Crowds line Dublin streets for funeral procession of Pogues singer Shane MacGowan

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Thousands of people lined the streets of Dublin on Friday to say goodbye to the Pogues front man Shane MacGowan as his funeral procession wound through the Irish capital.

MacGowan died Nov. 30 at the age of 65 after a lifetime of drinking, carousing and writing songs that fused Irish tradition with the spirit of punk.

Crowds, gathered under rainy skies, applauded as a horse-drawn glass-sided carriage bore MacGowan’s coffin, draped in an Irish tricolour flag, through the streets. A marching band struck up Fairytale of New York, The Pogues’ most famous song, and groups of people sang other tunes made famous by the band, including the folk song Dirty Old Town, recorded by the Pogues in the 1980s.

Many mourners said they had vivid memories of the band’s rowdy performances. “I remember the first time I saw the Pogues in the Hammersmith Odeon in 1985,” said Aidan Grimes, 60. “It is imprinted in my mind forever, just the madness and mayhem, the raucous nature of his singing and the music they were playing.

“Through the years he evolved into a great poet and he will be sadly missed.” Darragh McColgan, from Dublin, said MacGowan “was representative to me of what being Irish is.” “(This) will be a day we knew was coming but it won’t be easy to deal with because of what a big impact he was,” McColgan said.

WATCH | Hear the crowd sing Pogues tunes during the procession:

Dubliners sing Pogues songs at Shane MacGowan’s funeral procession

Mourners in Dublin sang the folk standard Dirty Old Town and Fairytale of New York in tribute to Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan, who died Nov. 30.

Born in England to Irish parents, MacGowan emerged from London’s punk scene to found the Pogues, who melded Irish folk and rock ‘n’ roll into a unique, intoxicating blend. MacGowan became as famous for his sozzled, slurred performances as for his powerful songwriting, which captured the pain and joy of hardscrabble lives and the Irish emigrant experience.

MacGowan appeared on five of the Pogues albums, spanning their 1984 debut, Red Roses for Me, through to 1990’s Hell’s Ditch. Several of his songs have become classics, including Streams of Whisky, A Pair of Brown Eyes, “If I Should Fall from Grace with God and the bittersweet Christmas ballad Fairytale of New York. 

MacGowan’s funeral mass is due to be held later in the town of Nenagh, in his ancestral home county, Tipperary, about 160 kilometers southwest of Dublin.

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