7 Signs That You’re at an Irish Funeral
Death is depressing and sad and funerals are awful. When you’re young, they can be somewhat of an awkward inconvenience – you’re dragged to the home of a neighbour or cousin and never quite sure what to say. As you grow up, the senseless and inevitability become clear to you. Knowing what to say is still difficult, but the rituals of saying goodbye start to become more understandable in their meaning. Without warning, one day you will become astute at handling death. And even though it’s awful and sad, you’ll start to observe the darkly hilarious goings on of every Irish funeral ever. Here’s how you’ll know you’re there.
The absolute shamefulness of you, showing up at literal death’s actual door without a plate of sandwiches or a few scones. There is a very clear menu where wakes and funerals are concerned. There must be rounds of sandwiches. There must be tea. There must be ‘something hot’ for the family. An Irish funeral would be a good place to find yourself when the apocalypse kicks off, because you’ll be eating your way out of there for 4 years.
The rosary means different things to different funeral attendees. For the lapsed Catholics, it means trying to exit the wake room all nonchalant like as soon as the priest appears or risk coming out in a cold sweat if they’re called upon to say a decade. For religious oul wans its a bloodsport. There are only so many decades of the rosary to go around, and they’ll bate the head off you with a handbag to take you out of contention.
THE IRREGULAR MASSGOERS
Ever watched someone struggle with knowing when to sit, stand and kneel? That’s some funeral comedy
for all the family right there. We recommend sitting near the back to get the full birds eye view of everyone royally ballsing up their mass moves. It’s just not like the Macarena lads, you won’t remember it years later as soon as the music starts up.
Funerals are magnets for local TDs. They also inevitably draw at least one person who ‘shouldn’t have the nerve to show their face’. Spend an hour in an average wake house and you’ll definitely hear conversation along the lines of “What’s that Fianna Fáil bollix doing here? Looking for votes I suppose.” and “What’s that bitch doing here? The nerve.” For added funeral fun, start a rumour that you saw someone unwelcome dropping a mass card into the pile or queueing for a sandwich and watch the bile spew forth.
THE OLD WOMAN
Someone you don’t even know will wail beside the coffin for at least six hours, only stopping to repeat ‘ah jaysus isn’t it fierce?’
THE STRANGE COMPLIMENTS
Irish people can’t take compliments. We all know that ‘thanks, Penneys’ is the polite response to anyone liking your outfit, even if it’s straight out of Brown Thomas and cost you a month’s salary. You should also reject anything positive about your looks, wit or success. In death, we lose our catlike readiness to bat away anything resembling a positive comment. And so the neighbours traipse in and use the opportunity to compliment the corse, unhindered.
Someone will say the corpse is ‘looking well’. Maybe even ‘ten years younger’. And didn’t he ‘die with a smile on his face’.
It may be supposed to be of comfort to those left behind, but it’s a bit fucking weird to announce that someone is looking the best they’ve ever looked only after they’ve shrugged off the mortal coil and are boxed up, waiting for the ground.
The thing about funerals is that while they’re terribly sad they also tend to be, conversely, great craic. Black humour finds several openings throughout proceedings. There’s the obligatory recounting of all the best stories about the deceased. It’s the first time the extended family of 83 people have gotten together since the last funeral. Despite everything, funerals are banter.