Ireland

London Irish Centre lit up green in tribute to Shane MacGowan

(Brian Lawless/PA)
(Brian Lawless/PA) (Brian Lawless/PA)

Hundreds of mourners flooded into the London Irish Centre to celebrate the late Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan, who “gave the London Irish an identity”.

Guests at the fully-booked and free-of-charge night paid tribute to the singer, who died on Thursday.

Most were not surprised to learn he passed away as he battled ill health for years.

A tribute band played The Pogues hits at the centre, that was lit up in green, in Camden.

Tributes were left on sticky notes on the wall and attendees sang along to MacGowan’s songs in the dance hall, where a montage of The Pogues photographs played on a projector.

Maggie Erangey, 50, lives in Custom House, east London, and remembers “unpretentious” MacGowan turning up to pubs in her hometown of Cork and playing spontaneous sets without even going on stage.

She said: “It was just, ‘oh, there’s Shane and the gang’, he just came in and sang.

“I said to my friend yesterday, ‘look, he’s passed away’ and it just reduced me to tears.

“My friend said ‘for God’s sake, you’re more upset about the death of someone you never knew, who’s just an icon, than I am about my uncle who’s passed away.’

“We only had two TV stations growing up back in Ireland.

“We had all the local singing in the pub and stuff, you didn’t have the Top Of The Pops [TV show] – you had the guys who came to the pub and played and sang, it was so different.”

Philomena Costigan, 60, from Cahir in Country Tipperary, waved her county’s flag outside the building.

MacGowan had roots in Tipperary and Ms Costigan read a tribute she wrote after learning he died: “Shane is a legend for the diaspora Irish, he took our music and brought it back to us, he voiced our fear and brought to tears.

“He made us feel pride when we faced derision.”

Ann Corrigan, from Muswell Hill – whose family were from County Mayo, said she last saw MacGowan play around a decade ago in Finsbury Park.

She said: “I went to see him in concerts loads of times because he would always play around this time of year, his songs just spoke to you.

“They wouldn’t have spoken to my parents’ generation, because they would have just seen it as noise.

“But for us, he was second generation Irish as well, he had that feeling that you’re Irish but you are London Irish – there’s that spirit that Ireland is home even if you’ve never lived there, there’s that feeling you can’t escape it somehow.”

Tony Dordy, 73, grew up in Cork and Dublin came to London in 1970.

The Camden resident said: “The writing was on the wall [that MacGowan would soon pass away] but he made a lot of people happy.

“He’s a legend, he will never be forgotten – Shane, my man, you’re moving on, RIP.”