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Wednesday 22 November 2017

MacGowan family gather for farewell to 'a big character from a tiny hamlet'

Siobhan MacGowan places her hand on the hearse. Photo: Tony Gavin
Siobhan MacGowan places her hand on the hearse. Photo: Tony Gavin
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

She was "a big character from a tiny hamlet" who bequeathed her remarkable musical talents and international stardom to her son.

The tribute to Therese MacGowan came as hundreds gathered in Silvermines, Co Tipperary, to pay their respects at the Requiem Mass of the 87-year-old mother of Pogues star Shane.

A frail-looking Shane MacGowan leaving his mother Therese’s funeral at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Silvermines, Co Tipperary. Photo: Tony Gavin
A frail-looking Shane MacGowan leaving his mother Therese’s funeral at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Silvermines, Co Tipperary. Photo: Tony Gavin

A frail-looking 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 on New Year's Day.

The pensioner was pronounced dead at the accident scene which was less than 10km from the home she shared with her husband, Maurice (87).

The mourners were led by Maurice MacGowan, Shane, his sister Siobhan, her husband Anthony, as well as Shane's partner Victoria Mary Clarke.

Among the celebrities who paid their respects were actor Patrick Bergin, artist Guggi, former Pogues member Joey Cashman, singer Mundy, politicians Alan Kelly and Mannix Flynn, as well as Judge Elizabeth MacGrath.

Therese's husband Maurice supported by family members. Photo: Tony Gavin
Therese's husband Maurice supported by family members. Photo: Tony Gavin

The funeral music, performed by the Silvermines Parish Choir, was specially selected by Shane MacGowan and included 'Ave Maria' and 'Sweet Sixteen'.

Throughout his life, he credited his mother for instilling in him his love of music.

Read more: 'Every call, every card, every little bit of love is always deeply appreciated'

In a special eulogy, Siobhan said her mother was "a woman of incredible grace" and "a big character from a tiny hamlet".

Therese MacGowan. Photo: Getty Images
Therese MacGowan. Photo: Getty Images

"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.

Victoria Mary Clarke. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Victoria Mary Clarke. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

"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 her 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.

Patrick Bergin was among the mourners. Photo: Tony Gavin
Patrick Bergin was among the mourners. Photo: Tony Gavin

"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 at 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.

Victoria Mary Clarke has 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.

"It means a lot.

"(People are) being overwhelmingly lovely and kind. It is amazing - thank you."

Irish Independent

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