I went to a funeral tonight. Well, actually, I went to the removal.

It always surprises me how many people from outside Ireland visit here, so perhaps I should explain. We have a custom where a person who has died lies in state at the undertaker’s premises, and all his friends, and the friends of the family, come to commiserate with the bereaved. Usually, what happens is that you walk into the place, and the departed is laid out in the coffin, and all the relatives are there, the men standing up and the women sitting down, and you file past them shaking hands with them. This is called the removal, because when everybody is finished shaking hands, the deceased is removed to the church for a brief religious ceremony, to be followed by another ceremony tomorrow, followed by a burial. (Unless you’re having a cremation, when you just send the deceased off in a taxi, and everybody goes straight to the pub).

Now, I have always had a problem with this hand-shaking business. I don’t like shaking hands with teenagers I’ve never met in my life. You don’t know where their hands have been, or actually, you do. Sorry for your troubles? Most of my life is given over to screaming at teenagers. Put that thing fukken down!! It’ll go into someone’s eye!!!

I also don’t like commiserating with the idiot brothers-in-law who never liked the deceased but are standing there anyway, and you have to walk up to them and shake their fucking hand and tell them you’re sorry for their troubles. Troubles? What troubles? They hated the fucker. In reality, all you want to do is walk over, knee them in the crotch, head-butt them as they collapse and say That’s for behaving like a prick at the christening, ya cunt. Not that you can do that at a funeral, you understand, but you’d like to.

So no. I don’t really like the hand-shaking thing at removals.

A few years ago I came up with an alternative. When I walk in, I approach the first teenager, and I say Well? Did you see the match? With any luck, the teenager recoils in horror, along with his cousins, and I move on to the seated women. Ah, Jaysus, Nuala, is it yourself? I might remark to the grieving widow. Christ, you’re gone very old-lookin’. That gets me past the women without too much trouble, even if it does provoke a fresh outbreak of crying.

The standing men can be a problem if you don’t handle it right.

I used to say Well, that about wraps it up. Your man is dead. Pint?

But that earned me a flattened nose and a slight limp, so now what I do is this. I negotiated a deal with a local lap-dancing club. I simply hand out a card to each of the lads: Post-funeral special offer. Very sympathetic Latvian hookers.

Call up there after the burial, I tell them. Great place. Take your mind off the whole thing.

It’s great, and I collect a commission as well, so everyone’s a winner.

kick it on kick.ie

16 thoughts on “Funerals

  1. In Lewis funeral going is practically a hobby for some people and everyone is related to everyone so we’re all going all the time. Plus the wakes.

    The worst part of a Lewis wake is when all the cailleachs and bodachs are sitting around assessing the undertaker’s work. “Oh they did a super job on him, he looks just like himself. It was Wee Ally that did him, Old Ally’s getting worse with the bottle. It’s a shame, but then look at his job. He’ll have to bury all of us.”

    “Oh yes, she’s looking lovely in her coffin. They got my other sister’s nose all wrong, you know.”

    “I hear it’s hard for them to do the upper lip.”

    And so on until all the tea and sandwiches are gone for the ladies, and the whiskey and sausage rolls are gone for the men.

  2. Christ it’s all true Bock. After the removal, you’ve got to get to the church before the departed to be there when they put him on the trestles for his brief overnight lying in state and you find yourself looking at the brothers and thinking:

    “well he ‘s all right, always liked him, but big Frank’s a total arsehole, if he tries to be friendly I might tell him to fuck right off, and look at the boys, they might have smartened themselves up, they look like two fucking joyriders, wee Kylie’s coming on though, I wonder if she’s getting the flat in Hyndland?”

  3. I used to work with a guy who went to at least two funerals a week. Of course, he’d tap everyone first so that he had enough money to go to the pub.
    It also makes the whole process that much harder on the family. You have hit the nail on the head yet again Bock m’man. Still I suppose it’s better than the British way of doing things. You die, you lay in a coffin for ten days and then they have your funeral.

  4. I’ve kneed my brother-in-law in the crotch. I hate the fucker. I feel better just knowing you’ve said as much here. Thank you.

  5. I like funerals.

    See, at weddings, elderly relatives poke me in the ribs saying “ha, ha, you’ll be next”.

    At funerals, I take great pleasure in saying it to them.

  6. Crap, never thought of that primal sneeze, could have shut a fair few people up with that one…

    Bock: you forgot to mention there is one consolation to Irish funerals – the getting totally bladdered before and after (and in certain cases, during). Which makes funerals in my family all the worse because everyone is teetotal…

  7. Sam: Céard faoi na na cailíní agus na buachaillí?

    Maroon: You’re a dirty bastard. I like it.

    Cap’n: You can’t beat a good funeral. We had a great two days when we planted Wirey.

    MJ: Glad to be of help. Do you think I should go into it professionally?

    Mr Sneeze: Or, as Joyce called them, fun-for-alls.

  8. Hey Caro: Sorry. Didn’t see you there. Would it be indelicate to ask why your entire family are teetotal? Are you Amish?

  9. It’s the auld wans going “He/She looks lovely there now” that get me going.
    Fuck Off for yerselves…they look dead!

  10. There’s a fella drinks in my local affectionately known as the Angel of Death. Loves the whole funeral and removal business and keeps everyone informed on who’s next or who’s just checked out. One of the lads took a turn recently and was incommunicado for a while, but then quietly arrived back into the pub and made a liar of outa of everyone. The Angel hadn’t heard and when he asked had “anyone any news”, we fell outa the joint laughing. Strange thing about the Angel is that he looked disappointed when he found out yer man was OK .

    I can remember being at a removal in Nenagh a couple of years back and my mate’s kids were playing a game of hide and seek in the parlour, and one of them was peeping up over her granddad’s coffin. It almost looked she was asking him if he knew where her sister was hiding. I prefer this type of funeral . Have you ever encountered Willie O’D, Minister for Photograph opportunities, doing the rounds where he asks someone at the back of the church the dead person’s name, before he goes to sympathise with the family . Break on through to the other side Bock.


  11. Would it not be better if we had the removel in the pub and kill two birds with the one stone.

  12. Devin: Maybe they mean, “Lovely! He’s there!”

    Mikell: I didn’t know that about the Miniature for the Fence, but I believe you.

    Mother of God: Maybe you’d have a word with your son and see what he can arrange.

  13. Away with your talking Irish at me. Tha Gaeilge na hAlban beag agam – bhuaipe mo seanmháthair – ged nach eil me cainteoir Gaeilge.

    I only know pidgin Scottish Gaelic – Englic – and what my granny told me when i was wee. We never got it at school and my mother only had English so we never talked it at home. I had to look up what you said to me and even then I forgot Irish is different from Scottish Gaelic.

    Don’t be doing that to me again! I don’t know what you’re on about! I have a blinding, stumbling hangover today and trying to translate Irish is making me bilious on account of the green.

    O Fortuna! Oh for a tuna sarnie!

  14. Ceart go leor, a chailín.

    No more Gaelic to be spoken here. You see? It’s those damnable English again.

    We’ll just have to keep beating the shit out of them at the rugby.

    Wherefore the overhang?

  15. We won at Team trivia Tuesdays at out local last night, with liquid prizes double shots of tequilla sunrises, appletinis and some banana vodka/kahlua devilry. Plus all the usual swill. Hurrah for us! Ouch! I can only whisper hurrah for us very quietly today.

    It’s a pity I never learnt Gaelic properly. I have enough to get by at a funeral but Gaelic revival wasn’t popular until I was well into secondary school so I just didn’t do it. It’s a shame, but since then island children are starting to speak it more and a few of my friends work in Gaelic media so things are looking up for it. God knows how much money they’ve spent on it, but it’s a nice language. It’s a good language for talking about death and misery anyway.

  16. Pardon me for jumping in there but Gaelic,the Scottish kind,is now making a bit of a comeback in Eastern Canada.It’s on school curricula in Nova Scotia (duh)and a few more of the Maritimes.

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