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Mourners gather for Dublin procession ahead of Shane MacGowan funeral

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Mourners are gathering in Dublin for a public procession ahead of the funeral of Shane MacGowan.

The songwriter, who found fame as the lead singer of London-Irish punk/folk band The Pogues, died at the age of 65 last week.

The procession is travelling by horse-drawn carriage from South Lotts Road in Dublin’s southside, down Pearse Street and onto Westland Row.

Among those who turned out to pay their respects is Aidan Grimes, 60, who described MacGowan as an icon.

He said: “I remember the first time I saw The Pogues in the Hammersmith Odeon in 1985. 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.

“I met him in Dublin about 15 years ago and he was a very charming, nice, friendly man. He talked about music and his time in London.

“I thought it was important to pay my respects. He was an icon of Dublin, just like Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly. His music will be listened to in 100 years’ time.”

Kevin Sexton from Co Fermanagh said MacGowan opened doors for Irish people living in England.

“He made Irish people proud to be Irish at a time in London when it was a very difficult time to be Irish.

“The Troubles were in full tilt. A lot of terrible things happened.

“Shane MacGowan opened doors. He introduced Irish culture and his own unique writing ability and voice and style that opened up a mix of Irish music plus rock plus punk, his whole unique persona transformed into song that enlightened the world.”

Darragh McColgan from Dublin said MacGowan was a genius.

He added: “To me he was all about culture, the energy of it, it was representative to me of what being Irish is.

“It 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.”

MacGowan’s public funeral mass, which will be livestreamed, will take place at St Mary’s of the Rosary Church in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, at 3.30pm.

Irish President Michael D Higgins is expected to attend alongside well-known faces from the world of music.

Father Pat Gilbert told RTE that the funeral would celebrate the spiritual side of MacGowan.

He said: “It’s a side of him that’s not known but it’s a side of him we must celebrate. It’s a side that was important to him in the context of his living of his life.

“We will have the rite of reception, we’ll have mass and we’ll have the rite of final accommodation interspersed with pieces of his music which will be performed by some of his friends.

“I think that’s the right thing to do, that’s the way to celebrate the man, the faith, the music and the lyric.

“It’s the way to celebrate and remember the husband, the brother, the son and the brother-in-law.”

Following the funeral mass, the public will also have the opportunity to pay their respects as the funeral cortege moves through Nenagh town centre from Church Road to Market Cross.

A private cremation will follow.

MacGowan was born to Irish parents in 1957 in Pembury, Kent, and he soon moved to rural Tipperary where he was immersed in a culture of ceili bands and showbands.

The Pogues frontman, best known for the hit festive song Fairytale Of New York, died “peacefully” at 3am on November 30 with his wife and family by his side, a statement from his relatives said.

He was due to celebrate his 66th birthday on Christmas Day.

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