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Irish Funeral Words and Phrases

Here are some of the most common words and phrases used in relation to Irish funerals. Our blog has more information, and if you still have questions, you can contact us or your funeral director, we are happy to help.


A celebrant is defined as ‘someone who conducts a ceremony’. In religious terms, this is usually an ordained leader, but in a non-religious setting, a funeral celebrant is a person trained to lead a funeral.


A columbarium is a wall, room, or building (pictured), built for the purpose of storing urns of cremated remains/ ashes. Each space or niche can store up to four urns (please check with your funeral director for your particular area).


A cortège is a funeral procession, either on foot or by vehicle.

Direct burial or cremation

A direct burial or cremation is one which takes place with no wake or ceremony. It is a private and/or low-cost option.

Evening removal

Evening removal ceremonies are usually only held for Catholic funerals, where the coffin is brought to the church the evening before the funeral, and kept there overnight until the day of the funeral.

Family cars/limousines

It is quite common in large towns and cities to hire family cars or limousines to take the chief mourners to the church and graveyard or crematorium. This can be of benefit where the practicalities of travelling or parking are difficult, or if the family members don’t have access to cars.

Funeral flowers

Traditionally, funeral flowers consist of a main arrangement called a coffin spray, which is a large, oval-shaped arrangement. Wreaths in all kinds of shapes and sizes can also be arranged, using natural or artificial flowers. Individual flowers can be placed on the coffin at the time of burial or cremation by family members as a symbolic gesture. Bear in mind that if you choose cremation, the crematorium do not keep the flowers, and they must be taken away by the family or funeral director.

Coffin Spray

Letter Wreath

Circular Wreath

Individual Flowers

Grave Plot Size

A single plot is one grave-space wide, while a double plot is generally two grave spaces wide. It is usually possible to bury two or three coffins or urns in each grave space, so a single plot can accommodate two or three burials and a double the plot can accommodate four to six burials.

Video livestreaming/recording

Livestreaming of a funeral is a live broadcast via webcam, website or other social platform. This can be very comforting for people who are not able to make the journey to the funeral. Recording ensures that there is a permanent record of the day for current and future generations.

Order of Service or Mass booklets

These can be prepared at the time of your funeral, and kept by mourners as a memory of the day.

Presentation and embalming

Presentation refers to the clothing, makeup and jewellery used to present the body for viewing. Embalming is a chemical process used to preserve the body until burial or cremation takes place. Embalming is highly recommended as it can reduce the chances of any distress caused by the natural processes that happen to a body after death.

Temporary grave marker

A temporary grave marker usually comes in the form of a cross or spike, with a plate giving details of the name and date of death. It marks the grave until a permanent memorial is in place.

Types of coffins/urns

The most popular material for the manufacture of coffins or caskets is wood. A traditional coffin can be solid or veneered. Veneered coffins are usually lower in cost and lighter in weight than solid coffins. There are many alternative coffins also available – eco friendly and picture coffins can be sourced but may take longer than a traditional coffin. A personalised coffin can be decorated with a scene from your favourite place, family photographs, or symbols of your hobbies and interests. Many styles of cremation urns and jewellery are also available.
Ask your funeral director for more information.

Simple Coffin

Traditional Coffin

Eco Coffin


Cremated Remains/ Ashes Casket