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The Funeral Director is a uniquely insightful and sensitive portrayal of work of the man responsible for the last ritual any of us will undergo – preparation for burial or cremation.

Told from the perspective of pioneering Sligo funeral director David McGowan, the documentary unflinchingly draws back the veil on an industry that is rarely spoken of.

With unprecedented access to the procedures, science and etiquette of the funeral director, we follow David as he shares his personal perspective on the sombre business he describes as his ‘passion’ – a dedication he was thrown into when his father bought a country pub which included an undertakers business in the 1970’s.

When he joined the family business, determined to offer the best possible service to his clients, David travelled to America, learning his trade at Chicago’s Cook County Morgue – one of the world’s busiest mortuaries.  In The Funeral Director, David recalls the daily workload of murder victims, unclaimed corpses and overdosed high school kids – a world far removed from the West of Ireland funeral parlours and wakes of his formative years. Since returning to Ireland in the 1980s, he continues to apply all the lessons he learned to a culture renowned for ‘grieving better than anyone else in the world’.

Somehow balancing family life with the 24/7 demands of his job, David still finds time for other interests. Determined not to be remembered as the ‘Grim Reaper’, he has a fascinating and well documented side project transforming giant vehicles into luxury ‘glamping’ accommodation, including a retired airliner a 767 which he transported by sea-barge to his site in Enniscrone, Co. Sligo. But even this has a connection to his day job.

David’s friend and client Dougie Hopkins is a former pilot and biker in the final stages of terminal cancer. We join the two friends as David makes preparations for Dougie to have his cremated remains buried in the roots of a live oak tree planted at the rear of the plane.

As David concludes his own story, he offers a revealing insight into his own bereavement with the passing of his friend Dougie – a deeply

spiritual man who does for the deceased what they did for themselves in life – dressing to impress and looking their best for that ‘big dance in the sky’.

Produced and directed by Gillian Marsh GmarshTV productions.

Edited by Gretta Ohle