It’s hard not to think of death on a day like this, when Queen Elizabeth’s funeral procession is being broadcast in pomp and pomp across a billion television screens worldwide.
ard also have no inkling of our own mortality as the drum slowly beats a reality we all must someday face. Funerals are a healing reminder of Latin wisdom Tempus fugit, memento mori… Time flies, think of death.
Or, as a friend in Kinsale keeps reminding me, “Dance like nobody’s looking and live each day like it’s your last.”
Whatever inner thoughts QEII’s final voyage may stir up, one thing is certain – I would prefer my last rites to take place in Ireland than anywhere else.
And with so many tributes extolling her virtues of ‘the common grade’ and ‘normal as we are’, one wonders if she would have preferred a proper Irish farewell rather than the swagger and opulence seen over the last week were put on display?
That we Irish make death good is a universally accepted truth, and perhaps our celebration of life in the shadow of the coffin is an art that much of the world should emulate.
I remember passing through a small town in Clare at the height of the pandemic when a funeral was being held. Constrained by Covid restrictions on church attendance, the town’s residents instead lined the streets and, as the hearse drove by, began a lusty verse from Óró, Sé do bheatha bhaile, anois ar theacht an tsamhraidh – Now that summer is coming, you are welcome home.
That single moment said more about our culture than a thousand history books ever could. For my own final exit, I need the full Irish – fumbling fiddlers, tall tales, strong liquor, professional keeners and a wake lasting at least three days.
Like a geriatric costume party, the action will play out in every room of the house, with me lying on the kitchen table in a state of heightened prominence. And if I don’t pong too much, leave the coffin open.
“Looking at the body holds a mirror up to our mortality,” says Christy Kenneally, author of life after loss. “We are confronting one of our deepest fears.”
And if you can’t find a modern version of these impassioned 19th-century singers wailing sorrowful songs and lamenting my death, I’ll definitely leave Britney Spears or Zendaya lookalikes a few quid in the till to perform what needs to be done .
I would also like to revive the old tradition of scattering clay pipes filled with tobacco around the house – a ritual in which even non-smokers willingly took part out of respect for the dead. If a kind soul can snag some homegrown West Cork marijuana, all the better.
When my worn-out clogs finally pop open, one hopes I’ll walk out the way Tecumseh, the Native American chief Shawnee, prescribed: “When your time to die comes, don’t be like those whose hearts are filled with fear. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
And so it is.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/forget-all-the-pomp-of-a-formal-state-funeral-when-the-time-comes-it-will-be-a-decent-irish-send-off-for-me-41999149.html Forget all the pomp of a formal state funeral, when the time comes it will be a proper Irish farewell for me