Q Magazine

‘The Measure of My Dreams’ – Ireland Mourns at the Funeral of Shane MacGowan

A parade through Dublin and service in County Tipperary saw huge crowds, tears, singing… and emotional tributes from Nick Cave, Bono, and Johnny Depp.

shane macgowan
Source: Mirrorpix/Newscom/The Mega Agency

The funeral of Shane MacGowan took place on December 8, 2023.

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to Email

The funeral of Shane MacGowan saw thousands of people line the streets of Dublin and Tipperary as it seemed most of Ireland came out to show their respects to the former Pogues frontman.

MacGowan died from pneumonia aged 65 on November 30. He was diagnosed with encephalitis and had been in ill health for some time. After his death tributes poured in from across the music world, with Nick Cave describing him as "a true friend and the greatest songwriter of his generation" and Bruce Springsteen posting an emotional message on his website.

“The passion and deep intensity of his music and lyrics is unmatched by all but the very best in the rock and roll canon,” he wrote. “His music is timeless and eternal. I don’t know about the rest of us, but they’ll be singing Shane’s songs 100 years from now.”

Article continues below advertisement
bruce springsteen shane macgowan tribute
Source: brucespringsteen.net

Bruce Springsteen described Shane MacGowan as "one of my all-time favorite writers".

The funeral began with a procession through the streets of Dublin at 11am on Dec. 8. A horse-drawn carriage, in which MacGowan’s coffin lay draped in an Irish tricolor, was led by a piper and the Artane band, and for an hour made its way across the center of the city as crowds applauded.

The mood was celebratory – speakers propped in open windows played Pogues favorites including the 1987 ballad "Fairytale of New York," which is now widely tipped to top the UK charts this Christmas – and numerous buskers along the route also struck up impromptu, and occasionally raucous, singalongs. Among the most emotional moments came towards the end of the procession, when the Artane Band struck up the Pogues 1986 hit "A Rainy Night in Soho."

Article continues below advertisement

Following the carriage was Shane’s widow Victoria Mary Clarke. In an Instagram post the night before, she delivered a heartfelt tribute to the huge outpouring of affection for the singer.

“Shane hated funerals and he refused to go to them with a few rare exceptions,” she wrote. “So it’s incredible to think that so many people want to come to his and that so many beautiful people are pouring their hearts and souls into making it magnificent and magical and memorable for him and for us who are left behind.

“I am feeling my heart bursting open in all directions with the amount of love that is being showered on us and most especially because everyone has their own problems and challenges and everyone has their own loved ones who they need to look after.

“I feel that Shane is with me all the time and that he is feeling intense appreciation and gratitude and that he is still sending love to everyone and maybe in a more powerful way from where he is now.”

shane macgowan victoria mary clarke

Shane MacGowan's wife Victoria Mary Clarke posted an emotional message ahead of his funeral.

Article continues below advertisement

After the procession reached the end of its route through the Irish capital, the cortege, still serenaded by the crowd, left for Nenagh, County Tipperary, close to where MacGowan spent boyhood summers with his mother, where the funeral took place in St Mary of the Rosary church at 3.30pm. The service was streamed live via RTE, Ireland’s state broadcaster.

Once again, huge crowds gathered outside the church, breaking into spontaneous applause and cheers of “Shane-o” as the hearse arrived. Among the guests inside were celebrity friends including Bobby Gillespie and Johnny Depp, who delivered a prayer. Bono gave his reading via video from Las Vegas, and also posted a tribute on X (formerly Twitter) writing: “Shane MacGowan’s songs were perfect so he or we his fans didn’t have to be."

bono shane macgowan tribute
Source: X / U2

Bono's portrait of MacGowan was accompanied by lyrics from "A Rainy Night in Soho."

Article continues below advertisement

The service began with Imelda May, Declan O'Rourke and Liam Ó Maonlaí of Hothouse Flowers singing MacGowan’s 1994 song "You're the One." There were also performances from Irish singer Lisa O’Neill and Nick Cave, whose impassioned rendition of "A Rainy Night in Soho," accompanied by accordion and violin, was met with a huge round of applause – and many tears.

As the Pogues' original bassist Cait O'Riordan and folk singer John Francis Flynn performed "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day," a traditional song featured on the Pogues' breakthrough album, Rum, Sodomy and The Lash, many inside the church joined in.

Later in the ceremony, Glen Hansard and O'Neill duetted on a joyful rendition of "Fairytale of New York," accompanied by members of the Pogues, which climaxed with mourners dancing in the aisles. The funeral was closed by MacGowan's longtime bandmade Peter Richard "Spider" Stacy performing the traditional song "The Parting Glass," which the Pogues recorded in the 1980s.

the pogues
Source: GC2/ZJE/WENN/Newscom/The Mega Agency

"Shane and the Pogues made it international and cool to play the tin whistle, banjo or accordion."

Article continues below advertisement

During his homily, parish priest Father Pat Gilbert paid tribute to MacGowan’s talents as a musician, poet, and also Irishman.

"He connected the cultural, the sociological, the spiritual, the physical and the metaphysical into a coherent translation of what was happening all around us," he told the congregation, adding that the singer expressed himself "in the raw life of living.”

He also described MacGowan as a “master” lyricist, and “our modern-day-bard,” saying: "As Brendan Behan did in prose, Shane McGowan did in poetry.

"There was the pride of being Irish… Shane and the Pogues made it international and cool to play the tin whistle, banjo or accordion."

Although MacGowan’s music and lyricism were at the heart of the service, Father Gilbert saved his most poignant tribute for his family – and especially widow Victoria.

He was “the social commentator, the songsmith, the son, the brother, husband and friend,” he told her. "I know that he adored you, and you him."


Subscribe to our newsletter

your info will be used in accordance with our privacy policy

Read More