Death Notices is the brainchild of Paul Brennan, who developed the concept after he missed an old school friend’s Funeral, having not heard about it until after the burial.

Death Notices Founder Paul Brennan

Paul recalls “In December of 2016 I found out that one of my old school friends had died and had been buried two weeks previously. I was shocked to hear it, but also annoyed that I missed the funeral because I would have gone if I had heard in time. One of the reasons I missed it was because nobody had told me and I wasn’t talking to anyone that knew him. If you couple this with the fact that if you want to hear if someone has died then you must visit a website such as rip.ie, or tune in to local radio station at 10am or buy a local or national newspaper”.

Paul soon realised that none of the traditional methods of notifying of a death used any form of social media, which struck him as unusual, given that as a platform, it offers an instantaneous way of sharing information and connecting people. As a result of this he set up a Facebook page called Death Notices Carlow. The crux of the idea being that if he posted all Carlow death notices to this page and people liked and followed the page, it would automatically provide them with notifications of every death in County Carlow on their newsfeed. Paul had conceived a very simple, but effective means of using Facebook as a tool to notify followers of a local death, allowing them to leave their condolences immediately. Conversely, followers not acquainted with the deceased can choose for the Notice to disappear from the newsfeed, without the need for any further interaction.

The page was a great success gathering a thousand followers in just one week. This spurned Paul to create a Facebook Page for every county in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. His problem was that he couldn’t do it all by himself so he enlisted the help of volunteers from all over the country. At one stage there were twenty volunteers posting deaths to all the counties.

But after a few months over half of the volunteers dropped off and it was at this point that Paul realised that in order for the service to be viable long term he would have to build a website that he could merge with Facebook so that deaths are posted automatically by the funeral directors. Paul told the remaining nine volunteers of his plans and together they went on to create Deathnotices.co

What make the Facebook success of Death Notices all the more remarkable is that the service has not been advertised, so all its 200,000+ followers have emerged organically through personal referrals and word-of-mouth.

Paul adds “Now that we are launching our website Deathnotices.co I am extremely positive for the future of the service as this will allow funeral directors to sign up and post the notices themselves.” He further adds “Throughout 2017 we have prevented tens of thousands of people from missing funerals throughout the country and the service has also created some added benefits for its followers. To the bereaved family it helps spread news of the death quicker as once a notice enters our network it will be seen by thousands within hours.The Irish abroad call our pages “A link with home” and we have had messages from all over the world from people letting us know how grateful they are for the service. Our followers appreciate the service as it prevents them missing funerals and allows them to leave a condolence if they can’t attend.”

Making a difference

Death Notices has also found that old friends are reconnecting under the death notice of a mutual friend. Testament to this is a beautiful message that Death Notices received from a 75 year old woman called Peg expressing her thanks for the service. Paul takes up the story “she told us that because of our page she learned of the death of her first love from many years ago in her home county. She told me they were to be married until he contracted TB and because of that and her parents disapproval she never saw him again. Anyway life moved on, but she never forgot him even though she is now a grandparent to ten. Learning of his death allowed her to travel to his funeral anonymously and shed a tear for him.”

Paul concludes “My vision for Deathnotices.co is to let the people of Ireland, both at home and abroad know about our great service, so that Peg and others can readily extend their support to the bereaved at their time of mourning while allowing those affected to focus on honoring the memory of their loved one”.