Writing an Epitaph?

For far too long Irish headstones have gone with just a name and dates of birth and death, nothing exciting or informative about the deceased. Would this be the way you would like to be remembered or would you prefer to add a few words to sum up your life. It is a very difficult but yet important decision as once you decide - you won't be around to change it! Do you want a reference from the bible, a movie quote, a poem or just a general statement on life.  It may be a symbol or reminder of our mortality or indeed immortality. 


This is a very personal choice, one that should not be influenced by others. Here is a bit of advice on choosing an epitaph:


  • 1) "Less is more" - epitaphs are usually short and concise. Even if you use the whole reverse of a headstone, you will be limited to a few lines. They are a chance to sum up your life in just a few words, to give it shape and express real emotion.


  • 2) Epitaphs often convey a strong feeling. However, the best epitaphs are timeless and not overly sentimental, and for this reason we would always advise families waiting at least a year before choosing so that emotions have time to settle and they don't later regret their choice.


  • 3) Often, someone is speaking in the first person (a relative, a friend; the deceased). You might want to think about whose voice you want this to be.


  • 4) Consider whether you want the epitaphs to speak directly to someone. This may be a passerby or the loved one themselves.


Epitaphs are also great to showcase your humour and care free approach to life ( and death ) but above all  its a great way to be remembered.  Here is 5 of our all time favourite epitaphs

( feel free to send us some you may have come across yourself  ) 



Spike Milligan

"Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite." ( Translates to - I told you i was ill ) 


 His gravestone, which lies at St Thomas Church in Winchelsea, East Sussex, stood bare for some time while his family argued over which phrase best would encapsulate the comedian's career. When they finally came to an agreement, the church insisted that the phrase be written in Gaelic.






George Johnson

"Here lies George Johnson, hanged by mistake 1882. He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he's gone."


Johnson bought a stolen horse in good faith but the court didn't buy his story and sentenced him to hang. They realised their mistake, but by then it was too late for Johnson. His final resting place is Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, which is also "home" to many notorious characters of the Wild West, including Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers, who died during the gunfight at

the O.K. Corral.




Hank Williams

"I'll never get out of this world alive."


Williams was just 29 years old when he died on a way to a performance. His gravestone in Montgomery is inscribed with several of his song titles, including this one, which shot straight to number one after his death.




Mel Blanc 

"That's all folks!"


Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Woody Woodpecker, and Sylvester the Cat - All voiced by Blanc and was he who gave Bugs Bunny his catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?" And viewers always knew they'd reached the end of the cartoon when they heard his Porky Pig say, "That's all folks!" 




Leslie Neilson

"Let er rip."


The 'Don't call me shirley'  actor is one of our all time favourite and starred in a number brilliant and memorable comedies during his life. Nielsen passed away in November 2010 at the age of 84 and in a final fitting tribute to his love of fart jokes the comic requested that, ‘Let ‘er rip’ was inscribed on his gravestone. Brilliant.






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