Irish funerals: Americans have long had a deep love of Ireland, derived from the immigrant heritage that so many Irish-Americans lay claim to. Whether it’s the huge numbers of ‘authentic’ Irish pubs across many cities or the widely extravagant St Patrick’s Day celebrations (Chicago has been turning their water green to celebrate for over fifty years), this infatuation has brought many Irish start-ups great success in importing. But now, according to the Belfast Telegraph, they’re going one step further: ‘pure Irish soil’ for funerals.
Aiming to break into the fruitful American funeral business, an Irish start-up is touting authentic soil to the United States. Though such a business venture is not the first thing you’d think of about Irish business, the company has already sold their first few canisters to customers across the pond, and have already secured deals with companies in Boston, New York and Pennsylvania. Retailing at around £69.99 per cannister, funeral companies have been purchasing this Irish soil in bulk. Some even come with customised ‘Irish Luck’ gifts of soil or items related specifically to St Patrick’s Day and the floral industry. Families can even pay a bit extra for a 2lb canister of Irish soil so they can have a little bit of the old country in their new homes.
Irish-Americans make up over 10% of the American population (about 33.3 million), according to the 2013 census, and many are unable to return to Ireland to be buried after their deaths. The United States have incredibly strict regulations about the movements of earth and soil products across borders. For many, such a product means they can be buried with a little bit of home alongside them. Whilst their bodies might be buried in the United States, these soil companies allow for Ireland to come to them and create an authentic Irish experience. For many, it’s a sign of the growing personalisation of the funeral industry, with an increasing number of families choosing to tailor funerals to the life and heritage of their loved ones. It’s a new challenge for funeral directors, and these start-ups are getting in on the ground floor of this growing global trend.
The companies are often made up of those who emigrated from Ireland to the United States and have found a flourishing market for these unique products, and are even looking to expand around Europe and other areas that have high Irish immigrant populations. For now, though, it looks as though the Americans can enjoy their Irish fixation with a little piece of the emerald isle wherever they are in the country.