The use of funeral and burial cards (not to be confused with Catholic prayer cards) was de rigueur during the Victorian era in Britain and its Empire and North America.
These charming mementoes from another era served the dual purpose of an invitation to a funeral and a remembrance of loved ones passed.
Available in numerous formats ranging from the severely plain to the highly ornate, size was generally carte-de-visite and occasionally cabinet. This collection was gathered by Faye Logue whilst visiting family and friends during several trips to North Tyrone. Alerted that considerable numbers of cards had been destroyed or lost as old houses were demolished, she expressed an interest in rescuing them, hence this collection.
Whilst visiting an elderly relation who was raised on the Stanylane, in the townland of Killynaght, Leckpatrick parish, I recalled Faye’s success in collecting numerous cards. Oh, those old cards, she laughed and recalled that as a young girl in the 1920s, funeral cards were still very much in vogue.
Upon the death of a family member, a school aged male within the family was taken out of classes for the day (older sons and daughters were required on the farm) and despatched to Blair’s the printers and stationers in Strabane, with an order for funeral cards containing the name of the deceased, appointed time of the funeral and location of the graveyard. Accuracy was paramount. To do this he would start walking the four miles from the Stanylane into Strabane hoping to cadge a lift on a cart as there were no cars on local roads in those days. Making his way to Blair’s on Main Street, he would place the order and wait while the cards were printed before returning home in the same manner.
Reaching home, the cards were distributed amongst the family who would walk and cycle the district calling upon relatives, neighbours and friends advising of the passing of the deceased and inviting them to the funeral and the refreshments that followed. It was customary practice to collect the threepences and sixpences of invitees as a contribution to the funeral expenses, for as my elderly relative recalled, even Presbyterian farmers were not wealthy men in those days.
Of real value to genealogists, the location of the family burial place is stated on these charming relics of Victoriana, a fact that is not recorded on Irish death certificates.
Although many cards have been lost, the fact that these interesting examples survived in tea caddies and biscuit barrels bears testimony to the memories of deceased family, loved friends and respected neighbours. Genealogists with Leckpatrick origins have Faye Logue to thank for her endeavours and successes in gathering these interesting relics.
There are three separate pages detailing these cards: -