August 18, 2010


Dead funny?

Sapanţa's vivid headstones celebrate life rather than death

A graveyard may not strike many as the most appropriate place for a concert, but Romania's famous Merry Cemetery is no ordinary burial ground. The richly decorated graves with their humorous epitaphs served as both the inspiration and the backdrop for the first Romanian-Irish music festival.
Every year thousands of tourists make their way to the small village of Sapanţa near Romania's border with Ukraine to visit the unusual graveyard there - where hundreds of brightly coloured crosses celebrate the lives of the villagers in hand-painted pictures and amusing epitaphs.
"It is celebrating the peoples’ lives; you aren’t celebrating their deaths."
Euranet's Daniel Bilt reports from the Irish-Romanian music festival in Sapanţa's Merry Cemetery....
Last weekend a group of Romanian and Irish musicians also travelled their own "Long Road to the Merry Cemetery", culminating in a live performance of composer Shaun Davey's piece "Voices from the Merry Cemetery of Sapanţa" among the gravestones.
The work, which featured 160 musicians from both countries, is a musical setting of twelve of the moving yet ironic epitaphs from the famous churchyard.
Stretching over four days, the festival also included performances of traditional music and dance from Romania and Ireland, as well as craft workshops, all going to show the two countries culturally have a lot more in common than just Irish writer Bram Stoker's celebrated gothic horror character, Count Dracula.