Shane MacGowan’s funeral service allowed fans and loved ones to celebrate the life of a legend, but it piqued the rage of one Irish priest.
Nenagh’s Saint Mary of the Rosary Church was alive with the sound of the Pogues as fans and loved ones bade farewell to the late Shane MacGowan on 8 December.
Many across the world saw the scenes as a fitting tribute to the Irish singer, but one Irish priest saw it differently.
Shane MacGowan – a punk and a poet
With his legendary band, the Pogues, Irish singer Shane MacGowan produced some of the most well-known and beloved Irish songs of all time, including ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’, ‘Sally MacLennane’, and, of course, ‘Fairytale of New York’.
His career saw him work with legends of Irish music, like Sinéad O’Connor and Ronnie Drew, and some of the most influential artists in music history, such as Joe Strummer, Nick Cave, and Bobby Gillespie.
MacGowan’s funeral – a celebration of a legend
MacGowan spent his early childhood in Tipperary but moved to England with his family at the age of six. However, he never lost interest and pride in his Irish roots, which formed a huge part of his identity and artistry.
His funeral procession attracted thousands to the streets to see off an Irish legend, while family, friends, and collaborators crammed into Saint Mary of the Rosary Church in Nenagh for the service.
Footage of the funeral made waves across the world as people took to the aisles to sing and dance to MacGowan’s songs.
“Totally out of place” – an Irish priest’s reaction to the funeral
While many delighted in the images from MacGowan’s funeral, one Irish priest was left incensed by the scenes. Belfast’s Father Paddy McCafferty labelled the display a “scandal”, adding that he “wouldn’t allow that in [his] church”.
“The introduction of all these elements into that funeral mass frankly was a scandal, and it shouldn’t have happened,” he told Belfast Live. “If they wanted to have that sort of event, they could have hired a hall somewhere and did all that.
“It was an abuse of the liturgy, and it showed a completely askew understanding of what we actually are doing when we celebrate a funeral mass.”
McCafferty took particular umbrage with the singing of the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s 1987 Christmas hit, ‘Fairytale of New York’.
“The singing of that ‘Fairytale of New York’ after Holy Communion, totally out of place,” he continued. “The words that are used in that song and in the church showed no understanding of the sacredness of what the place is and the holiness of the mass.
“It was completely inappropriate, to say the least, to the point of scandal, and something needs to be done about these so-called celebrity funerals in a Catholic church. If people want that, then go somewhere else”.