Music for "Guess Who's Dead" (RTE 2014)
Director - Gerry Hoban
Produced by Loosehorse
Presented by Ardal O'Hanlon
Ireland has an obsession with death notices: in the newspaper, on local radio, or online. It's a uniquely ingrained cultural hunger for the bare facts of a death - a social roadmap for our public grief and sympathy. The Death Notice is a unique symbol of Ireland's healthy attitude towards death (as long as it's someone else's).
"The deaths" are the first page any self-respecting Irish person turns to in the papers every day, driven by some innate DNA: the desire simply to know who has died. It's a habit, an instinct, a tradition handed down from generation to generation, and it is the opening line in any phone call from any Irish mother, "Guess who's dead".
Our hunger for death notices may be out of genuine concern for the death, or curiosity for the cause, as a diary planner for the removal or a social calendar for the funeral.
In this documentary, Ardal O'Hanlon (a politician's son, an occasional expatriate, and a fictitious priest), explores the changing life of the Irish Death Notice. He meets Alice Hughes, who transcribed the death notices for the Irish Independent, brother and sister business owners Dympna and Jay Coleman who set up rip.ie and Tipperary restaurateur, publican and undertaker Jasper Murphy. He shares a drink with writer Eoin Butler and drives Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley to his office.
Ardal listens to the people around the country who share an interest, indeed a passion, in keeping up with the death notices - whatever media it may be on.
Moving from local radio stations to national newspapers, and from rip.ie to the country's undertakers, Ardal's keen eye, inquisitive mind and razor sharp wit will get under the skin of a unique national obsession.