IrelandShane MacGowan 1957 - 2023

Shane MacGowan funeral: Nick Cave and Johnny Depp play roles in star-studded service in Nenagh

Funeral featuring some of The Pogues’ greatest hits concludes with The Parting Glass as thousands line streets for singer who died aged 65


The funeral of Shane MacGowan has taken place at St Mary’s of the Rosary Church in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

Along with the singer’s family and friends, President Michael D Higgins attended with well-known faces from the world of music and entertainment, including actor Johnny Depp.

Singer Nick Cave gave a poignant rendition of A Rainy Night in Soho in a near three-hour funeral featuring a selection of MacGowan’s greatest hits. MacGowan, who found fame as the frontman of London-Irish punk/folk band The Pogues, died at the age of 65 last week.

Earlier, thousands of people gathered in Dublin for a funeral procession which began in Ringsend around 11am and made its way through various streets of the capital until just after midday. The hearse carrying his remains then travelled to Co Tipperary.

Here some of the best reads published since his death:


So that is the final farewell to The Pogues legend Shane MacGowan. As Irish funerals go, at close to three hours in duration, this will go down in much the same terms as his life, an epic.

Between the public cortege through Dublin and Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and later via live web streams, it reached countless thousands of people, as his life and music had.

There was a stellar list of mourners and contributors in song, prayer and tribute – President Michael D Higgins, Johnny Depp, Bono (by recording), Nick Cave, Imelda May, Gerry Adams, Aidan Gillen, Glen Hansard, Lisa O’Neill, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Declan O’Rourke and others.

His sister Siobhán spoke eloquently of their childhood and of how her brother had been precocious, his love of literature, shared with his father, and of how Ireland, and particularly Co Tipperary, had become his spiritual home.

Spider from The Pogues touched his coffin as he walked past after a rendition of The Parting Glass.

But his wife Victoria Mary Clarke spoke at length, describing virtually every aspect of the late singer’s character and makeup.

In her eulogy, she explained his spirituality, his care for the poor and disadvantaged, his creativity, often influenced by various substances. At times she spoke candidly about his indulgences and their effects – how he had once carried an encyclopedia of pharmacology to learn them.

“His physical body lasted a very long time considering what he did to it,” she said, perhaps verbalising what many had long thought.

“Music could take us places that were so heavenly that it was like God. I think music in a way was like God to Shane.”

And in describing his deep religious sensibilities, of all creeds, there were lighter moments too.

He prayed constantly but was the “only man ever busted” by a priest for taking holy communion on a daily basis, she recalled fondly.

“Ultimately God is compassion and God is forgiveness. So Shane, although in the early days when I first met him he was a little bit slow to forgive the Brits, he kind of came around to it. And he started to really, really, really forgive everybody, everything immediately,” she said.

Then with a potentially awkward nod to the actor Johnny Depp, she offered another anecdote of forgiveness.

“I hope you don’t mind me saying this Johnny but when Johnny had a court case involving his ex-wife Amber [Heard] and Shane had a long conversation with you, didn’t he, and urged you to forgive Amber. He just thought it was the best thing to do,” she said.

“And I’m sure you have by now haven’t you? Of course you have.” There was muffled laughter.

But the service was full of laughter, along with tears and applause and fond memories of a national treature. As his coffin was carried out into the Nenagh evening, there as an ovation and a sense of celebration, a life well remembered and then some.



The congregation stands now as the organ blasts into life and the wicker coffin is carried down the aisle. The church explodes into a round of applause.


A nice moment as Spider touches the coffin on his way past. “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven,” joked Fr Gilbert, in tribute to Shane MacGowan’s band. One could be forgiven for forgetting this has taken place in a church; a standing ovation at the back of the pews meets the end of the song. This funeral has lasted well over two hours – part religious ceremony, part tribute, part concert.


And now, more fittingly than anything, a rendition of The Parting Glass, a song The Pogues were known for.


Shane did something for people with addictions. “There wasn’t a single drug he didn’t take,” she said, but pointed to his achievements.

“Next time you see someone who you think that guy is just an alcoholic, stop and give thought to it,” she said, offer some compassion. On that fitting message, she walked from the altar to applause.


Victoria said she felt like she had won the lottery when she fell in love with Shane, and needed nothing else in life.

“We used to say, ‘I’m so glad to see you’ and we would say that even though we had been in the same room together,” she said.

“I haven’t met anyone else who had that connection. It would be greedy really to want more than we got.”

While devastated, she explained, it was possible to feel her heart had grown as a result of their relationship.


“His mind was just capable of going places the normal minds weren’t,” she said, but added how he had sacrificed a lot in order to do that. On the religious end of things, she said, Shane liked to go “to the more blissful, transcendent and spiritual places and he could go there with music”.

He prayed every day and gave thanks for his life, she said. “He also prayed for people, all kinds of people.”

“It was just very beautiful, his devotion . . . but it was also very radical. In a sense he reinvented Irish music and made it a very different thing but he also reinvented religion,” she said, explaining that he embraced a broad range of religious belief. He was well read in the religious texts, loving and respecting all of them, and he distilled their essence into love.

“He believed that God was love.”

“When I first met him, he was very much a humanitarian and a socialist and he loved people,” she said, although he was capable of being cantankerous, sometimes hostile.

“For so many people he was so full of love and I’m feeling so much love now from him [that] I don’t think love can go away,” she said to applause.


She said he was an explorer, at the “boundaries of what you can do while still in a physical body”.


It was hard to get Shane to go to a funeral, she said, he did not like to think about death. When they were together, people would tell her he would die in six months because of his drinking. “It took all of us by surprise” when he died, they had believed he would come home. “But even though he didn’t like the idea of death he was what I call a cosmonaut . . . the kind of person who wasn’t really that interesting in living a normal life,” she said.

He liked to explore all areas of his consciousness, a journey of exploration. “We have kind of lived in terror haven’t we, for a very long time,” she said, but his exploration led to a kind of creativity “which may not have been possible without the use of all these substances”.


Victoria Mary Clarke, his wife, is now addressing the congregation.


She recalls the formation of The Pogues in 1982 and their early gigs. How the band came to the attention of a record company and released their first album. How they supported Elvis Costello and she remembered the crowd calling out Shane’s name. “And so the journey began,” she said. In January 2018 at his 60th birthday, Shane received an outstanding lifetime achievement award from Michael D Higgins. “And he cried. He probably cried because our beloved mother who had died just one year before was not there to see this moment, although we both knew she probably was,” she said. But, also, receiving the award from the President of Ireland “meant more than any other”. It was the culmination of his dreams. “So Shane,” his sister said, “you did what you dreamed”.


Siobhán remembered how her brother would study his music magazines, his “bibles”. When punk broke, it was a transformative time in his life and, in a flash, his hippy sensibility was gone. His long hair “hacked off” and bleached white. She explains the musical transformation of the man who would go on to blend punk and Irish music.


“Shane absorbed the musical mayhem of this place,” she said. It was, the greatest influence of his life.


She has talked about how Shane and their father read literature together and there were early warning signs of how precocious he was. How he once observed his sister was a “surrealist”, when looking at her childhood pictures. She shares childhood memories – eating rice crispy cakes and watching Doctor Who. How they ran in Batman and Robin suits (”no surprises for guessing who was Batman”). The sing-songs, when Shane won the Daily Mail literary prize. His love of literature and music. How his veins ran with Irish blood and how he reunited with the land he loved, his “spiritual home” in Co Tipperary.


There are some nice stories of those who came to be with him. And Siobhán thanked his carers at the hospital. Shane “held court” there, issuing orders from his hospital bed, including for copious amounts of tea. The staff ensured his comfort, allowing them to share laughter until the end.


At the beginning of her eulogy, Shane’s sister Siobhán noted how he would have enjoyed that Fairytale rendition. She also acknowledged the attendance of President Michael D Higgins. She has thanked those who took part today, and Glen Hansard for organising the performers. Finbar Furey “snuck in”, she joked, a big hero of Shane’s.

Shane spent the last six months of his life in hospital, she said, but there was barely a dull moment. He rarely spent a moment alone.


A huge number of singers and musicians, even dancers, took part in that song, a lively, celebratory end to the service.


Incidentally, there are nearly 6,000 people now watching the live stream on X/Twitter.


The long lines of congregants have finished receiving communion, against an ongoing backdrop of soothing music. And now they have broken into a giant rendition of Fairytale of New York led by Glen Hansard. You’d have to imagine if this is the finale, there could be no better one for the legions of fans turning in at Christmas.




It’s hard to know who is in that church today, as luminaries and locals gather to say their farewell. But so far, at least, we have had songs, tributes or prayers from Nick Cave, Johnny Depp, Imelda May, Aidan Gillen, Bono (remotely of course), Liam Ó Maonlaí, Declan O’Rourke and President Higgins. A fitting tribute in itself.


Fr Gilbert, continuing his homily, said:

“A poet, lyricist, singer, trailblazer, Shane reflected life as lived in our time, calling out accepted norms that oftentimes appear unacceptable. But, in order to speak, to be heard, and to have that revolutionary edge to life, the first step is to listen. And Shane was a great listener, obviously.

“. . . the poet, the lyricist, singer and trailblazer, gave successive generations the benefit of his listening to the disquiet of life. Shane spoke and sang from the listened depths of his own journey and so did as poets, lyricists and trailblazers do - he spoke to life’s realities for the many who had been numbered as his fans. Life giving words.”


“I know that you all will miss Shane terribly. A voice, a presence around you and with you, is suddenly silent – and coping with that loss is always difficult. But in that grief, you are supported by the friendship and concerns of other people, and you are supported too by what our Christian faith tells us about death and what it means.

“For Shane had great faith in Our Blessed Lady and received Holy Communion from this church regularly. A man who often knelt before a fellow human being on the side of the road and offered kindness, assistance and care. “Born on the birthday of Jesus and passing on the same days as Oscar Wilde and Patrick Kavanagh, and his funeral celebration Mass today on this great Feast of Mary and of course it’s also Sinéad [O’Connor’s] birthday, and something seems right about this.”


“Our modern-day bard, the social commentator, the songsmith, the son, the brother, husband and friend: I know that he adored you Victoria and you him, and you were so loving, supportive and kind throughout your lives together. You carried and cared and caressed him right to the very end. And I am also aware of the strong bonds of love and affection that knit you together as a family Maurice, Siobhán and Anthony.”


“As Brendan Behan did in prose, Shane MacGowan did in poetry,” Fr Gilbert said.

“The raw vibrant energetic earthy soul-filled expression gave us hope and heart and hankering. “What Seán Ó Riada expressed in the life of liturgy, Shane MacGowan expressed in the raw life of living. He connected the cultural, the sociological, the spiritual, the physical and the metaphysical into a coherent translation of what was happening all around us.”


Fr Pat Gilbert, co-parish priest of Nenagh is now delivering the homily.

“I grew up listening to the music of Lizzy, Horslips, The Rats, The Undertones and The Pogues (loud applause). As teenagers the music and the lyrics alerted us to what was happening around us.

“There was also the pride of being Irish, what they could say, sing and share was right and reasoned as far as we were concerned. In fact, Shane and The Pogues made it international and cool to play the tin whistle, banjo or accordion.

“. . . 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.’ The music and the lyric were tremendous, and Shane was the master of them all.” More applause.


Bono is not among those in attendance but he is giving a recorded reading.


Certainly one of the performances of the evening, a truly great rendition of one of MacGowan’s more famous tunes.


Another musical tribute now with a rendition of A Rainy Night in Soho by the one and only Nick Cave. Before that there was a rendition of The Pogues’ Haunted. Shane MacGowan’s last great session? It will do him proud.


Johnny Depp’s record is brought forward - Shane loved his music and the “guitar noises”, we hear.

Victoria notes that almost everyone who was at their 2018 wedding is in attendance. And now the famous Casio keyboard on which Shane penned Summer in Siam. There is a bodhran too, which we hear Shane was unhappy about having to give up playing.


Symbols marking film and Shannon Rovers. There is JP Donleavy’s Ireland, Shane being “very much into literature”, which is no surprise to anyone. Finnegan’s Wake is also brought forward. Flann O’Brien is added, and then, less high brow, a packet of tea.


Victoria Mary Clarke is explaining the various symbols at the altar; the first being obvious as it is a Pogues’ record, of course. The next is Led Zeppelin which he listened to a lot. A Tipperary flag, also “quite obvious”, she says to ringing applause. Also a hurley and a book of Shane’s art and lyrics. And there is a Budda because Shane was a lover of all religions, she says, particularly Buddhism. An interesting turn events in this Catholic ceremony.


Imelda May is now leading a song tribute from the altar in what is, unsurprisingly, a star-studded affair.


The former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is addressing the congregation, marking many of his attributes in life. “Your music will live forever, you are the measurer of our dreams,” he says to applause.


The funeral Mass is now well under way with more than 3,000 tuned into the Twitter/X live stream.

The upcoming homily will note that MacGowan, born on Christmas Day and passing on the same day as Oscar Wilde and Patrick Kavanagh, his funeral Mass falls on the great Feast of Mary and the late Sinéad O’Connor’s birthday.

Fr Pat Gilbert, co-parish priest of Nenagh in the Diocese of Killaloe, will tell the congregation that Shane and the Pogues made the tin whistle, banjo or accordion “international and cool”.

“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,” he will say.

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

Referring to him as our modern-day bard, social commentator and songsmith, Fr Gilbert will tell his wife Victoria “you were so loving, supportive and kind throughout your lives together. You carried and cared and caressed him right to the very end”.


Music from The Pogues was piped in the town of Nenagh, Co Tipperary, ahead of the funeral of Shane MacGowan.

People were flocking into the St Mary’s of the Rosary Church for at least an hour before the service was due to begin. – PA


A handmade sign with “thanks for all the fairytales Shane” was placed on the side of the road on the way into Nenagh, Co Tipperary, where Shane MacGowan’s funeral is due to take place later on Friday afternoon.

“RIP Shane” was written on the side of a haybale further along the road. – PA


A gentle moment of love and devotion

Arthur Beesley writes:

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.

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 everywhere 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 Auld Mountain Dew.

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

They played Ewan McColl’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.


MacGowan’s public funeral Mass, which will be livestreamed, will take place at St Mary’s of the Rosary Church in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, at 3.30pm.

President Michael D Higgins is expected to attend alongside well-known faces from the world of music.

Father Pat Gilbert told RTÉ the funeral would celebrate the spiritual side of MacGowan.

He said: “It’s a side of him that’s not known but it’s a side of him we must celebrate. It’s a side that was important to him in the context of his living of his life.

“We will have the rite of reception, we’ll have Mass and we’ll have the rite of final accommodation interspersed with pieces of his music which will be performed by some of his friends.

“I think that’s the right thing to do, that’s the way to celebrate the man, the faith, the music and the lyric. It’s the way to celebrate and remember the husband, the brother, the son and the brother-in-law.”

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 due to celebrate his 66th birthday on Christmas Day. – PA


Some more images from the funeral procession:

Kevin Sexton, from Co Fermanagh, said MacGowan opened doors for Irish people living in England.

“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.” – PA



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

As the procession came to a close, 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.


Mourners, many holding photographs of Shane MacGowan, are singing Dirty Old Town following his funeral procession through the streets of Dublin.

A large crowd has gathered outside Sweny’s Pharmacy to pay tribute to the singer-songwriter. Musicians are leading the public in a rendition of Fairytale of New York outside Sweny’s. – PA


The Artane Band in the funeral procession played Fairytale of New York in tribute to The Pogues frontman.



There were cheers from the crowd as the horse-drawn carriage, with a large Tricolour draped across the back, left South Lotts Road for the procession.

Many following the cortege were wearing band T-shirts and speaking among friends about memories of gigs that MacGowan had played.

Fifteen Dublin Bus staff in orange high-vis jackets stood in a line outside the Dublin Bus garage in Ringsend to pay their respects as the funeral procession passed by the building.

St Andrew’s Resource Centre placed a speaker outside their building, playing Fairytale of New York, as the crowd walked past clapping along to the song.


Hundreds gathered along South Lotts Road to await the arrival of MacGowan’s hearse.

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,” Farrell said.

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.

“It was brilliant, it was mental. Real rowdy fans, great craic. As soon as he walked on stage the place went mental, beer flying all over the place. He was a great bloke, he’s going to be sadly missed.”


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.”

Josie Feeney from Co Leitrim travelled to Dublin to pay her respects at the public procession to remember the singer.

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.” – PA


Photographs of crowds gathering in Dublin for Shane MacGowan’s funeral cortege:


Here is a full breakdown on the route of Shane MacGowan’s funeral cortege which passes through Dublin today:

The late singer’s coffin is scheduled to arrive by hearse at Ringsend at 10.30am and once there it will be transferred to a horse-drawn carriage.

At 11am, the carriage is due to be led the Artane Band and a lone piper along South Lotts Road, over MacMahon Bridge and Grand Canal Dock, and along Pearse Street. It will be followed by the chief mourners, led by the singer’s widow, Victoria Mary Clarke, in a procession of cars.

At the junction of Lombard Street East and Westland Row the procession will turn left on to Westland Row and Lincoln Place, turning into Fenian Street and then Denzille Lane where the coffin will be privately transferred back to the hearse. The procession, which will include a nod to Sweny’s Pharmacy, is expected to conclude at about 11.45am.

The Garda has asked that people wishing to pay their final respects to MacGowan gather on the footpath along this route.

The hearse and family cars will then leave Dublin for Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

The funeral Mass is to be held at 3.30pm in St Mary of the Rosary Church, Nenagh, close to the homeplace of MacGowan’s mother, Therese, and where he spent some time as a child. MacGowan’s father, Maurice, still lives in the area while his sister Siobhán lives in nearby Dromineer on Lough Derg.

It is expected to be overseen by the Garda with some road closures and traffic held at junctions during the procession.

After the funeral, members of the public will have an opportunity to pay their respects as the cortege moves through the town centre from Church Road to Market Cross.

Gardaí said a traffic management plan would be in place for Nenagh Town for the duration of the funeral, listing the following restrictions:

  • Church Road will be closed from 8am to 7pm
  • Traffic Restrictions will be in place for Kenyon Street, Pearse Street and Nenagh town centre from 2pm to 7pm

Additional parking will be available throughout the town including:

  • The Limerick side at Éire Óg Nenagh GAA Club and the Old Procter & Gamble factory in Gortlandroe
  • The East side of Nenagh Livestock Mart, Strafford Street
  • The Borrisokane side of Nenagh College on Dromin Road

With a high turnout expected, the funeral Mass is to be broadcast live via the official Shane MacGowan Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) pages.

In a statement on Thursday, the singer’s family said they were “so very grateful for the affection and messages of condolence they have received since his passing”.