Crowds line Dublin streets to cheer, sing and bid farewell to ‘huge legend’ Shane MacGowan

As Pogues singer’s cortege passed Westland Row only the slow beat of a drum and the lament of an uilleann piper could be heard before the applause began

Dublin came to a standstill as Shane MacGowan’s horse-drawn hearse made its way into the city centre, followed by a huge throng of mourners.

The procession was a prelude to the funeral in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, attended by Johnny Depp, Nick Cave, Bob Geldof and President Michael D Higgins, which will be followed on Saturday by cremation and a scattering of ashes into the river that inspired MacGowan’s The Broad Majestic Shannon, about an exile’s yearning for home.

Shane’s final journey began just after 11am when his hearse arrived at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium in Ringsend, close to where Shane and his partner Victoria Mary Clarke lived.

From there, his remains were transferred to a horse-drawn carriage, draped with a large tricolour flag.


As the procession made its way through Dublin, and passed along South Lotts Road, there were cheers and songs from the crowd.

Gathering with friends on the street, John Farrell from Tallaght said he was out to pay his respects to a musician who “lived life to the full”.

“I liked his music, his voice, his own identity. He lived life to the full, that’s the way people should live their life,” he said.

Mr Farrell said he was a “huge fan” of MacGowan and first saw him perform live in 1996 in the Olympia in Dublin. He then saw him perform every time he played in Dublin since.

People climbed to stand up on window ledges dancing and clapping along as the crowd sang more of MacGowan’s music.

Mother and son James and Maria Coogan shared a hug as Maria had “a lump in my throat the size of an apple after the whole morning”.

“I missed Sinéad O’Connor’s funeral and was gutted so I was determined to make it to this. We’re big fans,” Maria said.

“Mam introduced me to The Pogues from a very young age and they’ve been a staple for me, so it’s a very emotional day,” James said.

“It’s important to say goodbye to a huge legend,” said Sean O’Donnell, holding a tricolour flag, as thousands gathered. “We’ll still be listening to these songs a hundred years from now.”

There was a hushed quiet on Westland Row as the cortege passed, the only sounds the slow, intimate beat of a single drum, the lament of an uilleann piper sitting by the coachman and then applause from the crowd.

Outside the Royal Irish Academy of Music near the top of the street, the black-plumed horses came to a halt. The Artane Band played two of MacGowan’s best-loved tunes, Fairytale of New York and Rainy Night in Soho. People sang along, some throwing flowers over the hearse.

Mourners came forward to sympathise with Victoria Mary Clarke, MacGowan’s widow, when she rolled down the limousine window. There were tears and there was laughter, phone screens recording the event and people watching from the upper floors of the buildings nearby.

There was more applause and cheers as the cortege moved on again, turning left on to Fenian Street passing Sweny’s historic pharmacy. On Denzille Lane nearby, MacGowan’s coffin was transferred to a motor hearse for the final drive to his funeral mass in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

At that moment a band formed a circle in the crowd, people lurching forward to hear A Pair of Brown Eyes, The Leaving of Liverpool and The Rare Old Mountain Dew.

This tribute from the members of The Rising Sons prompted an impromptu singalong for MacGowan. Seán Butler and Declan Parsons played guitar, David Browne the tin whistle, Jimmy Morrison the banjo and harmonica and Eddie Kane the banjo.

They played Ewan MacColl’s Dirty Old Town and finished up with Fairytale of New York, the crowd singing every single word. At noon on a damp Friday in the middle of Dublin, it was a gentle moment of love and devotion.

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Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times