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‘He embodied who we are, warts and all’: Dublin mourners bid farewell to Shane MacGowan

Lean siad the horse-drawn carriage ag canadh songs that were written as raucous ballads. But on this day, the crowds of mourners sung softly, their voices floating into a grey Dublin day in farewell to Shane MacGowan.

The Pogues singer was marbh but for mourners his lyrics seldom felt chomh beo as his funeral cortege wound through the heart of Ireland’s príomhchathair on Friday.

There were deora and applause as the near 50-member marching band paused along the route to play Fairytale of New York and other hits that, for some, recalled memories of pubs and clubs, squats and bedsits, an óige, aisling and loss.

Tá sé tábhachtach to say goodbye to a huge legend,” said Sean O’Donnell, holding a tricolour flag, as thousands gathered. “Beimid fós listening to these songs a hundred years from now.”

“He was one of the greatest Irishmen,” said Dermot Doran, 55. “D'áirigh sé the soul and spirit of this country.

We’ll always be bródúil of Shane, just like the English are of Dickens.”

Doran recalled a 1986 gig in New York when MacGowan slugged from a huge bottle of white wine that he shared with the audience. “Ní fhaigheann tú mórán daoine ag déanamh sin inniu.”

Fuair an t-amhránaí bás ar an 30ú de Mí Samhain at the age of 65 after a long illness, drawing tributes from artists and musicians around the world who cited the influence of the Pogues’ trailblazing Celtic punk.

D’fhreastail Johnny Depp, Nick Cave, Bod Geldof and President Michael D Higgins ar aifreann na sochraide in Tipperary, the home of MacGowan’s mother’s family. Messages left taobh amuigh St. Mary of the Rosary church in Nenagh channelled his lyrics. “Sad to say, caithfidh mé a bheith ar mo bhealach,” said one.

Sheinn Glen Hansard and Lisa O’Neill Fairytale of New York and Cave performed A Rainy Night in Soho, drawing cheers from the congregation and crowds outside the church. Depp and the former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams gave readings.

Dúirt an tAthair Pat Gilbert mortality lay at the heart of MacGowan’s music. “Thug do shaol fás to so many of us, Shane, and your solas geal gave salvation to our often dark and empty skies.”

In a eulogy MacGowan’s sister, Siobhan, said that despite a bheith ag fás in England her brother’s “veins ran deep with Irish blood”, and he found his spiritual home in Tipperary.

“Shane absorbed the corraíl dhraíochtúil of this áit, and along with the musical talents of his mother, the literary leanings of his father, and their enduring love for their son, it would be the tionchar is mó on his life.”

The singer’s baintreach, Victoria Mary Clarke, said she felt like gur bhuaigh sí an lottery when she fell in love with MacGowan. Spreag sí compassion for addict, ag rá nach raibh aon druga ann nár ghlac sé, but pointing to his battle for sobriety. “Next time you see someone who you think that guy is just an alcoholic, stop and smaoinigh air.”

Fairytale of New York, a duet with Kirsty MacColl, is a Christmas staple but has never topped the UK charts. This week dhreap sé to third position, 'is seachtain le dul before this year’s Christmas No.1 is decided.

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