High spirits on show at a lively Funeral Times Trade Show
It's not every day you're asked to road test a coffin. But then again, it's not everyday you find yourself at a trade show for funeral directors and embalmers.
"It's one of our bestsellers," the undertaker joked, gesturing towards the open casket.
The third annual Funeral Times Trade Show kicked off in Dublin yesterday, but this was no morbid affair.
In fact, everyone seemed in high spirits as embalmers, florists and hearse drivers crowded through the doors of Dublin's City West Hotel.
Over 50 businesses were showcasing their wares and stands were filled with satin casket linings, undertakers' bowler hats, football-shaped urns and pale pink condolence books.
Outside, an ornate horse-drawn hearse stood proudly.
The Friesian horses had been left at home in Derry for the day, but a picture showed them in all their plumed glory.
"They wear the plumes to give it a sense of occasion," Vincent Doherty of WD Carriages said. But what about the velvet coats draped over their lower backs?
"To cover their modesty - they are stallions," Vincent said.
In the lobby, Eamonn Walsh was showcasing his uilleann-pipe-playing prowess.
"The most popular funeral song is from that 1984 film The Mission," he said.
"It's called Gabriel's Oboe and is very emotive. Playing at funerals is very emotional experience."
Discussions on top quality concealer, floral wreaths and multi-coloured headstones were sprinkled throughout the day.
It was surprising to find a cardboard coffin propped up against a wall.
"It's more ecologically friendly," said Colin McAteer, the founder of Green Coffins.
Mr McAteer produces some of the highest quality willow wicker caskets in the country and said demand has increased 30pc year-on-year since he founded the company in 2009.
"People like the look of them - they are earthy and warm," he said.
When it comes to gravestones, mourners are becoming more adventurous, opting for colourful granite with elaborate laser drawings etched onto the stone.
"A lot of people want a drawing of a stairway to heaven on the headstones," Derek McGowan of Fingal Memorials said.
"People are more artistic now and they know what they want.
"Headstones used to be black and white, but now people are asking for brown and blue granite, photos, and vases.
"They want something special to remember that special person in their life."