The story of Griffin’s Funerals began in 1860, when John Griffin set up the business on Church Street, in the former Whelan’s Posting Establishment building opposite King John’s Castle in Limerick City. From there, John started supplying horse-drawn hearses, carriages and coffins from the arched gateway entrance which is still evident on the street to this day.
In 1880, John Griffin moved the business to Lower Gerald Griffin Street, then known as Cornwallis Street, in the ‘new’ part of Limerick outside the city walls. In time, he was joined by his son John and later his two grandsons, Johnny and Dan, each of whom lived nearby.
Disaster struck the family in June 1914 when John (2nd), his wife Catherine, a housekeeper and two visitors perished in a fire that destroyed the Lower Gerald Griffin Street premises, which was also the family home. Newspaper reports from the time say that the blaze started in stables located at the back of the building, where 15 horses, 3 hearses and 12 carriages were kept. One of the most tragic aspects of the event was that the local brigade had initially put out the fire after it had started in a hay loft adjoining the horses’ stables. However, after the flames had been quenched, the animals relocated to alternate stables and the family had returned to bed, the fire reignited and spread to the main residence. All those inside perished, including John’s wife, Catherine Griffin, who died when she fell trying to escape through an upstairs window.
After the tragedy, the third generation of Griffins, Johnny and Danny, took over the family business. After it was rebuilt, Johnny and his wife Mainell moved back into the Gerald Griffin Street premises where they raised their family. In 1934, Johnny passed away and the business was run for several more years by Mainell and Danny, with the help of the fourth generation, Jack, Paddy, Bernie and Joe, the latter of whom took over the business in the late 1940s.
Sadly, Joe’s time at the helm of the business would be the shortest out of all the Griffins, as he contracted TB and died in 1956 at the age of 39, leaving behind his wife Ettie and their five children, all under the age of 8. However, with characteristic perseverance and the help of very good managers, Christy Howard and later Paddy Morrissey, Ettie kept the family business going strong while raising her young family. After finishing school in 1974 and spending a year gaining experience with O’Connor Funeral Directors in Cork, Ettie’s youngest son Gerry returned home to Lower Gerald Griffin Street and straight away set about building Limerick’s first funeral home. Originating in America, the concept became an Irish reality for the first time in Cork in the late 1960s, with Griffin’s premises opening in 1975, reflecting the passing of the torch from the fourth to the fifth generation of the family.
A significant change in Griffin’s long history occurred in May 2007, when an opportunity to expand and modernise came along. Planning permission was attained for a new state-of-the-art funeral premises in John’s Gate, Pennywell. This was just a street away from the site of the old Lower Gerald Griffin Street premises and still under the shadow of the mighty St. John’s Cathedral spire.
In 2008, Gerry’s eldest son John-Mark returned from Canada to fulfil Gerry’s dream of the sixth generation joining the family business, bringing new ideas and concepts to complement the established, old-style setting. Gerry’s son David returned some years later from Australia, bringing home some more work experiences and ideas. For several years now, the two generations have worked together to combine the best of traditional ways and new modern practices for the provision of a complete and better service to their community.
Today, the company is led by John-Mark, who together with Gerry and a very committed team, offers the highest standard of care and support to families at their time of bereavement.