is an excellently run show so I look forward to coming back and seeing how it evolves from now on!

Why is Lombard an important event for you?
I did Secaucus in April and so Lombard seemed like an obvious follow up event for us but I really like the intimacy of the show – its a lot smaller than Secaucus.

Are we doing enough to preserve and promote Celtic culture generally?
I think we could all do a lot more. There are some fabulous business ideas out there and I know there are some groups that really push the Celtic culture but I think there is always room for improvement.

What can we be doing better?
That’s a tough question especially because I am still getting to know the various Celtic publications, events, trade shows, products and services so maybe come back to me on that next year!!"

Friday 30 August 2013

Seamus Heaney - Great Irish Poet Dies

"Between my finger and my thumb, The squat pen rests. I'll dig with it."
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

Recognised by many people worldwide as the best Irish poet since Yeats, and studied by most school children in Ireland, Heaney began his career as a teacher before embarking on the career in poetry that led to him winning the Nobel prize for literature in 1995.

The Nobel prize-winner was born in April 1939, eldest of nine children, on a farm called Mossbawn near Bellaghy in Co Derry, Northern Ireland.

"Let whoever can, win glory before death"

His world renowned poetry first came to public attention in the mid-1960s with his first major collection, Death Of A Naturalist, published in 1966.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny quite rightly stated that "He belongs with Joyce, Yeats, Shaw and Beckett in the pantheon of our greatest literary exponents."

Heaney was made an honorary fellow at Trinity College Dublin and just last year was bestowed with the Seamus Heaney Professorship in Irish Writing at the university.

Notable awards:

  • 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature 
  • PEN Translation Prize (1985) for his translation of Sweeney Astray from Irish into English
  • Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1968)
  • E. M. Forster Award (1975)
  • PEN Translation Prize (1985) 
  • Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001) 
  • T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) 
  • 2 x Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999)
  • He was both the Harvard and the Oxford Professor of Poetry and was made a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1996. 
  • Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry

Random Fact: Former US President Bill Clinton apparently loves Heaney's poetry so much he called his dog 'Seamus'.

  • Death of a Naturalist, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1966.
  • Door into the Dark, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1969.
  • Wintering Out, Faber (London), 1972, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1973.
  • North, Faber, 1975, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1976.
  • Field Work, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1979.
  • Poems: 1965-1975, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1980.
  • (Adapter) Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1984, revised edition, with photographs by Rachel Giese, published as Sweeney's Flight, 1992.
  • Station Island, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1984.
  • The Haw Lantern, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1987.
  • New and Selected Poems, 1969-1987, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1990, revised edition published as Selected Poems, 1966-1987, 1991.
  • Seeing Things: Poems, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1991.
  • The Midnight Verdict, Gallery Books (Old Castle, County Meath, Ireland), 1993.
  • The Spirit Level, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1996.
  • Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1998.
  • Electric Light, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2001.
  • District and Circle, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2006.
  • Contributor to 101 Poems Against War, edited by Matthew Hollis and Paul Keegan, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2003.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Michael Collins Funeral

"I nDíl-Cúimne ar Mícheál Ó Coileáin a fuir bás í Bean-na-mBlat an 22ad la de mí Lugnasa 1922"

 (In memory of Michael Collins who died at Beal na mBlath on 22nd August 1922)
Michael Collins 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) 

An Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

He also became President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, therefore, under the bylaws of the Brotherhood, President of the Irish Republic.

Collins was assassinated in August 1922 during the Irish Civil War at an ambush of his journey returning from Bandon, the village of Béal na Bláth. Collins's men brought his body back to Cork where it was then shipped to Dublin. His funeral mass took place at Dublin's Pro Cathedral (St Mary's) with approx 500,000 people (one fifth of the country's population) attended his funeral.

 "In my opinion it gives us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire 
... but the freedom to achieve it."
Michael Collins on the Treaty in debates.

Sunday 25 August 2013

The Disney Files - Tim Burton

Timothy Walter "Tim" Burton (born August 25, 1958) 

American film director, film producer, writer, artist and animator. He is famous for his dark, gothic, macabre and quirky take on horror and fantasy style movies such as

  • Beetlejuice 
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Ed Wood
  • Sleepy Hollow 
  • Corpse Bride
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Dark Shadows
  • Frankenweenie 
  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure
  • Batman, its first sequel Batman Returns
  • Planet of the Apes 
  • Remakes - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Burton is known for using recurring collaborators on his works; among them are Johnny Depp, musician Danny Elfman, who has composed scores for all but five of the films Burton has directed and/or produced; and actress/partner Helena Bonham Carter. Also Danny DeVito, Jeffrey Jones, Michael Keaton, Christopher Lee, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alan Rickman, Christopher Walken.

He also wrote and illustrated the poetry book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, published in 1997, and a compilation of his drawings, sketches and other artwork, entitled The Art of Tim Burton, was released in 2009.

Burton has directed 16 films and produced 12, as of 2012.

Burton's successful short film 'Stalk of the Celery Monster' attracted the attention of Walt Disney Productions' animation studio, who offered a young Burton apprenticeship at their studio where he worked as an animator, storyboard artist and concept artist on films such as The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and Tron.

'Stalk of the Celery Monster'

While at Disney in 1982, Burton made his first short 'Vincent' a six-minute black-and-white stop motion film. The film was produced by Rick Heinrichs, a guy Burton had befriended while working at Disney.

Burton's next live-action short was a black and white movie called Frankenweenie which was released in 1984 and a little dark by Disney standards - it tells the story of a young boy who tries to revive his dog after it is run over by a car.  After this film was completed, Disney fired Burton, claiming he spent the company's resources on a film that would be too scary for children to watch.

Thursday 18 July 2013

The Disney Files - Walt Disney

Walter Elias "Walt" Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) 

An American animator, film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist hardly needs an introduction. An icon of the 20th Century.

He co founded the Walt Disney Productions (now The Walt Disney Company) which became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world with his brother Roy Disney.

Reportedly, his famous trademark signature was designed for him by one of his animators.

He, with his staff, created some of the world's most well-known fictional characters including Mickey Mouse (Disney provided the original voice).

So where did it all begin? Well he was Irish of course! ;-)
Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901 to Irish-Canadian father Elias Disney and Flora Call Disney. His great-grandfather, Arundel Elias Disney, had emigrated from Gowran, County Kilkenny, Ireland where he was born in 1801.

He began a series of businesses and eventually set up an animation studio with his brother Roy.

In 1932, Disney received a special Academy Award for the creation of the series "Mickey Mouse.

Snow White: When the film industry learned of Disney's plans to produce an animated feature-length version of Snow White, they nicknamed it "Disney's Folly" and were certain it would destroy the Disney Studio. Both Walt's wife Lillian and brother Roy tried to talk him out of the project. The film became the most successful motion picture of 1938 and earned over $8 million on its initial release, the equivalent of  over $130 million today.

He died in December 15, 1966 from lung cancer in Burbank, California. The last thing he reportedly wrote before his death was the name of actor Kurt Russell, the significance of which remains a mystery, even to Russell.

"As long as there is imagination left in the world, Disneyland will never be complete."


  • 4 honorary Academy Awards
  • 7 Emmy Awards
  • Disney holds the record for both the most Academy Award nominations (59) and the number of Oscars awarded (22) between 1932 - 1959. His last competitive Academy Award was posthumous: 1969: Best Short Subject, Cartoons: Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day

Monday 15 July 2013

Farewell Funeral Planners

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Come join the chat!!!

Here are some other ways to connect with us!! --->
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Thursday 27 June 2013

Weddings and Memorials

So I have often said that weddings and funerals have alot in common logistically but recently I have seen some articles and images that have further developed that idea.

One lady incorporated the loss of her father a year previous into her wedding day. Something that the whole world has now seen as the photograph of the moment she collapsed at his graveside in grief has gone viral. Even so far as the photographer was interviewed on Fox News Radio about the moment.

In posting the photo and seeing the reaction, photographer Kari said "I was very hesitant to share this image due to the privacy of the bride. She was so kind to share this with everyone. It was a sweet moment, and an incredibly difficult one to photograph. I lost my mom when I was young so this image meant a lot to me. And now I see how much it means to SO many others."
Zander & Breck Photography FB page here. This is the photo:
It's interesting to read some of the comments on how this photo is affecting people - One lady said that she had lost her Grandmother, little sister and brother in law with 8 months of each other and so when it came to marrying her now husband, she felt that she "could never get married without them there, so my husband and I got (married) at the cemetery" 

Another lady put her wedding bouquet down on her father's grave after the ceremony. Interesting how all these life events are entwined as our lives are. 

Tuesday 25 June 2013

The Disney Files - John Fiedler

 John Donald Fiedler (February 3, 1925 – June 25, 2005) 

Today is the 8 year anniversary of his death but his legacy lives on. The American voice and character actor had a distinctive, high-pitched voice which lead him to lead the character of Piglet in Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh productions.

Famous roles (other than Piglet) include :

  • The nervous Juror #2 in '12 Angry Men'
  • Vinnie, the meek poker player in the film 'The Odd Couple'
  • Mr. Peterson on 'The Bob Newhart Show'

Born in Platteville, Wisconsin, a son of Donald Fiedler and Margaret Phelan a little known fact is that he enlisted in the United States Navy and served until the end of World War II after which he began his acting career in NYC. His career lasted more than 55 years - stage, film, television and radio.

  • Films: True Grit, The Cannonball Run, Harper Valley PTA. 
  • TV: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, My Favorite Martian, Bewitched, Get Smart, The Rockford Files, Star Trek, The Golden Girls, Cheers, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Bob Newhart Show, Twilight Zone. 
  • Voice work: Disney's The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, Robin Hood, The Emperor's New Groove, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Tigger Movie, Piglet's Big Movie, Pooh's Heffalump Movie, Rascal.

Fiedler died aged 80 on June 25, 2005 in Englewood, New Jersey, one day after the death of his fellow Winnie the Pooh co-star (Tigger), Paul Winchell.

Michael Jackson - 4 year anniversary

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) 

Michael was alot of things but he will primarily be known for his kookiness and his music. An American recording artist, entertainer, father and businessman and also known as the King of Pop, he has been recognised as the most successful entertainer or all time by the Guinness World Records.

Starting his music career in 1964 with his siblings as the Jackson 5 and going solo in 1971, his career spanned four decades.

His 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time and other awards of note are

  • Multiple Guinness World Records 
  • 13 Grammy Awards 
  • The Grammy Legend Award
  • The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 26 American Music Awards including the "Artist of the Century" and "Artist of the 1980s"
  • 13 number-one singles in the United States (solo artist)
  • Jackson won hundreds of awards, which made him the most-awarded recording artist in the history of popular music 
  • On his 52nd birthday on August 29, 2010, he became the most downloaded artist of all time

His funeral:
Jackson's memorial service was held on July 7, 2009. Members of the public could attend on a 'lottery style' basis - 1.6 million fans applied and 8,750 were drawn at random. Jackson's casket was present during the memorial but no information was released about the final disposition of the body.

The memorial service was one of the most watched events in online streaming history. The U.S. audience was estimated by Nielsen to be 31.1 million (35.1 million - burial of former president Ronald Reagan and 33.1 million Americans - 1997 funeral for Princess Diana).

Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson and Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi all performed at the event.

Eulogies were given by Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson with Queen Latifah reading "We had him", a poem written for the occasion by Maya Angelou.

Friday 21 June 2013

JFK and Ireland - 50 years

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy
(May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

He was famously referred to by his initials JFK, and he was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.

John F. Kennedy, during his inaugural address, famously said
"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." 

He asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the "common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself"
"All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."

Kennedy's ancestral home was Ireland - lest anyone forget it. And so we celebrate his infamous visit to Ireland in June 1963 in present day 2013.

A torch lit from the eternal flame at Kennedy's grave in Arlington National Cemetery has made its way to Ireland for a special ceremony this weekend (June 22nd 2013). His daughter Caroline Kennedy and sister Jean Kennedy Smith will use the torch to light an 'emigrant flame' in Mr Kennedy's ancestral home town of New Ross, Wexford.

In a Government dinner hosted by the Tánaiste at Iveagh House, Caroline Kennedy said that "even 50 years ago Ireland led by example by sending members of the Defence Forces to a UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo." Ms Kennedy said that the world owed Ireland "a debt of gratitude" for continuing to send peacekeepers to some of the most dangerous areas of the world and that the Northern Ireland Peace Process had shown the world "the power of hope and the importance of dialogue."

There has and always will be a great affiliation between the Irish and John F Kennedy and not just that he was the first president to visit the island seeking his heritage but he developed a great fondness for the country. The honour guard at JFK's graveside was the 37th Cadet Class of the Irish Army. JFK had been so greatly impressed by the Irish Cadets on his last official visit to Ireland that Jackie Kennedy requested the Irish Army to be the honour guard at the funeral.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Say Farewell, Your Way

My new book! YIPPPEEEE!!! Delighted to announce its arrival - one more thing crossed off my bucket list.

Say Farewell Your Way
A Funeral Planning Guide for Ireland
by Jennifer Muldowney


Despite the fact that human beings have a 100% mortality rate, many people in Ireland feel uncomfortable about discussing death. A new book, SAY FAREWELL YOUR WAY aims to change all that. With practical information on digital legacies, cremation, organ donation, and alternative funerals it casts a refreshing light on Ireland’s long-standing taboo.
The book will be launched at Madison, 6-8 Wicklow StreetDublin 2 (beside Tower Records) on Thursday 13th June from6.00pm to 8.00pm and YOU are invited!!

Books can be purchase on, and

Thursday 23 May 2013

The Dash

The Dash
by Linda Ellis copyright 1996

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone,
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before. 

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

Copyright Linda Ellis see for more details.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Zach Sobiech

Zach Sobiech, aged just 14, found out he had a rare form of terminal cancer (Osteosarcoma). 

Life tried to beat him down but he lived it anyway - the way and for as long as he could.

He passed away - May 20, 2013. Watch his beautiful story.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Britain's Got Talent 2013

Britain's got talent or has Hungary?! STUNNING performance from Hungary theatre group.

Just over a 3 minutes of life...and death.


Friday 12 April 2013

Mount Jerome

On 19 September 1836 Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland was consecrated.

Reverend Stephen Jerome, then vicar of St. Kevin's Parish gave the cemetery its namesake through the estate he established in his own name.

Mount Jerome was the first privately owned cemetery in Ireland, when it first opened in 1836.

It got a famous mention in James Joyce's Ulysses, as it was the burial ground for many of Dublin's Protestants. It was not until the 1920's that the first Catholic burials took place there.

"Then Mount Jerome for the protestants. 
Funerals all over the world everywhere every minute. 
Shovelling them under by the cartload doublequick. 
Thousands every hour. Too many in the world."

In Mount Jerome Cemetery Dublin there is a monument in memoriam to the Wilde family - family of Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde or as we all know him - Oscar Wilde, Irish writer and poet. After writing in different formats throughout the 1880s, he went on to become one of London's most beloved and popular playwrights in the early 1890s.

"To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.” - Oscar Wilde

Other people of note buried there include Thomas Davis, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, John Millington Synge, Jack B. Yeats, Sir William Rowan Hamilton and George Petrie.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Milo O’Shea

Irish actor Milo O’Shea passed away in New York last night (2 June 1926 – 2 April 2013).

Born and raised in Dublin, the veteran actor went to the Christian Brothers school in Synge Street.

O’Shea lived in New York, where he moved in 1976.

Described by Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan as “a giant of stage and screen” .
“During his career in theatre and film, both at home and abroad, he is remembered for the quality of his performances in a range of challenging and often ground-breaking roles”

Notable Roles:

  • Leopold Bloom in the 1967 film adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses in 1967
  • Neil Jordan’s 1997 film The Butcher Boy
  • 1968 Romeo and Juliet 
  • American sitcom Cheers
  • 1960s BBC sitcom Me Mammy 
  • US comedy Frasier 
  • US political drama the West Wing
  • Roger Vadim's movie Barbarella as a mad scientist
  • Most recently in Irish comedy The Matchmaker

He is survived by his wife the actress Kitty Sullivan, his sons - Colm, Steven and his three grandchildren. He was previously married to Glenroe actor Maureen Toal who died last year but couple divorced in 1974.

Friday 29 March 2013

Celtic Ashes

What if your loved one's last wish was to have their ashes scattered somewhere?

The risk of cremation is that there can often be nowhere to go to 'speak to' the deceased or say prayers or pause for thought. With cremation jewelry a piece of your loved one will always be with you when and where you need them most.

Cremation Jewelry can be a great way to honor the deceased and help family members to remember them, especially if everyone lives in different countries all over the world.

Irish Heritage? A Celtic Connection? Born in Ireland? Loved everything Irish? Loved Boyzone? Wanted to visit Ireland?

Whatever the deceased's connection was to Ireland - sending their ashes to an Irish company who will look after them and return to you a beautiful memorial keepsake to forever hold close might seem like a nice idea.

For more information Check out

Thursday 21 March 2013


What I love about this futuristic method is that it is IRISH!!! and environmentally friendly, has full traceability and because the remains are completely sterile, the ashes can be safely returned to the earth to form a tree or a shrub.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Saint Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th every year in honor of a guy called St. Patrick who died on the day in 461. 

This holiday has been celebrated by the Irish for over 1000 years! 

Born in Britain to a Roman Christian family around 390 A.D., his given name was Maewyn Succat. Aged 16, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a shepherd in Ireland for 7 years. He escaped and sailed back home on a pirate ship. After being ordained a priest and changing his name to Patrick, he traveled back to Ireland to to spread Christianity. After his death, he was largely forgotten until centuries later he was honored as the patron saint of Ireland. 

St. Patrick's Day parades actually began in America with the first St. Patrick's Day parade taking place in New York. The yearly St. Patrick's Day parade in New York is the world's oldest civilian parade. 

So why wear green?? Well there are two versions - the first is that the color represents the Emerald Isle or Ireland and Spring and shamrocks. Legend has it that the shamrock came about when St. Patrick was teaching the Irish about the Holy Trinity and used this three-leafed plant.

The second is that the wearing of the green traces back to when Ireland was a country divided and Catholics lived on the “green side” and Protestants lived on the “orange side.” The Irish flag is green, orange and white representing the catholic side of Ireland, the Protestants and neutrality.

Happy Paddys (not Pattys!!!!) Day! ;-)

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline (September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963)

It's Patsy Cline's 50th anniversary this year. Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Virginia, Patsy Cline was a successful American country music singer. She was one of the most influential and acclaimed female vocalists of the 20th century.

Cline began with "Walking After Midnight" on a tv show called "Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts". "I fall to pieces", "Crazy" and "She's Got You" became some of her most successful hits.

Sadly, she died at the height of her career in a private plane crash aged 30 years. 

Friday 22 February 2013

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) 

Warhol was an American artist who became a leading figure in the visual art movement known as POP ART. He suffered at an early age with a rare neurological disorder and found solace in popular culture and comic magazines.

His works explore artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement in the 1960s.

After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist.

When Warhol died unexpectedly on February 22, 1987, his will dictated that his entire estate should be used to create a foundation dedicated to the "advancement of the visual arts".

His native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, houses The Andy Warhol Museum - an extensive and permanent collection of his art. It is the largest known museum in the United States that is dedicated to a single artist.
See more information here

Thursday 14 February 2013

Monday 11 February 2013

Whitney Houston

Whitney Elizabeth Houston. (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012)

Today marks Whitney Houston's anniversary. There are few people in the world who do not know her iconic name or indeed this iconic image from the movie The Bodyguard. 

She was an American recording artist, actress, producer, and model. 

She sold over 175 million albums, singles and videos worldwide as of her death in 2012. 
Whitney started out singing in her local church choir. Music was in her blood as her cousin was the famous Dionne Warwick, her mother Cissy Houston and aunt Aretha Franklin.

With Movies like 'The Bodyguard', 'The Preacher's Wife' and 'Waiting to Exhale' under her belt, her last movie, released posthumously, was Sparkle.

She turned down a role on The Cosby Show back when it all began and I can only be thankful for that because we might not have known her as the Whitney Houston we still adore today.

Whitney was found drowned in her hotel room just before the Grammys 2012.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

100th POST!

How exciting to know that we have reached out 100th post here. That's not where the excitement ends because Farewell is changing and with it comes lots of new and exciting stories to tell so stay tuned into us, be safe, be happy and as one of my favourite Disney Characters says

"Always let your conscience be your guide..."

"Give a little whistle..."

Thursday 31 January 2013

WH Auden Quote

"It may be that your whole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
 We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know."

 WH Auden

Friday 25 January 2013

Lincoln and Kennedy

Coincidence? I think not....

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost children while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday in the head.
Lincoln 's secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln , was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln , was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names and composed of 15 letters.

Lincoln was shot at the theater named 'Ford.'
Kennedy was shot in a car called ' Lincoln ' made by 'Ford.'

Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theater.

Both Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.