Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Tuesday, 19 August 2008 17:29 UK

Musical farewell to Dubliner Drew

Funeral of Ronnie Drew

Hundreds of mourners have attended the funeral of Irish folk musician Ronnie Drew in County Wicklow.

The founder of The Dubliners died on Saturday at the age of 73, having battled ill health for some time.

The Pogues' Shane MacGowan, U2 manager Paul McGuinness and representatives of President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Brian Cowan were among the mourners.

The service - which at times was more like a tribute concert - opened with a New Orleans-style jazz hymn.

A small screen was set up in the parish hall to relay the service to hundreds of people, with many more gathering around the outside of the Church of the Holy Rosary to listen through speakers.

Ronnie Drew
A tribute song to Ronnie Drew was recorded earlier this year

The Dubliners, Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains, blues musician Don Baker, songwriter Phil Coulter and singers Mary Coughlan and Eleanor Shanley all performed during the ceremony.

The congregation erupted into spontaneous applause on several occasions, as prayers and thanksgivings were interspersed with traditional airs, laments, jazz instrumentals as well as performances of folk songs made famous by Drew.

Drew's wife of more than 40 years, Deirdre, died last year. The couple lived in Greystones, County Wicklow.

He is survived by his two children and five grandchildren.


Ronnie Drew performs The Irish Rover with The Pogues on Top of the Pops in 1987

Earlier this year, members of U2 joined fellow Irish musicians Sinead O'Connor, Shane MacGowan, Christy Moore and others to record a tribute song The Ballad Of Ronnie Drew.

All profits from the release of the single went to the Irish Cancer Society.

Drew founded the Ronnie Drew Group in 1962, which later came to be known as The Dubliners.

The group included fellow Irish music legends Luke Kelly, Ciaran Bourke and Barney McKenna and they began by singing in O'Donoghues pub in Dublin city centre.

Kelly was known for singing their soulful ballads and Drew will be best remembered for his gravelly-voiced renditions of songs like Finnegan's Wake and Dicey Reilly.

Drew sang one of the band's biggest commercial hits, Seven Drunken Nights, and the band appeared on the BBC's Top of the Pops.

They later appeared again on the show with Shane MacGowan and the Pogues to perform the single The Irish Rover.

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