'He was one of us': Irish fans say farewell to Shane MacGowan

‘The rockstar life was just a facade. He was one of us’: Irish fans lining the streets to say farewell to Shane MacGowan share their stories of the ‘God-fearing’ man who drank down the pub with everyone else

  •  Shane MacGowan is being laid to rest in Tipperary after a procession in Dublin

Fans of The Pogues star Shane MacGowan have lined the streets in Ireland to say their final goodbyes to the singer who they say drank with everyone else at the pub and was ‘one of us’. 

Mourners belted out his classic Christmas hit Fairytale of New York, raised a glass of Guinness and threw flowers as his funeral procession made its way through the capital.

MacGowan’s widow, Victoria Clarke, had wanted a celebration of her husband’s life and gave a thumbs up and smiled broadly as she saw the people of Dublin respond as she hoped. 

Many fans shared personal stories about their encounters with the singer, whose rockstar lifestyle they said was just a ‘facade’. 

His coffin is being taken to Tipperary for his mass at Saint Mary’s of the Rosary church after processing through the city of Dublin. 

Many mourners were visibly emotional as the funeral procession passed

A mourner holds up a pint of Guinness on Pearse Street as the funeral procession of Shane MacGowan made its way past 

Fans from across Ireland have travelled to Dublin to pay their respects. Pictured: John Farrell outside Shelbourne Park Stadium

Fans of the Pogues legend were desperate to see him as his funeral procession rolled through Dublin 

Hundreds of people have lined the streets to say farewell to Pogues star Shane MacGowan 

MacGowan died last week at the age of 65, following a battle with pneumonia.

He had been discharged from hospital over a week before after undergoing treatment for viral encephalitis, a condition in which swelling develops on the brain. 

Thousands of mourners have gathered in the streets of Dublin to pay their final farewell to Irish punk icon Shane MacGowan. 

Finlay Byrne, 63, said: ‘I once spent the night drinking with him. He was such amazing company.

‘He was really erudite. And a real man of literature. He just reeled off all the books that he was reading at that time.

‘He gave me the impression that the rockstar life was just a facade.

‘He was one of us. He was really shy and he was really God-fearing. I remember him kissing his crucifix and saying a wee prayer.’

Among those who turned out to pay respects was Marguerite Jennings, 54, who travelled from Galway. She said: ‘Shane was not only a pop star, he was also a top Irish poet. His work will never be forgotten.

‘And he was really down-to-earth. I bumped into him in a confectionery shop around 20 years ago in Carrickson-upon-Shannon and he was so friendly.

‘He was buying some cigarettes. But he turned round and spoke to everybody in the shop, including the children, and made us all laugh.

‘I’ll never forget his infectious laugh. I can hear it now. It’s no trouble at all for me to come to Dublin and pay my respects. He absolutely deserves it.’

Breda Lake (left) and Evan Wakefield with their son Sonny Wakefield attend the funeral procession of Shane MacGowan

‘A beautiful soul never forgotten’: Pogues fan Sheila O’Byrne was among those paying her respect to MacGowan today

Thousands of fans of all ages flocked to Dublin on Friday to pay their respects, many with handmade signs

Fans reached out to touch the carriage carrying MacGowan’s body as it processed through Dublin on Friday

Music from the Irish legend’s famous back catalogue played out as he passed through Dublin

Aidan Grimes, 60, also turned out to say farewell to MacGowan and said he was 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.

READ MORE: The story behind Fairytale Of New York: How an unlikely tale of drink, gambling, excess and abuse that Shane MacGowan worked on for two years became Britain’s favourite Christmas song ever

‘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.’

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.’

Other mourners paid tribute to MacGowan’s strong Irish identity, saying he ‘opened doors’ and embodied the culture of Ireland. 

Kevin Sexton, from Co Fermanagh, said: ‘He made Irish people proud to be Irish at a time in London when it was a very difficult time to be Irish.

‘The Troubles were in full tilt. A lot of terrible things happened.

‘Shane MacGowan opened doors. He introduced Irish culture and his own unique writing ability and voice and style that opened up a mix of Irish music plus rock plus punk, his whole unique persona transformed into song that enlightened the world.’

Darragh McColgan, from Dublin, added: ‘To me he was all about culture, the energy of it, it was representative to me of what being Irish is.

MacGowan’s smiling widow Victoria Mary Clarke gave a thumbs up and smiled broadly as the Pogue singer’s funeral got underway today

Mourners line the streets as the funeral procession of the late singer Shane MacGowan takes place on December 8

Large pictures of a young MacGowan were displayed on the side of the carriage

It came days after MacGowan returned home after being released from hospital amid a battle with a brain condition, with his wife Victoria sharing a photo of him in his hospital bed 

‘It will be a day we knew was coming but it won’t be easy to deal with because of what a big impact he was.’

Retired care worker Shiela O’Byrne, 67, held flowers and a sign saying: ‘A beautiful soul never forgotten.’

She said: ‘The rain has been falling like tears. But we are not crying today.

‘We are smiling because we had 65 years of Shane and his wonderful music and his wonderful smile. Each time I saw him he just made me smile too.’

Local café owner Joanne Moran said: ‘Shane was an international figure, but Dublin was his home and you would see him walking around just like everybody else.

‘It is a sad day and we have to show our love for Victoria and his family. They are part of the community and we feel so much sympathy for them.’

Pogues fan Brenda Murphy, 38, waved a poster of Shane and said: ‘He was such a gentle soul. He would always say hello and smile despite the fact that he was poorly.

‘I had heard some amazing stories about him drinking in pubs around here and playing in The Ship pub with The Dubliners.

‘He had had his drinking problems and people would see him with what looked like a pint of water, but it was neat vodka.

‘But he wasn’t like that in terms of the hell-raising rock star. Shane was a deeply religious man and a good man who loved his wife and who loved Ireland.

‘It has been a terrible year with losing Sinead O’Connor a few months back and now Shane. It is fitting that today would have been Sinead’s birthday and Shane is joining her in heaven in the Lord’s arms.’

The singer requested private prayers with his family and then a public mass a private cremation. His ashes will scattered on the Shannon which inspired his song ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon.’

Shane, who was 65, died from pneumonia last week, after being wheelchair bound and in poor health for years.

A wake will be held in Mr Ryan’s pub once the service has concluded.

Dublin’s pubs are also expected to be busy raising glasses to the Pogues star.

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