Late Pogues singer Shane MacGowan will be laid to rest on Friday (Dec. 8) in Nenagh, County Tipperary in Ireland, not far from the family farm he grew up on. According to RTE, the funeral will be open to the public, allowing friends, fans and family to say farewell to the beloved vocalist/songwriter who died on Thursday at 65.
The “Fairytale of New York” starwho had battled a series of major health issues in recent years, died of pneumonia in a hospital, his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, told the New York Times. MacGowan, who would have turned 66 on Christmas Day, had been battling viral encephalitis before his death.
Clarke told RTE that after months in the hospital, MacGowan was discharged on Nov. 22 and sent home to spend time with friends and family. “He was trying very hard to breathe,” Clarke said. “He wasn’t ready to give up. He wasn’t ready to stop fighting — but his body did it for him.” She said that a “constant stream of visitors” came to visit MacGowan over his final months, including U2’s Bono and The Edge, singer Imelda May, Irish playwright/filmmaker Jim Sheridan and Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie, among others.
Clarke also confirmed that MacGowan completed an album before his death and that it “sounded good… he took great delight in the music he made.”
According to RTE, the funeral will begin on Friday morning when the cortege will leave Nenagh and travel to Dublin, where the procession will move across the city to St. Mary of the Rosary church. The singer’s remains will then be returned to Tipperary and cremated, according to the Irish Independent, with this ashes to be scattered across the river Shannon, the longest river in Ireland, which MacGowan sang about on the song “The Broad Majestic Shannon” from the Pogues landmark 1987 album, If I Should Fall From Grace With God.
MacGowan will be returned to the river he wrote about so eloquently in the song featuring his patented sad-eyed naturalistic imagery. “So I walked as day was dawning/ Where small birds sang and leaves were falling/ Where we once watched the rowboats landing/ On the broad majestic Shannon,” he sang on the track.
Irish President Michael Higgins is scheduled to represent the nation at the funeral, which is expected to also be attended by Bono, the remaining members of the Pogues and other Irish luminaries; U2 are slated to play a residency show at Sphere in Las Vegas on Friday, so it’s unclear if Bono will appear in person at the funeral.
MacGowan’s passing was honored by a broad cross section of musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Garbage, the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, Nick Cave, Jason Isbell, and U2, who performed “A Rainy Day in Soho” at their Vegas residency over the weekend. In a rare public statement, fellow chronicler of whiskey-soaked, diamond-in-the-dirt characters Tom Waits penned a moving tribute along with his wife/co-songwriter Kathleen Brennan.
“Ah, the blessings of the cursed. Shane McGowan’s torrid and mighty voice is mud and roses punched out with swaggering stagger, ancient longing that is blasted all to hell. A Bard’s bard, may he cast his spell upon us all forevermore,” they wrote.
See some of the tributes below.