The site of the Shannon Crematorium earlier this year
THE FIRST crematorium in the west of Ireland is set to open in Shannon this weekend following a €2.4m development.
Shannon Crematorium will be a non-denominational facility which will cremate people of all faiths and religions or none, beside Illaunamanagh Cemetery in Shannon, Co Clare.
Built by entrepreneur and helicopter pilot Jim Cranwell, a total of €2.4m has been spent on the new facility at a 1.3-acre site, with two-thirds funded by investors who will see a 10% return on their investment.
Several hundred priests, 350 undertakers and 50 investors have been invited to attend a preview of the facilities, with several thousand people expected to attend a public open day this Sunday, May 28.
Mr Cranwell said the business is targeting an annual turnover of €1m within the next three years, and anticipates in the region of 500 cremations a year.
“The interest has been greater than we thought. Up to now the only other option for people has been to go to Dublin or Cork, and the only other crematorium in a rural location is in Cavan.
"In the west of Ireland, it can only grow, as Cork has had a monopoly for a long time, and we think the catchment area could stretch a lot further than the Mid-West given the available road networks," he said.
Mr Cranwell said their projected turnover is based on the population of the surrounding area, the national death rate and the available statistics in relation to the utilisation of cremation services in Ireland to date.
Multiple market indicators suggest there will be future growth in the cremation rate in Ireland. Ireland's cremation rate was 16.9% in 2015, up from 12% in 2010.
Mr Cranwell said that the market is still underdeveloped, pointing to Japan, where the cremation rate is 99%, and the UK, where the rate is 73%.
The growth in demand for cremation is evident in the development of a new crematorium in Dardistown in north Dublin, which has recently opened, and the proposed development at Shanganagh crematorium in south Dublin.
There will five crematoria catering for the Dublin region and the east coast, while Shannon Crematorium is the only facility in the West.
“It will offer an alternative to the people of the west of Ireland to travelling long distances to Dublin or Cork to avail of cremation services,” he added.
The crematorium has been part funded through an Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme placement which allows investors to qualify for income tax relief if they invest in the crematorium.
The crematorium will comprise of a congregation space which will seat 140 people and a secondary congregation space for smaller services which will seat 60 people.
It will have a capacity for eight cremations a day. Open seven days a week and employing three full-time staff, it will allow up to one hour for each service. The cost of a cremation is €750.
The public open day is this Sunday, May 28, and it will officially open on Tuesday, June 6.