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Shane MacGowan ‘left €10,000 behind bar for VIP wake’

The Pogues frontman’s final farewell was marked by a celebrity wake at a tiny pub – said to have been funded by the singer as part of his dying wish for mourners to have a drink on him

Barney Davis
Tuesday 12 December 2023 20:29 GMT
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Shane MacGowan's widow shows items singer wanted at his funeral

Shane MacGowan’s last wish couldn’t have been more fitting – he wanted his mourners to have a marathon drunken night on him.

The Pogues’ punk poet, who died aged 65 from pneumonia after months of ill heath, is said to have left €10k behind the bar of The Thatched Cottage in Nenagh, the tiny town in Co Tipperary where his star-studded funeral was held on Friday 8 December.

One of infamously hard-boozing MacGowan’s former drinking partners told The Independent while we were in Tipperary for his funeral and wake: “I know the pub they are going to for the meal after there has already been €10,000 handed over the counter for free beer – it was Shane’s last request.

MacGowan had a double wake in the town that hosted his final farewell (PA Wire)

“It is a beautiful place just outside of town but there is only a limited amount of people allowed.”

The Thatched Cottage was three miles out of Nenagh, and hosted MacGowan’s invite-only VIP wake. It’s not known who footed the huge bar bill, but dozens of mourners said it was funded by MacGowan’s estate.

Guests needed pre-prepared concert style passes and lanyards to get through the doors, which were guarded by a group of 10 suited minders – when usually there wouldn’t be a sign of even one bouncer at the remote rural watering hole.

The mourners who drank the bar dry inside the packed pub, from 6pm to dawn, included MacGowan’s long-time pal Johnny Depp, 60, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, 62, and MacGowan’s Pogues bandmates – as well as singer Glen Hansard.

Hansard, 53, played Pogues classic Fairytale of New York to the hundreds of mourners-turned-revellers inside the bar – just like he did at the funeral in the St Mary’s of the Rosary Church hours earlier.

MacGowan’s widow Victoria Mary Clarke was said to have spent most of the night “hanging out with Johnny Depp” who she this week described as a “tower of strength” in the wake of her husband of 20 years’ death.

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One guest inside The Thatched Cottage said the “most special moment of the night” was when the remaining Pogues –including Spider Stacy, 64, and bassist Cait O’Riordan, 58– performed a rousing rendition of their traditional foot-stomperThe Body of An American.

Three miles the other way – and without free drink – was another wake for MacGowan.

The Independent’s Barney Davis saw Guinness flowing at the unofficial wake in Philly’s Bar (Barney Davis)

It was held at Philly’s Bar, owned by the singer’s favourite landlord, who doubled up as his undertaker.

Philip ‘Philly’ Ryan prepared MacGowan for his final farewell at his JJ Ryan’s funeral parlour, opposite the pub that bears his name.

‘Philly’ Ryan who was MacGowan’s undertaker – after 20 years of pulling the wild man’s pints at his bar in Tipperary (Supplied)

Philly’s was packed to the rafters, with one drinker describing it as “like ten St Patrick’s Days in New York”, with the unofficial send-off going on until well after 4am.

In a heartfelt Instagram post, his widow Victoria thanked “loyal and devoted friends” helping her cope with her husband’s death.

She wrote: “Johnny Depp is one of the most gracious of angels and I know that Shane really appreciated the way that he was always so completely respectful and accepting of every aspect of his being even at times when a lot of people were dismissing him as being a hopeless addict and past his prime.

“Seeing the adoration that Johnny felt for Shane was a great source of encouragement and strength during some really tough times and I am eternally grateful to him for never seeing Shane as anything less than perfect and brilliant and beautiful.”

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