Funeral spend has plunged in Ireland

Charles Cowling

Funeral of DJ Gerry Ryan, May 2010


From the Irish Independent an alarming trend (if you’re an undertaker) and a familiar issue:

Undertakers say the average cost of a funeral has dropped by almost 40pc in the past five years.

They say cash-strapped families have had little choice but to compromise on funeral ceremonies by foregoing extras that they once took for granted, like flowers, music and limousines.

At the height of the boom, an average funeral would cost €6,500. But it wasn’t uncommon for upwards of €10,000 to be spent up on laying a loved one to rest in lavish ceremonies.

However, it appears bereaved families are more dissatisfied with the service they are receiving from Ireland’s 600 undertakers. According to the Irish Association of Funeral Directors, which represents 250 funeral directors, there has been a “marked increase” in the number of complaints this year.

Many of the complaints relate to the lack of transparency about invoicing, an issue that could be resolved if the industry were better regulated, Mr Nicholls [of the IAFD] believes.

He insists standards will only improve once the industry is regulated, forcing all undertakers to adopt higher standards, improve training and provide transparency in their invoicing to clients. “There are no barriers to entry and no licensing in an industry responsible for the burial or cremation of up to 30,000 people a year,” he said.

Whole article here

4 thoughts on “Funeral spend has plunged in Ireland

  1. Charles Cowling
    andrew plume


    “……..Surely no-one would willingly deal with a firm owned by a venture capitalist or any organisation more concerned with the bottom line than service?………..”

    I agree, the emphasis is on “….willingly…” – this is of course all part of the masquerade regarding ‘transparency of ownership’

    All four corporates mentioned by me, inc the Co-op are leveraged and highly geared vehicles in one shape or form – none of them will be able to offer the sort of departure that you have suggested, the cost base, including in the case of Dignity a large amount of interest to reduce/handle, not to mention all of the mid level unnecessary management (at all of these)totally precludes this possibility ever occuring

    FSP and LM are examples of where ownership is with a Venture Capital Fund. Said Fund are not in the ownership business for 20-30 years, no they are there to ‘fatten the calf’ for a few years and then flog it on to the next VC fund that comes along. All of this (needless to say) affects the pricing for future funerals and it’s the everyday unaware punter who picks this up. As you know, there is a massive contrast between this and the small independent one office family business

    Here’s a side issue for an example but nonetheless having a bearing on future pricing and with reference to LM. I refer to their ownership of B Matthews of Hampshire. For some incredulous reason the previous management at LM decided to open a shop in Winchester, oh about ten years or so ago, to take on the Steel family. LM/Matthews have now exited Winchester, no doubt licking significant wounds – I would doubt if that branch did anymore than 10 a year at best and with Winchester overheads that was nothing more than a sizeable tax loss


    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    David Holmes

    What my new site will do, is start with this low simple funeral, basic cremation price – so anyone looking, will know what is the least amount they can spend.

    We can and do offer a traditional funeral service, with a wood, wicker or colourful coffin, church service, limousine etc at double the basic price, currently around £2,000, but what I feel is important is that the client chooses, we are not imposing anything as part of a traditional fixed package.

    In reality for almost twenty years I have also offered a free advice DIY help service, selling a coffin for collection, at little more than cost price. I have had a few people call me, however no-one has yet done it all without some assistance. I remain very willing to provide whatever I can, if anyone wants to go this route.

    Surely no-one would willingly deal with a firm owned by a venture capitalist or any organisation more concerned with the bottom line than service?

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    andrew plume


    Good stuff (as far as I’m concerned)and your 4u site clearly does what it says ‘on the tin’

    I definitely agree, all f/s’s with websites should very much disclose their prices

    As far as I’m concerned, there’s no chance of this occuring with f’care, dignity, fsp (who have a lousy wesite set up) and lm, they are all very much scared of their own shadow/ownership to be bothered with being up front re costs

    They are after all, very much leveraged vehicles, to put it mildly – I’m not convinced that your average punter would be satisfied with putting their business in the direction of a subsidiary of a venture capital company, (for the last two mentioned) even if they knew that


    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    David Holmes

    I think the same is happening here in England. Two years ago we noticed people have less to spend, simplefunerals4u is our answer. Dignity already complained about us, so we think we must be doing something right? This is real transparency, our main website is being re-worked to offer the same services. A basic funeral service at £1,000, to include a coffin. Everything else the client wants is an extra. I believe ALL funeral directors with websites should advertise prices on them. Some hope, many can’t even be up front about their ultimate ownership.

    Charles Cowling

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