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Shane MacGowan described as poet and trailblazer at his funeral


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Shane MacGowan has been described as a poet, lyricist, singer and trailblazer at his funeral ceremony in County Tipperary.

Hollywood star Johnny Depp and U2 frontman Bono were among those who participated in the service for The Pogues singer, who died last week at the age of 65.

Also in attendance at Saint Mary of the Rosary Church in Nenagh were Nick Cave, actor Aidan Gillen, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Irish president Michael D Higgins.

Earlier, mourners lined the streets of Dublin to say an emotional goodbye to MacGowan at a public procession through the Irish capital.

Hundreds gathered outside the Co Tipperary church on Friday afternoon as a host of stars arrived for the funeral.

Delivering the homily, Father Pat Gilbert said MacGowan had made Irish music cool around the world.

A mourner holds the order of service for the funeral of Shane MacGowan at Saint Mary’s of the Rosary Church, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary (Damien Eagers/PA)
A mourner holds the order of service for the funeral of Shane MacGowan at Saint Mary’s of the Rosary Church, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary (Damien Eagers/PA)

He added: “As teenagers, not being able to verbalise our uneasiness, displeasure, our uncomfortable assessment of what was happening all around us, we found an outlet, a channel, a conduit in the music and lyric of the day.

“In the words of Dickens, ‘It was the best of times and the worst of times’. But the music and the lyric were tremendous, and Shane was the master of them all.

“As Brendan Behan did in prose, Shane MacGowan did in poetry. The raw vibrant energetic earthy soul-filled expression gave us hope and heart and hankering.”

He added: “A poet, lyricist, singer, trailblazer, Shane reflected life as lived in our time, calling out accepted norms that oftentimes appear unacceptable.”

Johnny Depp arrives for the funeral of Shane MacGowan (Niall Carson/PA)
Johnny Depp arrives for the funeral of Shane MacGowan (Niall Carson/PA)

During the service, many of MacGowan’s best known songs were played, including a rendition of A Rainy Night In Soho by Cave.

Depp, who was best man at MacGowan’s wedding, read out one of the prayers of the faithful, while a recording of Bono delivering a reading was played.

Earlier in Dublin, MacGowan’s remains were carried in a glass horse-drawn carriage with his coffin adorned with an Irish tricolour flag and featuring a black-and-white photograph of the singer in his youth.

MacGowan’s widow Victoria Mary Clarke travelled in a car behind the cortege, which was led by the Artane Band.

The funeral procession of Shane MacGowan after crossing Mac Mahon Bridge in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
The funeral procession of Shane MacGowan after crossing Mac Mahon Bridge in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Members of the public threw flowers and musicians played A Pair Of Brown Eyes and Fairytale Of New York as the funeral procession passed Sweny’s pharmacy in central Dublin, which featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Among those who turned out to pay their respects was Aidan Grimes, 60, who described MacGowan as an icon.

He said: “I remember the first time I saw The Pogues in the Hammersmith Odeon in 1985. It is imprinted in my mind forever, just the madness and mayhem, the raucous nature of his singing and the music they were playing.

“Through the years he evolved into a great poet and he will be sadly missed.

“I met him in Dublin about 15 years ago and he was a very charming, nice, friendly man. He talked about music and his time in London.

“I thought it was important to pay my respects. He was an icon of Dublin, just like Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly. His music will be listened to in 100 years’ time.”

Aidan Grimes in Pearse Street waits for the funeral procession of Shane MacGowan to makes its way through the streets of Dublin (Liam McBurney/PA)
Aidan Grimes in Pearse Street waits for the funeral procession of Shane MacGowan to makes its way through the streets of Dublin (Liam McBurney/PA)

Josie Feeney, from Co Leitrim, travelled to Dublin to pay her respects.

She said: “My father’s family were from Tipperary, my grandmother was from Nenagh.

“We don’t always know all the lyrics but this week we know more of Shane’s lyrics, they are really very moving, they are poetry. He was a genius.

“His legacy will live on forever. Bruce Springsteen said in 100 years’ time we will be singing the words of his songs.”

Victoria Mary Clarke, right, Shane MacGowan’s wife, in the funeral procession (Liam McBurney/PA)
Victoria Mary Clarke, right, Shane MacGowan’s wife, in the funeral procession (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ms Clarke thanked the Irish police force for helping manage the crowd of fans in Dublin.

She wrote on Twitter: “Thank you so much @GardaTraffic for your help today and for the escort for @ShaneMacGowan.”

The funeral took place on what would have been Sinead O’Connor’s 57th birthday. The Irish singer, who was close friends with MacGowan, died earlier this year.

Following the funeral mass, the public will also have the opportunity to pay their respects as the funeral cortege moves through Nenagh town centre from Church Road to Market Cross.

A private cremation will follow.

MacGowan was born to Irish parents in 1957 in Pembury, Kent, and he soon moved to rural Tipperary where he was immersed in a culture of ceili bands and showbands.

The Pogues frontman died “peacefully” at 3am on November 30 with his wife and family by his side, a statement from his relatives said.

He was due to celebrate his 66th birthday on Christmas Day.

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