Shane MacGowan's funeral: Johnny Depp, Bono, and more share emotional tributes

Publish Date
Monday, 11 December 2023, 8:48AM

Johnny Depp and Nick Cave were among those to pay their respects to late The Pogues star Shane MacGowan at his public funeral mass in Ireland on Friday afternoon.

The Pogues star died of pneumonia at his home on November 30, aged 65, after months of battling ill health.

The live-streamed funeral took place at St Mary’s of the Rosary Church in Nenagh, County Tipperary, with crowds filling the church grounds in the pouring rain to remember the music legend.

His coffin sat at the front of the church with a huge black-and-white portrait of the singer with a glass of wine and a cigarette to the side, and a smaller one towards the back. Another picture was then placed on top of the coffin, along with a cross and floral tribute.

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The funeral was both a sombre and uplifting affair with clapping and cheering as his favourite things were shown, including a Buddha, with his widow Victoria Mary Clarke quipping it was probably “the first time a Buddha” had been held up in a Catholic church.

A box of teabags, because he “drank 50 cups a day”, and a signed copy of pal Depp’s band The Hollywood Vampires album Rise, plus many of his beloved instruments and literary favourites were placed around the coffin.

A metal tray that Pogues singer Spider Stacy would “bash over Shane’s head” during gigs was also placed by his side.

This was part of the Context of Symbols presentation.

The unveiling of the Tipperary flag received claps and cheers from the congregation.

‘A poet and a trailblazer’

A candle burns next to a photograph of The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan at the Mansion House in Dublin. Photo / AP

Imelda May, who had recently visited MacGowan in hospital, performed You’re the One with Declan O’Rourke.

Glen Hansard, Lisa O'Neill and The Pogues performed Fairytale of New York, which you can watch above,

Mundy and Camille O’Sullivan performed The Pogues’ 1986 tune Haunted.

Musician Nick Cave then took to the piano to perform another hit by the punk band, A Rainy Night in Soho.

Bono, who is in Las Vegas completing a residency, pre-recorded his reading of Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians.

Hollywood actor Depp was among those who delivered the Prayers of the Faithful readings.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star read: “May we feel the pain of others, understand their need and reach out to all who suffer in any way with a continuous love that is rooted in faith and peace.”

Depp — whom MacGowan was a “superfan” of — saluted his late friend and hailed him as a “maestro” before the reading.

A theme in the readings was about those battling addiction, and praying they get the help they need.

MacGowan publicly battled addictions to alcohol and drugs.

The Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan and musician John Francis Flynn performed I’m a Man You Don’t Meet Every Day.

The masses lined Dublin’s streets and The Pogues’ beloved songs were blasted out as the hearse made its way from St Lotts Rd in Dublin’s city centre to Tipperary.

The procession included a horse-drawn carriage, the Artane Band and a piper.

Rousing renditions of A Pair Of Brown Eyes and Dirty Old Town could be heard on Dublin’s southside, followed by the festive classic Fairytale Of New York.

MacGowan’s widow was seen putting on a brave face as she was pictured smiling in the funeral car.

A private cremation will follow the public mass.

MacGowan’s sister, Siobhan — an accomplished author — delivered a eulogy as the ceremony drew to a close, as she rhymed off a string memories of her brother ranging from their childhood together until his acclaimed music career, before his widow also paid tribute to her late husband.

She said: “He was grateful for the gift of life, every morning he woke up and thanked God. And he also prayed for other people. He often prayed for actors on TV, who weren’t dead at all, they were just dead on TV.

“His devotion was very beautiful but very radical. I think he reinvented Irish music and made it into a different thing but also reinvented religion and made that into a very different thing. He loved and respected every religious text he could get his hands on, I think that’s pretty unique. He loved humanity and he believed that God is love, God is compassion and God is forgiveness.

“Towards the end, he became ... when I met him, he loved people but he didn’t demonstrate that to his friends. He could be cantankerous and rude.

“But towards the end, he told everyone how much he loved them. The nurses in the hospital were shocked because he’d just say ‘I love you’ to them.

“I don’t think he can go away. I don’t think love can go away, can it?”

This article was first published by NZ Herald and is republished here with edits and permission

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