Shane MacGowan’s final farewell

The Mass, the words and the music

A chara, – I am a fan of Frank McNally’s Irishman’s Diary. I admire his knowledge of words and his ability to explore their use. So I was disappointed to read his description of my words for Shane MacGowan at Shane’s funeral Mass (“Shane MacGowan bows out as thousands line streets on a rainy day in Nenagh”, Friday, December 8th). Frank describes these as striking “a strident political note”.

For the record this is what I said. Strident?

“Victoria asked me to say a few words. That’s what Shane wanted.

Mo chomhbhrón leatsa agus leis bhur gclann go háirithe deirfiúr Shane agus a Athair, Siobhán agus Maurice.


Go raibh maith agat a Athair Pat.

My words are words of gratitude. Gratitude for Shane’s genius – for his songs. His creativity and his attitude. Gratitude for his humour and his intelligence and his compassion.

Grateful for his vulnerability, his knowledge and his modesty. Gratitude for his celebration of the marginalised, the poor, our exiles and underdogs.

Grateful for the Pogues and all our music makers, all our dreamers of dreams.

Thankful to Shane’s carers.

Proud of how Shane deepened our sense of Irishness and our humanity. Grateful for his rejections of the revisionism of time-serving fumblers in greasy tills.

Glad that he stood by the people of the North, in war and in peace, and that he was proud of Tipperary’s fight for Irish freedom and his family’s role in this.

Thankful for his poet’s eye for words of love and betrayal, justice and injustice, rejection and redemption.

Grateful that Shane lifted us out of ourselves and that he never gave up.

Delighted that he empowered us to dance and sing, to make fun and to shout and yell and laugh and cry and to love and to be free.

Ár laoch thú Shane.

Ár ghile mear.

File, Ceoltóir, fear uasal.

Your music will live forever.

You are the measurer of our dreams.

Go raibh maith agat Shane MacGowan.” – Le meas,



Sir, – The funeral Mass for Shane MacGowan was a fitting tribute to a wonderful artist, poet and singer. What was striking was the liberal liturgy – a rock song for an introduction to the psalm, multiple applause on every aspect with extraordinary readings chosen and “performed”.

The President in attendance with a packed church hooting, whistling and cheering at every remark, comment and appearance.

I recall many other funerals when families were and are limited to strict religious so-called rules for everyone. Well done to those who secured their celebration of a wonderful bard entertainer. RIP Shane. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – Shane MacGowan, challenging to the end!

His funeral Mass was certainly a celebration of his life but not as I have ever experienced a requiem service in my lifetime in the Catholic Church.

Not too many years ago I had the stressful task of “negotiating” a funeral Mass for someone very close.

It was a difficult and sad experience, typified, for example, by the absolute rigidity I encountered in terms of the music and singing permitted.

There was no Fairy Tale of New York, not that I dared to ask for anything with such irreverent words.

Watching the funeral coverage from St Mary of the Rosary Church, Nenagh, I wondered whether this was a very awkward experience for the leadership of our church, wishing that it would be soon out of the way, or did it engender a pause for reflection and forward thinking on how the church might become relevant to the generations who continue to drift away? – Yours, etc,


Kilkenny city.