Sinéad Ryan: ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to… well, diamonds?’


If you’re going to set up in business, you’ll get off to a better start in an industry with an endless supply of customers. Just ask any funeral director or tax official.

However, finding new and creative ways to capture your market can be challenging, and with the increasing focus on eco-friendly products, Meath-based mortician Elizabeth Oakes has found a gap in a market which you would think was already at a dead end.

Some 30pc of remains are now cremated in Ireland, a huge increase in a few years. It makes financial sense for the family and the environment also.

‘Aquamation’ is cremation by water (it’s an oxymoron, but stay with me). This soluble alternative is a ‘gentle’ dissolving of tissue, essentially a speeding up of the natural decomposition process and the former embalmer and funeral director has brought it to Irish shores from America. Apparently you get back a third ‘more’ of your loved one’s ashes compared to incineration. Water, heat and alkaloids combine to return the 70pc of our body that is already water to that state. She adds a bonus: pacemakers, prosthetic limbs and other artificial devices are unharmed and recycled.

“We live in a Catholic country and when you think of people going up in flames you think of things like hell and the devil. This is a much more calming, reassuring and natural process,” she told the ‘Meath Chronicle’.

Inventive ways to see your loved one off are not new, however. LifeGem treats ashes by applying immense pressure for six months, returning them to their natural carbonised state condensed to a small nugget – or ‘diamond’ as it’s commonly known. What’s not to like? Heavenly Stars will incorporate ashes into a firework and launch it into the air at a party. I couldn’t have resisted calling it ‘Out with a Bang’.

So, if an eco-friendly water-based solution works, why not? But does it mean priests are going to have to learn a new intonation? “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, water to water…”?

We should be told.

These boots were made for walking – to the tip

Mind you, if I’m going to die, I’m going out with my boots on. But not white ones. To collective horror, it seems white ankle boots are making a revival. Worse still, it appears to be extending the brief and tragic trend for cowboy boots and the combination is too far on the wrong side of 1980s ‘Dallas’.

There is absolutely no good way to wear either and both together should be a hanging offence. Like anybody else who is old enough to remember a fashion item from the first time round, we can only look back on photos of ourselves and wonder what we were thinking.

My white boots date to the early-80s worn with purple Sarsaparilla cords and Farrah Fawcett hair. It was not a stellar period for panache and was rightly consigned to the rubbish bin.

Nasa’s wardrobe issue a bum deal for ladies

Probably the most expensive item of clothing ever made is the Nasa-produced spacesuit for the astronauts on the International Space Station. Nevertheless, the space agency is the unlikely culprit in the ultimate wardrobe malfunction.

In selecting Anne McClain and Christina Kock for the first all-female space walk crew, Nasa failed to realise that it only had large and extra large spacesuits on board, which wouldn’t fit either woman.

It’s bad enough finding this out in Penneys when you’re shopping with your bestie, but how mortifying to shuffle your way into shoulder bearings, arms, gloves, pants, life support pack and helmet – which can take up to 12 hours – before realising your bum looks waaay too big in this.

Irish Independent


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