Fr. Paddy McCafferty, a priest in West Belfast, has described Shane MacGowan's funeral Mass, which featured live music and impromptu dancing, as a "scandal."

MacGowan's funeral Mass was in St. Mary of the Rosary Church in Nenagh, Co Tipperary on Friday, December 8, and featured several music performances, including a lively rendition of "Fairytale of New York" performed by Glen Hansard, Lisa O'Neill, and members of the Pogues. 

Footage from the funeral showed several mourners, including MacGowan's widow Victoria Mary Clarke and sister Siobhan, dancing near the front of the church as the song reached its conclusion. 

That special moment when the outpouring of love for Shane couldn’t be held in anymore, when the wake gatecrashed the funeral mass & it was beautiful! Shane’s spirit was there for the world to see. Just how he wanted it - pure, spontaneous, celebratory, rebellious joy & love 💚✊🏻

— Andy Nolan (@AndyNolanBCS) December 12, 2023

Fr. Paddy McCafferty, parish priest of the Corpus Christi parish in West Belfast, was not impressed with the funeral.

“It was an abuse of what mass is and what the Catholic funeral liturgy is all about,” the priest recently told Belfast Live.

“The introduction of all these elements into that funeral mass frankly was a scandal and it shouldn’t have happened.

“If they wanted to have that sort of event they could have hired a hall somewhere and did all that.

“He was a good man in his own way and he was entitled to a funeral mass as every baptized Catholic is.

“But all of that stuff should have been kept out of the mass, there is no place for that in the mass at all.

“It was an abuse of the liturgy and it showed a completely askew understanding of what we actually are doing when we celebrate a funeral mass.”

— The Pogues (@poguesofficial) December 8, 2023

Fr McCafferty took particular issue with the "Fairytale of New York" performance, saying the singing of it after Holy Communion was "totally out of place."

“The words that are used in that song and in the church showed no understanding of the sacredness of what the place is and the holiness of the mass," Fr McCafferty said.

“It was completely inappropriate to say the least, to the point of scandal and something needs to be done about these so-called celebrity funerals in a Catholic church. If people don’t want that then go somewhere else.

“I watched maybe a couple of minutes and thought my goodness, I couldn’t watch any more of that.

“We’re not there to entertain, we’re there to celebrate the worship of God and lead people in the worship of God. I wouldn’t allow that in my church.”

While the funeral service has received some criticism, many others described the funeral as a whole, including the "Fairytale of New York" performance, as a "beautiful" tribute to MacGowan, describing it as a fitting celebration of his life. 

"This seems the most wonderful way to be memorialized: with your friends and loved ones laughing and singing and dancing because of some beauty you managed in your time on Earth," one social media user commented. 

"Absolutely beautiful. Hansard is so talented. A fitting farewell to the great poet," said another.

Plus: Glen Hansard and Lisa O’Neill perform ‘Fairytale of New York’ as a reflection after Communion.

Can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever seen dancing in the aisles at a funeral…

— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) December 8, 2023

Meanwhile, MacGowan's widow Victoria Mary Clarke thanked MacGowan's "generous" friends, family, and fans for their support since his death on November 30. 

She added: "I love that so many of you are celebrating his music and his life and his warmth and compassion and grace and beauty and it is a powerful thing to witness."

MacGowan, 65, died at his home on November 30 following a long battle with illness. 

The Pogues frontman spent a week in intensive care last December after being diagnosed with encephalitis, a condition that causes swelling on the brain, and was hospitalized again in July this year after a period in the ICU.

He was discharged from hospital in mid-November but died peacefully at home shortly afterward. He is survived by his wife Victoria Mary Clarke, father Maurice, and sister Siobhan.