Weddings welcome in assembly rooms but no funerals, says Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council

Council cannot restrict numbers or guarantee silence appropriate for funerals in County Hall, officials say

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council welcomes weddings in its ornate assembly rooms. But not funerals.

Council officials recently told Green Party councillor Eva Dowling that funeral services cannot be accommodated because they are not invitation-only events and numbers generally cannot be restricted.

The council also said carrying a casket up the stairs to the assembly rooms – which are located on the first floor amid ornate wood panelling and vaulted ceilings – could be a health-and-safety issue.

Ms Dowling had proposed the council “agrees to facilitate the holding of funeral services in County Hall, and resolves to take such steps as necessary to ensure that services are facilitated in the same way that civil marriages have been”.


However, council officials responded that the capacity of the assembly room is limited to 100 people seated, or 150 people standing.

“Marriage ceremonies allow for control of numbers through invitations which doesn’t apply to funerals,” the council said.

“In the case of a funeral ceremony the council would have to control entry and turn people away once capacity has been reached.”

In its second reason, the council cited health and safety. As the assembly rooms are located on the first floor, “manual handling of a casket could only be facilitated via the stairs which, as an uneven surface, would be difficult for an experienced funeral party, even more so for family members who wish to carry the casket”, the council said.

Officials added that “funeral services are generally solemn ceremonies”. But as a workplace “the council cannot guarantee silence or an appropriate environment during normal working hours”.

Taking these issues into account the council officials added: “County Hall is not an appropriate venue for funerals.” Memorial services that do not involve a casket could be accommodated “in some exceptional cases”, however.

The assembly rooms are located in the old town hall section of the newer county buildings. The old town hall was built between 1878 and 1880 and is enrolled in the council’s register of listed structures. Extensive renovation works have been carried out, including restoration of floor tiling, wall panelling, balustrades, banisters and a stained-glass feature window.

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Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist