Thomas Lynch

Thomas Lynch is a writer and funeral director. Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans came out last year.

Mostly I remember the quick pearlescent cloud, the puff of white it made in the rush of current, when I dumped Hughey’s ashes in the water. And watching what remained of him disappear downstream, I thought of the masked man riding off at the end of that cowboy show I watched as a boy: ‘A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver! The Lone...


Thomas Lynch, 3 October 1996

SWEENEY: Ah! Now the gallows trap has opened that drops the strongest to the ground!


Thomas Lynch, 21 March 1996

Death and the sun are not to be looked at in the face.

All Hallows Eve

Thomas Lynch, 8 February 1996

I wanted to know the day I would die. It seemed a useful bit of information for handicapping insurance policies, timing regrets, tendering farewells to former lovers. I wanted some precision in the calculation – if not the day, then possibly the age at which I’d cease to be, at least so far as those around me were concerned.’

The Right Hand of the Father

Thomas Lynch, 4 January 1996

I had an uneventful childhood. Added to my mother’s conviction that her children were precious was my father’s terrible wariness. He saw peril in everything, disaster was ever at hand. Some mayhem with our name on it lurked around the edges of our neighbourhood waiting for a lapse of parental oversight to spirit us away. In the most innocent of enterprises, he saw a danger. In every football game he saw the ruptured spleen, the death by drowning in every backyard pool, leukaemia in every bruise, broken necks on trampolines, the deadly pox or fever in every rash or bug bite.

Embalming Father

Thomas Lynch, 20 July 1995

The undertakers are over on the other island. They are there for what is called their Midwinter Conference: the name they give to the week in February every year when funeral directors from Michigan find some warm place in the Lesser Antilles to discuss the pressing issues of their trade. The names for the workshops and seminars are borderline: ‘The Future of Funeral Service’, ‘What Folks Want in a Casket’, ‘Coping with the Cremation Crowd’ – things like that. The resorts must have room service, hot tubs, good beaches and shopping on sight or nearby. No doubt it is the same for orthodontists and trial lawyers.’

The Undertaking

Thomas Lynch, 22 December 1994

Every year I bury one hundred and fifty of my townspeople. Another dozen or two I take to the crematory to be burned. I sell caskets, burial vaults, and urns for the ashes. I have a sideline in headstones and monuments. I do flowers on commission.

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