Belfast Telegraph

Start-up selling 'pure Irish soil' to US funeral market

By Dearbhail McDonald

A startup that sells canisters of "pure Irish soil" has secured its first major sales in the United States, targeting the lucrative funeral home market there.

Original Irish Dirt Ltd has shipped its first container of ceremonial canisters to the United States, after securing its first funding round late last year.

Founder Aifric O'Byrne said the company is targeting more than 30 million Irish Americans in the US as the funeral industry there pivots towards "personalisation" in the end-of-life market.

The company, which has secured a US nationwide distributor, says it has secured deals with funeral homes in Boston, New York and Pennsylvania as it targets the diaspora there.

The canisters retail at €79.99 (£69.99) for funeral homes who buy in bulk. Families can also order the 2lb 'Handful of Home' canisters online for €129.99 (£114). Original Irish Dirt is also targeting the corporate gift market with customised products of 'Irish luck' as well as dedicated 'St Patrick's Day' products and the floral industry.

Ms O'Byrne, who is considering fresh fundraising rounds as the company targets markets other than the US, said she was inspired to set up Original Irish Dirt after her own family members emigrated to the US.

"This is the only way they can bury loved ones in the US surrounded with the earth of Ireland as the movement of earth across borders, in particular from Ireland into the United States is highly regulated," said Ms O'Byrne, a former barrister who became an entrepreneur after conducting legal advisory work for startups across Europe.

"We're honouring the heritage of the deceased," said Ms O'Byrne, who moved into private practice after a longstanding career at the Irish bar.

"We decided it was time to do something back to roots, to do something tangible, something that you could hold in your hands."

Belfast Telegraph