The crowd of mourners had thinned during the long service, but who could blame them?
The wind howled and blew gusts of rain through their ranks on a bleak winter’s day in Nenagh.
But then a moment of perfect warmth flowed from within the Rosary Church of St. Mary and enclosed them outside.
They stem from the song that will forever shape Shane MacGowan’s legacy, The Adventure of New York drifted out, and the crowd came alive, roaring the lyrics into the dark sky and raising their phones above their heads.
The irony—when he died, MacGowan was really sick of the song—was irrelevant. Inside the church, Shane’s widow Victoria twirled in front of the altar as a joyous jig broke out among the mourners. They danced in the hallways.
His sister Siobhan rose to deliver a tribute after the performance. Smiling, she told the mourner, “Wow, I think Shane would have enjoyed that.”
During the day, Fairytale had been piped over the town’s PA system, the shrill festive duet serenading shoppers, along with the rest of the Pogues’ back catalogue. Here in Nenagh, his childhood home, he was known simply as Shane.
“An ordinary guy”. That’s how local music shop owner Noel McQuaid described the late singer, who often stopped by to buy CDs of traditional Irish music.
“He didn’t want to be treated any differently and we didn’t treat him any differently, anyone in Nenagh. That’s how he wanted it.
“I think I’ve died and gone to heaven”, Father Pat Gilbert said after the remaining Pogues members performed at his church, after informing the congregation of his fanhood.
Earlier in the day we had seen several scenes of celebration on the streets of Dublin, Shane’s adopted home, as his motorcade wound its way through the streets, with fans raising pints of Guinness and bursting into song. Some threw flowers.
Josie Feeney, from Co Leitrim, traveled to Dublin to pay her respects.
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’re really very moving, they’re poetry. He was a genius.”
According to his widow, Shane MacGowan hated going to funerals and tried to avoid them.
This was no funeral in the normal sense of the word. It was a long, raucous and slightly chaotic celebration of a hugely chaotic and much-loved icon of modern Ireland.