Evening removal services dying out as funerals evolve

The traditional practice of evening removal services in churches as part of Irish funerals is dying out.

The Irish Association of Funeral Directors has seen a marked drop in the number of evening removal services where the body of a loved one is removed to a church for prayers and left there overnight until the funeral Mass the following morning.

In Dublin, the majority of funerals now go straight to the church on the day of the burial.

“Only about one in four funerals would have an evening removal service in the north east of Ireland and it is even less in Dublin” said Colm Kieran, spokesperson for the IAFD.

“In Dublin it is primarily down to the number and the availability of priests.”

Funeral director, Peter Massey, said evening removals are now a rare occurrence in the capital.

“They have become a thing of the past, whether it’s to do with the fact there are fewer priests or more to do with people preferring to bring their loved ones home if possible or in the nursing home,” said the director of Peter Massey Funerals in Sandyford in Dublin.

“The family would never be refused an evening removal in the church and there is no extra cost but the younger generation don’t tend to want to leave their loved ones in the church overnight.

“Years ago, their mammy’s mammy would have thought it would be wonderful to be left in the church. It’s changed.”

The Sandyford funeral director said morning funerals are becoming smaller as a result of the changing practice.

“Now the funerals take longer in the morning but they are smaller because people are tied to work.

“If you look at RIP.ie, very few funerals in Dublin go to the church now the evening before. It is rare now.

“The last 10 funerals here would have gone straight to the church on the morning. It has really changed in the last five years.”

Colm Kieran, spokesman for the Irish Association of Funeral Directors, said civil funerals are on the rise.

“In the country, civil funerals are less than 10% and in city areas it is between 15% and 20%.”

He said Irish funerals are following the American trend of becoming increasingly personalised. “People have much more input into whether a funeral takes place in a wake house or a funeral home, in relation to photographs, music, graveside music.

“People are requesting stationery for the day of the funeral like bookmarks. People now expect and should expect a much higher standard of personalisation when it comes to funerals than your traditional ceremony and removal to a church. They are much more involved now before and after the ceremony.

“I have seen people involved in the trucking industry being removed from their home to the church in an adapted truck. If they are involved in biking, there might be a guard of honour on motorbikes.

“In rural areas there might be a guard of honour of farm machinery or trucks. The personal tributes are increasing, the collective tributes from organisations they’re involved in.”

A spokesperson for Dublin Diocese said they have noticed the trend of evening removal services declining in number.

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