It was a real Irish send-off for Senator Edward Kennedy as his coffin left Boston today in driving rain.

Thousands of mourners lined the streets to say farewell as the hearse carrying Kennedy left Boston's famous "Mission Church," Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, on Mission Hill in Roxbury.

As the motorcade left Boston people waved and cheered from under soaked umbrellas. Local bars and restaurants in the heavily Irish area were packed with people glued to the TV coverage.

There were so many people at an Irish bar called Flann's — just beyond the security cordon — that people were spilling out on the street.

The funeral capped an extraordinary couple of days in Boston which saw an unprecedented outpouring of grief for the late Senator.

More than 50,000 people waited for up to four hours to say farewell to Kennedy as his body lay in repose at the JFK library in South Boston Thursday evening and Friday.

The library stayed open until 3 a.m. Friday morning to accommodate the throngs who turned out to pay their respects.

Friday night saw an Irish-style wake at the library as friends and family gathered to celebrate Kennedy's life.

Mourners were handed a program that featured a quotation from Irish poet William Butler Yeats: "Think where man's glory begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends."

And then Saturday, the funeral mass which showcased Kennedy's public and private life.

Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen, represented Ireland along with Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Shaun Woodward, secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

Kennedy's son Teddy Jr. brought many in the congregation to tears when he described how his father helped him learn how to ski — despite the fact that Teddy Jr. had lost a leg to bone cancer.

Teddy Jr. said he burst into tears and cried that there was no way he could go out to play in the new snowfall at home in Washington D.C.

"I'll never be able to climb that hill," Teddy recalled.

"We're going to climb that hill together," his father said, "even if it takes us all day."

IrishCentral publisher Niall O'Dowd says that Kennedy Jnr's speech showed that a new Kennedy star has been born.