From America to the Abbey for a fairytale come true

THAT morning before Christmas, Siobhan McCann was in America.

That evening she was in the Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town.

The Letterkenny woman was coming home for Christmas in 2009.


The College Farm Road native had emigrated to Boston over a decade before in 1997.

Jet-lagged when she arrived into Letterkenny, her family were there to meet her.

But some of them were on a mission too that evening.

They were heading through the Gap to a very special concert in Donegal Town.

Siobhan was only in the door at home when she decided to head away with the crew.

This week the Donegal News caught up with Siobhan on the other side of the pond as she recalled the night when a group of McCanns and their McLaughlin cousins headed to Donegal Town to see Shane McGowan in concert.

Siobhan hasn’t lost one ounce of her Letterkenny accent despite spending so long living in the States.


“They’re great memories to have,” she said this week.

“Shane was just lovely and it’s brilliant to be able to think back and remember seeing him in concert and then to meet him afterwards.”

The Pogues frontman passed away last Thursday and his funeral will take place in Tipperary tomorrow.

One particular gig in The Grill in Letterkenny and a house party back in College Farm Road are part of local folklore.

The story goes that Siobhan’s mother Mary, in her native Limerick accent, had a few stern words with Shane wondering if he wouldn’t go a bit easier on the old drink!

Less was known of the night the Mc Canns and McLaughlins headed to the Abbey.

Alex McGinley was with them.

The Letterkenny man was a very well respected sound technician who worked with the Mary Black Band in his day.

In the Abbey that night Sharon Shannon and Munday were appearing and Shane McGowan was the special guest.

As Siobhan recalls, it was great to be there.

“It was brilliant to be invited backstage and then on to the after party,” she added.

A cousin of the McCanns, Conor McLaughlin also got into the late night party and they all got their pictures taken with the singer.

Siobhan remembers that Christmas with pride.

After all, it’s not every year you get home to Donegal and end up sitting and having a drink with Shane McGowan in the wee small hours in the Abbey Hotel.

These days Siobhan and her partner Eddie, her son Shane and stepson Aidan live forty minutes from Boston city centre.

They will always be big fans of The Pogues and in a week when fans have been paying their own tributes to the singer, Siobhan has been imagining her late father Seamus and Shane meeting up – and Seamus forgiving the singer for pinning a bottle of his best whiskey all those years ago in College Farm Road.

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