From a busy fine dining Irish bar in Washington DC, a marathon in Miami, death in Dublin to hustling in New York, Dubliner Jennifer Muldowney has been inspired every step of the way when creating her funeral business concept of Irish Memorial Keepsake Jewelry allowing the millions of Irish diaspora worldwide to find final rest in Ireland while their loved ones carry a part of them wherever they travel.
In 2003 Jennifer lived in Washington DC, opening and managing an extremely busy Irish Bar and fine dining Irish Restaurant. Sadly while in America, her Portlaoise native grandmother died suddenly. The morning of her funeral Jennifer ran her first ever marathon in Miami in her grandmother’s honor.
With her grandmothers name and the Irish flag emblazoned on her shirt for the run, Jennifer says she knew “she would have wanted me to do what I had worked so hard for. She was so proud of my achievements always. She was one of the hardest working independent women I’ve ever known. She was so strong and tough in adversity.”
No matter how far the Irish are from the Emerald Isle, the connection is strong, as Jennifer says “The day she died she was taken into hospital with panic attacks and she died 12 hours later. While running the marathon I ‘hit the wall’ at the 18th mile and suffered panic attacks – something I had never experienced to that day – I was trying to breathe, run and cry all at the same time! It was crazy but I know she was with me”
Like most Irish women of her time she graced Jennifer with a religious miraculous medal to keep her safe before she moved to America to set up the bar in 2003 and like most young experiencing loss and bereavement Jennifer wore it all the time as her way to keep her grandmother close “I still envisage her sitting on my shoulder shaking her finger when I’m up to no good” she laughs but recalls “I got a lot of negative attention from wearing the medal. I was 24 years old and called the Virgin Mary or an assumption that I was Religion obsessed – I had to explain that it was none of these reasons but my deceased grandmothers memorial. Sadly I stopped wearing it after a while.”
When Jennifer returned to Ireland the following year, she lost two dear friends to separate tragic circumstances and their family dog had to be ‘put to sleep’. All of these events spurred Jennifer to seek out information and when she couldn’t find what she sought she became a resource for others pursuing the same information. She wrote a book called “Say Farewell Your Way, A Funeral Planning guide for Ireland” and using her grief and experiences she built a business helping others to grieve called Farewell Celtic Ashes.
Farewell has a base in both Dublin and New York, offering memorial jewellery but it is more than just a business as she says “It has become an online community. The emails I receive from my clients about my jewelry often overwhelm me as they tell me how much it helps them in their grieving process and some of the emails are heartbreaking to read. It brings my losses up all over again but I guess I started the business because when we lose someone, we still want them with us every day and with the jewellery I can do that and it helps.”
The collection has started with a number of colourful jewellery pieces from pendants to charms made from cremated ashes fused with glass. The fusion of ash with the glass creates a beautiful cloudlike affect and it ensures that each piece will be entirely unique and individual to you and your loved one. You can add different colours or charms to make it even more personal to you and your loved one. Clients can also have some of their ash scattered on Irish soil also so a little but of them goes ‘back home’ to rest. Some clients choose to video their scattering or request specific locations. No request, says Jennifer, is ever too big, its about whats right for the individual.
Ireland is changing when it comes to loss and bereavement. There is a recognition of the grief people experience when a loved one dies where we never saw it before. There are helplines offering support and a listening ear, discussions about bereavement days at work. You can buy condolence cards, memorial jewelry. Funeral businesses are flourishing – pet cemeteries and crematoriums, green burial grounds, eco caskets, urns and keepsake jewellery. The Glam Reaper, aka Jennifer Muldowney is hoping to spread the Irish funeral ways worldwide with her endeavours and is doing so very successfully with a Tedx Talk and workshops at many of the top funeral exhibitions already under her belt.
Human/Irish – Farewell Celtic Ashes
Pets – Rainbow Bridge Memorials
Email – [email protected]
My business is a wholly Irish owned business that manufactures Irish memorials using glass. The business will conduct its business online and offline in Stores around the world.
What is it? Cremation Jewelry made with Borosilicate Glass. Cremated remains are fused or encased with the glass to create beautiful one of a kind memorials.
How does it work?
Customers order a piece of jewelry on our websites and we send them a Memorial Pack which includes a spoon, a small sealable, labeled plastic bag, a freepost envelope and an order form. They send us the ashes back with the order form in the envelope provided. Using the ashes we create a beautiful completely unique piece of glass jewelry. We also offer to scatter whatever ashes are left on Irish Soil and in some cases, where requested, we can video a short ceremony in a place of the clients choosing. A popular destination for this is the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Mayo.