Rust in Peace, Iron Lady

Maggie gets a big send-off.

Maggie gets a big send-off.

Pallbearers usually don’t grin as if they’ve just won the lottery, but these were not just any pallbearers, and the deceased was not just any stiff.

Saturday afternoon, with the obligatory piper blasting out patriotic Irish tunes, several “mourners” toted a silver casket through the dining room of the Red Rooster in Northeast Philadelphia and unceremoniously dropped it down onto a couple of chairs in front of the stage.

The casket was actually a much lighter Halloween decoration version of the real thing, and probably a good thing. It was much too flimsy to have held the remains of Margaret Thatcher, the late but still universally reviled former British prime minister, who died in early April.

Let’s just say the Iron Lady was there in spirit, and have done with it.

The mood inside the pub was celebratory, which is exactly what “fake wake” organizer and well-known local musician Fintan Malone wanted.

And he’s wanted it for a long time.

Malone first broached the subject six or seven years ago, when he was playing at the Shanachie Pub in Ambler, owned by friend and fellow musician Gerry Timlin.

“I said to him, when Maggie Thatcher kicks the bucket, would you think about hosting the wake? He said it was a great idea.”

The Shanachie has long since closed, so Malone was casting about for an alternative pub. He settled on the popular Red Rooster. “It was all a rush thing,” Malone said. “We didn’t have time to get it into the Irish Edition, and the Red Rooster already had a band booked for that afternoon.”

Malone worked with the pub to get the band rescheduled, and then he lined up some friends to play for several hours. The acts included the Celtic Connection, singer Terry Kane, the Bogside Rogues, and more.

Obviously, there was never any love lost between local Irish and the late Mrs. Thatcher. Suffice to say Fintan Malone was not the president of her fan club.

“I’ve been an Irish republican all my life,” Malone says, “so I suppose you could call this more of a celebration than a wake.”

If you couldn’t be there for the festivities, fear not. We have photos. (Above.) And our friend Jim Loque shot a pretty nice video for us. (Below.)

Author: Jeff Meade

Jeff is one of the founding editors of irishphiladelphia.com. More details.

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