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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Septic Tanks, ®Pringles, And Con Houlihan

      The only information I seemed to pick up in the month of February appeared to be pertaining to death in some shape or form. First I heard about the Dublin woman who when getting her affairs in order and preparing her will, met with her funeral undertaker to talk about what type of funeral service she wanted, etc.

      She told him she had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered over Marks and Spencers.

       " Marks and Spencers !" the astonished man said. "Why Marks and Spencers?"

       "That way, I know my daughters will visit me twice a week."

      Then I was talking to a Wicklow singer/songwriter, who wouldn’t dream of telling me a lie.

       He told me of how he was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man in an isolated area in the backs of Wicklow. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s end of the grave yard. Or the “poor ground” as we call it around here. Not being familiar with the area south of Roundwood the performer got lost.

      When he finally arrived an hour late he found that the funeral undertaker had already gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

       He felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. He went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. He didn’t know what else to do, so he started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. He I played out his heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. He played like he’d never played before for this homeless man : “The Wicklow Mountains High,” “Sunrise on the Wicklow Hills, “The Blackbird of sweet Avondale” and many more lesser-known tunes from the Garden-county.

       As he finished with “ Among the Wicklow Hills,” the workers began to weep. They wept, the singer wept, they all wept together. When he finished he packed up his guitar and started for his car. He told me , “Though my head hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, ‘I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.’ ”

       Then when I read of how Fredric Baur, who dreamed up the original ®Pringles can, was so proud of the achievement, he wanted to go to his grave with it. So when Baur died his children buried the 89-year-old's ashes in one of his iconic cans.

      This prompted me to contact Stephen Power , a Limerick man who has invented the Urn Tower. Stephen’s Urn Tower , the first of its kind in the world, becomes both the Head Stone and Niche for holding Cremated Remains. It comes in a variety of default sizes to hold from one to four urns. The original holding capacity can also be increased by the addition of an extension niche if required. This approach also offers more privacy to visiting family and friends. It Provides for a more personalised and affordable memorial. It can be moved to another location at a later date should the need arise

Urn Tower

       It solves many issues faced by cemetery providers in dealing with the problem faced by them in the areas of remaining capacity of existing cemeteries not being sufficient to meet growing demand. Often this problem has been imposed on them where current infrastructure is inadequate to meet the changing demand.

      The Urn Tower increases Cemetery capacity by enabling the use of existing ground previously considered unsuitable, allows for wider selection of cemetery sites as interment is above the ground and is modular thus allowing cemeteries better match demand with supply.

His Master's Ashes

       A recent report found that the cost of dying has risen seven times faster than the cost of living. In Ireland, a new grave can cost from €500 to €14,000. This does not cover the extras such as opening the grave, monument fees and headstone costs and that is assuming there is space available in your graveyard of choice. Using Urn Towers affords a considerable cost saving compared to traditional graveyard burials

       Cremation rates are growing by up to 20% every year. A growing population and the influx of people to cities and towns is putting pressure on graveyards. Many graveyard managers are running out of space. Cremation offers some relief on these issues. Some families scatter the ashes in places where the deceased person had some attachment however, other families would prefer to have a permanent place to visit and remember a loved one who has chosen cremation. Urn Towers offer a real solution for this very modern dilemma.

Credit for details (and more info) from

* * * * *

      Oh, all my February reading wasn’t about death. I read “In So Many Words”, a collection of articles by the late, great, Con Houlihan. It is sadly out of print but sometimes available on Amazon. I would strongly recommend it. Who else could write about his grandfather taking flight from Caherciveen to Castle Island, “ . . .to avoid being charged for sheep-stealing, seemingly he didn’t fancy the alternatives of the hangman’s rope or transportation to Australia.”

The late Con Houlihan

       And referring to fishermen he said, “You meet a better class of rogue by the river.” Essentially a sports writer Con wrote, “ . . . the proliferation of Soccer in this island is about the best thing that happened to us since the arrival of the potato.” And of Rugby he says that it is,” as much a part of our culture as bacon and puds and cabbage and the clay pipe.” He points out that he doesn’t mind a person not being interested in sport but when they boast about t heir indifference it was too much for him, “They seem to regard it as a symptom of intellectual superiority.” We hear a lot about the Irish “Character” a term used to describe a colourful native but Con more or less describes him as, “Someone who borrows money from you and then proceeds to bore the trousers off you.”

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