Johnny Depp, Nick Cave among stars paying tribute at Pogues singer Shane McGowan’s funeral

Thousands lined the streets of Dublin to say goodbye to The Pogues frontman Shane McGowan as his coffin wound through the Irish capital ahead of a small-town funeral attended by family, neighbors and friends including Johnny Depp and Nick Cave .

MacGowan died on November 30 at the age of 65 after a lifetime of boozing, drinking and writing songs that blended Irish traditional music with the spirit of punk.

He has become an Irish cultural icon, and President of Ireland Michael Higgins was among hundreds of people who packed Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Nena for the funeral mass.

Mourners at the service in MacGowan’s home county of Tipperary, about 100 miles southwest of Dublin, included former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Irish actor Aidan Gillen, who gave readings. There was also a recorded reading by U2’s Bono. Depp, a friend of the musician, was among those who helped lead the prayers.

Shane McGowan's funeral procession departs Shelburne Park Stadium as it makes its way through the streets of Dublin, ahead of his funeral in Co Tipperary, Ireland.

Liam McBurney/AP

Shane McGowan’s funeral procession departs Shelburne Park Stadium as it makes its way through the streets of Dublin, ahead of his funeral in Co Tipperary, Ireland.

Father Pat Gilbert welcomed “the world of people that this great man influenced, encouraged, entertained and touched” at the service, which was broadcast live on television and online.

The priest called McGowan “a poet, a lyricist, a singer, a pioneer” whose “raw, vibrant, energetic, down-to-earth expression gave us hope, heart and longing.”

At the front of the Catholic church, the singer’s casket was strewn with red roses, along with a black-and-white photo of a young McGowan. Friends and bandmates carried symbols of MacGowan’s life, including a Led Zeppelin record, a copy of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, a DVD of The Godfather, a statue of the Virgin Mary and Buddha.

“Shane was a lover of all religions,” said his widow, Victoria Mary Clark.

The procession makes its way through the streets of Dublin.

Liam McBurney/AP

The procession makes its way through the streets of Dublin.

Musicians including Cave and Imelda May performed several of MacGowan’s songs during the service, including a rousing rendition of Fairytale of New York, led by Glenn Hansard and Lisa O’Neill, which had the congregation dancing in the aisles.

Earlier, crowds gathered under rainy skies cheered as a horse-drawn carriage with glass walls carried MacGowan’s casket, draped in an Irish tricolor flag, through the streets of Dublin. song and groups of people sing other tunes made famous by the group, including “Dirty Old Town”, a standard recorded by The Pogues in the 1980s.

Many mourners said they had vivid memories of the band’s exuberant performances.

“It’s etched in my mind forever, just the madness and chaos, the raspy nature of his singing and the music they played,” said Aidan Grimes, 60. “Over the years he’s become a great poet and he’ll be sadly missed.”

Darragh McColgan from Dublin said McGowan “represented to me what it was to be Irish”.

Nick Cave arrives for Shane McGowan's funeral.

Niall Carson/AP

Nick Cave arrives for Shane McGowan’s funeral.

“(It’s) going to be a day that we knew was coming, but it’s not going to be easy to deal with because of the big impact he had,” McColgan said.

Born in England to Irish parents, MacGowan emerged from the London punk scene to form The Pogues, who blended Irish folk and rock ‘n’ roll into a unique, intoxicating blend. MacGowan became as famous for his water-soaked, obscure performances as he was for his powerful songwriting, which captures the pain and joy of the difficult lives and experiences of Irish emigrants.

Victoria Mary Clarke, right, Shane McGowan's wife.

Liam McBurney/AP

Victoria Mary Clarke, right, Shane McGowan’s wife.

Several of his songs have become classics, including Streams of Whiskey, A Pair of Brown Eyes, If I Should Fall from Grace with God and the bittersweet Christmas ballad Fairytale of New York.

MacGowan’s creativity went hand in hand with an insatiable appetite for alcohol and drugs, which eventually got him kicked out of The Pogues. Clarke, his widow, said McGowan “was an explorer.”

“It explores the limits of what you can do while still in a physical body. And his physical body lasted a very long time considering what he did to it,” she said.

“His mind was able to go to those places normal minds don’t go, and I thank you for that.”

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