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A Civil Funeral Ceremony is for any person regardless of what beliefs, if any, he/she held. There is no set format for a civil funeral.
Each ceremony is unique - as unique as the person who has died; as unique as the life they lived. It is a ceremony created especially for them.

The Civil Funeral Ceremony:

a) Reflects the beliefs, wishes, values, and cultural traditions of the person who has died.
b) Fulfils the needs of the people closest to that person.
c) Meets the expectations of all who come to the funeral.
d) Is a highly personal ceremony.


The options are limitless - personally chosen music, hymns or songs; the inclusion of readings or poetry; perhaps some prayers or reflections. At the heart of the ceremony will be a tribute or eulogy, celebrating the life of the person who has passed away.
As a Civil Funeral Celebrant, I will advise and guide you through this sad and difficult time. I can interpret your wishes, make many suggestions about content and structure and help you to create a ceremony that is a fitting tribute to your loved one. At all times you remain in control of how the ceremony is conducted.


In cases where the deceased was not a religious person or was not constrained by a pre-ordained religious liturgy, a Civil Funeral Ceremony can provide the best of both worlds.

a) It allows the funeral to become a true celebration of the life of the deceased.
b) It can be adapted to suit the wishes of both the deceased and the family.
c) It can be personalised to suit the requirements of the bereaved o It gives the option of some religious content if desired It gives the bereaved ownership of how they wish to grieve for the loss of their loved one.

The Ashes

The ashes will be available within 4 working days after the cremation. You can make arrangements through Patrick O’Donovan & Son or the crematorium for the remains to be buried in the crematorium's Garden of Remembrance.  Alternatively, the ashes can be collected in an urn from Patrick O’Donovan & Son. You can then bury the remains in a family grave or you may disperse them as you wish. If the dispersal is not on private ground, permission should be obtained from the appropriate authority, for example, the local authority.


Is a Civil Funeral Ceremony the same as a Humanist Ceremony?

No, they are not the same, as a Civil Funeral Ceremony is open to the inclusion of hymns or prayers should the family wish. Although it is possible and not unusual to have a Civil Funeral Ceremony where there is a complete absence of religious references, the Irish Humanist Association remain the undisputed experts in non-religious funerals.

Can I choose the music that I wish to be played?

Absolutely — all decisions regarding content for the ceremony is led by the family. The Civil Funeral Celebrant will facilitate all decisions and can offer advice or suggestions if needed.

What if a family member does not wish to give the Eulogy?

In the event that a family member does not feel confident about delivering the eulogy or tribute, the Civil Funeral Celebrant can do so on their behalf. The family can discuss what they would like to say about the deceased ensuring that the eulogy represents a true picture of their loved one.

Do I have to choose all the readings and reflections?

The format of the funeral is entirely up to the family. Poems, prose or song lyrics that were favourites of the deceased can be included. If desired, some prayers and reflections can be incorporated into the ceremony. The Civil Funeral Celebrant will be able to assist you with all these details and offer suggestions and advice if required.

Where is a Civil Funeral Ceremony held?

A Civil Funeral Ceremony can be held in a funeral home, in the home of the deceased, an hotel or at the crematorium. In some cases, families prefer to have a private cremation, followed by a Memorial Service one month later. This can also be facilitated and is usually held in a private room of a hotel or other such venue.

What is the role of the Civil Funeral Celebrant?

The role of the Civil Funeral Celebrant can be as involved as you want. He can advise and assist you with the planning of the funeral. He will guide the ceremony, ensuring that the funeral proceeds according to your wishes. If required, he can deliver the tribute or eulogy and read reflections.

Is the Civil Funeral Celebrant qualified to conduct the ceremony? Yes, as a member of the Institute of Civil Funerals (IOCF), the Civil Funeral Celebrant has been through rigorous training and assessment. The Institute constantly monitors members so that you can be assured that the highest quality standards are always met.

Patrick O'Donovan & Son Funeral Directors provide a range of civil and humanist funeral ceremonies.


A Humanist funeral focus on the person who has died, balancing the sadness of loss with a
celebration of the person’s life. If possible, the celebrant will meet the family or friends who are organising the funeral, and together they will plan a meaningful ceremony. Otherwise, the ceremony can be arranged by telephone or skype. The celebrant will take the time to learn as much as possible about the person who has died, and the family will usually contribute readings or music. These contributions will often be reflective, capturing the essence of the person who has died. The celebrant will lead the ceremony, using appropriate words at the beginning and end, with dignity and warmth.

Where will the funeral be held?

Humanist funerals can be held in any suitable venue: in a crematorium, at the graveside, in the funeral parlour, at a hotel, a community hall, in gardens, a woodland, a marquee or a private home. One option is to have a short ceremony at the graveside, and then a celebration of the person’s life in a venue such as a hotel or hall. The funeral director shoul be able to advise you about suitable venues in your locality.

When can the funeral be held?

Humanist funerals can be held at any time. In the case of a cremation, it is useful to arrange the funeral as the last cremation of the day, or to book two consecutive slots, in order to allow sufficient time for a full ceremony. The ceremony will normally last at least 40 minutes, so allowing up to one hour is advisable.

Some of the family are religious – can their beliefs be included?

Humanism acknowledges the right of all to people to choose and practise their own philosophical life stance, and it is important to us that everyone is included in a funeral  ceremony. While the celebrant cannot say anything religious, the funeral can include a, minute’s silence during which all mourners can consider the life of the deceased and grieve according to their own custom. While Humanist funerals are by definition secular, that is, non-religious, some celebrants may on occasion agree to prayers being spoken aloud by religious mourners.

How much does a funeral ceremony cost?

Humanist celebrants are accredited by the HAI but operate as independent service providers so do not have a fixed fee rate – please discuss with your celebrant. Typically, you can expect a guideline fee in the region of €300 (this includes a €25 contribution to the HAI). Fees may vary from celebrant to celebrant, particularly if the venue is some distance from them as they will incur travel costs. Some of our celebrants are VAT-registered and, as such, need to add 23% VAT to their fees.

Can I arrange my own funeral?

People often ask if they can arrange their own Humanist funeral, so that they can be sure that their funeral will fit with their own convictions. Most celebrants would be very favourably disposed to discussing your funeral ceremony with you. You should make sure your wishes are known to whoever will be making the funeral arrangements. We would advise you to put your wishes in writing.

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