A Buddha, a Love Song, and 17 Other Objects Tell His Story

Funeral Mass in County Tipperary

The funeral Mass for legendary musician Shane MacGowan took place on December 8 at St. Mary of the Rosary Church in Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland. Reflecting his close ties to the church, Shane would occasionally accompany his late mother to Mass at this very location, as revealed by his sister, Siobhan MacGowan.

Personal Touch: Objects of Meaning

The funeral Mass commenced with a distinctive touch—individual displays of 19 objects that held personal significance for Shane MacGowan.

Positioned between the altar and the coffin, Father Pat Gilbert, the principal celebrant, presented each item to the congregation. These objects ranged from a Buddha statue to a DVD of “The Godfather” and a copy of James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake.”

Symbolic Buddha and Eclectic Choices

Among the objects, the Buddha statue stood out, symbolizing MacGowan’s appreciation for diverse religions, especially Buddhism. Victoria Mary Clarke, Shane’s wife, shared insights about each object at the lectern before handing them to the priest. As the Buddha statue was raised, she remarked, “Is that the first time they’ve held up a Buddha in a Catholic church?”

Musical Farewell

Deviating from traditional funeral music, the funeral Mass featured mostly nonreligious tunes. Following the first reading from the Book of Revelation, a poignant moment unfolded as a man and woman performed “Haunted by the Ghost,” a love song composed by Shane MacGowan. This musical tribute added a personal and unique touch to the farewell proceedings.

Shane MacGowan’s funeral Mass not only paid homage to his Irish Catholic roots but also celebrated his eclectic tastes, diverse spirituality, and artistic contributions through an unconventional blend of objects and music.

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