'A big character from a tiny hamlet' - Hundreds gather for funeral of mother of Pogues' Shane MacGowan
THE mother of Pogues star Shane MacGowan was hailed as "a big character from a tiny hamlet" who bequeathed her remarkable musical talents and international stardom to her son.
The tribute came as hundreds gathered in Silvermines, Co Tipperary to pay their respects at the Requiem Mass of Therese MacGowan (87) who died in a single vehicle accident on New Year’s Day.
A frail Shane MacGowan was brought both into and from the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes by wheelchair. His mother was killed when the Toyota Avensis car she was driving struck a stone wall at Ballintoher outside Nenagh shortly after 3pm as she was returning home.
The pensioner was pronounced dead at the accident scene which was less than 10km from the home she shared with her husband, Maurice (87).
One theory being examined is that she may have suffered a heart attack in the moments before the collision.
Mrs MacGowan was the first person to die on Irish roads this year. The mourners were led by Maurice MacGowan, Shane, his sister, Siobhan, her husband, Anthony, as well as Shane’s partner, Victoria Mary.
Amongst the celebrities who paid their respects was actor Patrick Bergin, artist Guggi, former Pogues member Joey Cashman, singer Mundy, politicians Alan Kelly and Mannix Flynn as well as Judge Elizabeth MacGrath.
The funeral music, performed by the Silvermines Parish Choir, was specially selected by Shane MacGowan and included Ave Maria and Sweet Sixteen.
In a special eulogy, Shane's sister, Siobhan, said her mother was "a woman of incredible grace" and "a big character from a tiny (Tipperary) hamlet."
"Carney Commons was....a place marked by its generosity of spirit," she said. "One journalist wrote that it was a place of unholy hooleys."
"My mother was strikingly beautiful and gregarious. Our mother and father were the best parents in the world."
"They encouraged in us a fierce sense of individuality. They taught us to question and think for ourselves."
"My mother supplied us with an abundance of love. Everyone who knew her also spoke about her grace."
"Not just grace in movement and manner but true grace of the spirit - an open heart and great compassion and wisdom which she shared with us all the time."
"She had a childlike joy but yet a sage mind and impacted so many lives with her magical spirit."
"All felt richer for having known her which is the mark of a life well lived."
Fr Brendan Moloney said Mrs MacGowan had died just four months after she celebrated with 60th wedding anniversary.
"(Therese) inherited her skills and talents in music, song and dance from her ancestors which were so influential in her life and for which she won so many awards," he said.
"So many people said she could have made a professional career her singing was so good."
"But she passed that international stardom to Shane and of course Siobhan acquired the literary skills of writing."
"So it is with two emotions that we celebrate Therese's journey in life - sadness for Maurice to lose your wife of 60 years and for Shane and Siobhan to part with a loving and caring mother who was the heart of your home."
"But that sadness is eased with the joy of having Therese in your lives for so many years - to have many happy memories is a blessing."
She had lived in Tipperary for decades after moving back to Ireland from the UK. The family had been based in Kent before Shane relocated to London.
However, following the family’s return to Ireland, he spent part of his teenage years in Tipperary. His mother worked as a typist and admitted that she loved to see her son spend as much time as possible in north Tipperary.
The funeral came as the end of a difficult week for the Pogues singer after the band’s manager, Frank Murray, who was also a close friend of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, was buried last week.
Mr MacGowan marked his 59th birthday on Christmas Day. Last week, his partner Victoria Mary Clarke paid a heartfelt thanks on the singer’s behalf to all those who have sent messages of condolences after the tragedy.
“Shane MacGowan would like to say thank you and God bless to all the people who are offering kind words and condolences,” she wrote on social media.
“It means a lot.”
“(People are) being overwhelmingly lovely and kind. It is amazing - thank you.”
Throughout his life, Shane MacGowan credited his mother for instilling in him his love of music.
Therese was an accomplished singer and songwriter in her youth and won numerous awards for her performances.
“I came from a musical family, and we always sang and most people played an instrument,” he explained in a 2001 documentary about The Pogues.
“My mother won loads of medals and cups for singing, dancing and singing in Irish as well.”