Irish singers Glen Hansard and Lisa O’Neill led the interpretation of the bittersweet Christmas ballad as hundreds of people packed St Mary of the Rosary Church in the town of Nenagh in Tipperary, MacGowan’s ancestral home county.
The pair previously sang the classic in 2018 at MacGowan’s 60th birthday celebrations, and the latest take prompted dancing in the church and was met with a standing ovation at the end.
MacGowan died on November 30 at the age of 65 after a lifetime of drinking, carousing and writing songs that infused Irish traditional music with the spirit of punk.
Fairytale of New York, which also features Kirsty MacColl, is expected to be this year’s Christmas number one in the UK for the first time, having previously peaked at number two.
Mourners at the service included former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Irish actor Aidan Gillen, who both gave readings. There was also a recorded reading from Bono of U2.
Musicians including Nick Cave and Imelda May performed several of MacGowan’s songs during the service. Johnny Depp, a friend of the musician, was among those who helped lead the prayers.
Father Pat Gilbert welcomed “the world of people this great man influenced, encouraged, entertained and touched” to the service, which was broadcast live on television and online.
The priest said MacGowan’s “raw, vibrant, energetic, earthy soul-filled expression gave us hope and heart and hankering”.
At the front of the Catholic church, the singer’s casket was heaped with red roses, alongside a black-and-white photo of a youthful MacGowan. Friends and bandmates carried up symbols of MacGowan’s life, including a Led Zeppelin record, a copy of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, a DVD of The Godfather, a statue of the Virgin Mary and a Buddha.
Earlier crowds applauded as a horse-drawn carriage bore MacGowan’s coffin, draped in an Irish flag, through the streets of Dublin. Born in England to Irish parents, MacGowan earlier this year spent a number of months in intensive care.