The Strange Burial of Mary Folan

In 1967, Mary Folan died of cancer at the young age of 56. Though she had moved to the U.S. during the 1920s, one of her last wishes was to be buried on her native island off the coast of Galway, Ireland. Rather than risk a water voyage, the family decided to transport her coffin by helicopter. However, when the helicopter picked Mary up from the Shannon Airport, the sling that transported her coffin wasn’t secured properly. They had only flown a few feet when one end of the sling opened and dumped Mary’s coffin into a nearby field. Her remains were transferred into a lighter coffin, and the helicopter ran a successful test with a box carrying a similar amount of weight. All went well with the test, but when they tried to transport Mary again, the sling failed again — and this time the coffin fell into the sea. It floated, but eventually they lost sight of it. After days of looking, Mary Folan’s family accepted the fact that they had essentially given Mary a burial at sea.