Dublin Funerals: The places we live. The locations we die. The people we honour. The Original Jennings, still at the Five Lamps – casting light in times of loss.
The original Jennings Funeral Directors at Dublin’s historical Five Lamps was large enough in its day to cater to the funeral needs of Dublin’s teeming inner city population. For example, in Brendan Behan’s Dublin, in the writer’s original birthplace around Russell Street and Mountjoy Square, there wasn’t much call for funeral homes in Raheny or Coolock – which were still small Irish villages surrounded by fields.
Things change, as we all know, and this small series of Jennings articles will trace the story of how Funeral Directors somehow reflect the life and outward movement of a city and its people – across time, life cycles, and down the Dublin decades.
So, in the 1980s, when Jennings Funeral Directors recognised the need to provide Funerals Homes in the growing suburbs of Coolock and Raheny, it wasn’t as simple as a clear blue line across a Google Map online running from Amiens Street Dublin 1 to Springdale Road in Raheny. If life was simple, the growth in the suburbs might indicate a decline in the cities. No so if you consider that Jennings Funeral Directors still provide a relevant and vibrant service at their original Five Lamps location.
Funeral Processions in Dublin – a Google Map line, or an emotional chart marking family movements from city to suburb, and back again?
Funeral Homes were needed in the suburbs by the 1980s but nobody knew exactly what would happen. Would the original Jennings of the Five Lamps would somehow prove less essential to people? Would places like Raheny, Coolock, and Artane become the new city centre? Would Dublin’s inner city need a farewell funeral service itself to mark the move of families to the outskirts? Absolutely not. As a place to live, Dublin still has a great big heartbeat. It says a lot that the original Jennings of the Five Lamps are still an essential core service, still honoured to uphold as pillars of good standards on the corner of Amiens Street and Seville Place. Many local families depend on Jennings Funeral Directors, from thriving areas around Gardiner Street, North Strand, East Wall and beyond. And the endurance of one funeral home has not meant the death of another. Because the ‘new’ funeral homes in Coolock and Raheny have developed, grown and become part of communal life in the new housing estates laid out along North Dublin serving the people in Dublin 5 and beyond.
Funeral tributes matter deeply to Dublin people, locations change, but community endures.
It’s hard to believe that Kilbarrack with its old graveyard and Mariners Church was once a rural area linked to the sea. But Funeral Directors understand that when a city expands and grows, then the essential community services follow suit. Service providers such as undertakers, expand accordingly, in as timely a manner as a dignified funeral cortege.
And in a way, a Funeral Director’s progression, (or procession!) in how they serve, expand and adapt to community needs, provides an interesting mirror of how we live, the ways we differ from our grandparents – but also the ways in which we Dubliners remain the same, retain the same dedication to funeral customs for example. Funerals are deeply important to Irish people, and Dubliners don’t fall short in this regard.
And the irony wouldn’t be lost on the likes of Brendan Behan either – the fact that an undertaker copes with all aspects of death on a daily basis, yet the way a Funeral Director adapts to what people need reflects the life blood of a city and how it expands, lives, grows and thrives.
Nothing is simple – just because a growing family moved in the 1970’s from a small flat in the North Strand to a three-bedroomed house in Raheny does not mean they lose their links with Dublin city. In a Funeral Director’s working day, all aspects of their business can be called upon to provide the very best funeral a family need.
For instance, in any given week, you might read a death notice on the Jennings website, or in the daily newspapers – funeral details and times, for example, a Reposal taking place in Jennings of Oscar Traynor Road, and that same funeral proceeding to the Funeral Mass in the ProCathedral the following morning and maybe back out to Fingal Cemetery. This might have been an elderly man originally from Parnell Square passing away in his daughter’s family home in Coolock, but the family still keenly linked to the city and a connection to that wonderful old church in Dublin 1. Whatever the grieving family need from us – that’s always been part of Jennings ethos – whether the Funeral Director is availing of Google Directions in his meticulous planning, or, in pre-internet parlance of the 70s and 80s, the good old-fashioned Ordinance Survey map of Dublin still relevant on the wall of Jennings Operations Dept. So – when a Jennings staff member publishes a death notice with a lot of detail, you can be sure there was a lot of planning involved – and that often more than one branch is called upon to create a funeral that will reflect what the family need in their personal tribute to their beloved relative.
Brendan Behan had his own unique take on bereavement notices – he famously quipped – there’s no such thing as bad publicity – bar your own obituary notice. The same true Dubliner is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery – and his gravestone alone marks a story for another day. To be continued.