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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Shane MacGowan, Pogues Frontman, Dies at 65

The passing of Shane MacGowan, the frontman and songwriter of The Pogues, has been announced. He was 65 and had been unwell for an extended period.

The Pogues shared a statement on social media expressing their profound sorrow: “With the deepest of sorrow and heaviest of hearts, we announce the departure of Shane MacGowan. Shane peacefully passed away at 3 am this morning, surrounded by his wife Victoria and family.”

Having undergone treatment at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin for several months, MacGowan was discharged on November 22 and returned home to spend quality time with friends and family.

Known for leading the Irish punk band in the 1980s, MacGowan and The Pogues gained fame for their iconic festive song “Fairytale Of New York,” which was released in 1987.

In an Instagram post, Victoria Mary Clarke, MacGowan’s wife, expressed her indescribable loss: “There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for your presence in this world; you made it so very bright and gave so much joy to so many people with your heart, soul, and music. You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden, all wet with rain you loved so much.”

In a statement, President Michael D Higgins paid homage to MacGowan, lauding him as “one of the greatest lyricists in the realm of music.”

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President Higgins remarked that many of MacGowan’s “songs could be considered impeccably crafted poems, although that would have deprived us of the opportunity to experience the expressive power of his singing.

“His lyrics have forged connections among Irish people worldwide, delving into their culture and history, articulating a myriad of human emotions with poetic finesse.

He went on to express, “On behalf of Sabina and myself, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Shane’s wife, Victoria, his sister Siobhán, his father, Maurice, his fellow musicians in the Pogues and other ventures, as well as to the extensive circle of friends and family mourning his loss.”

Hailing from Kent, MacGowan spent a significant portion of his childhood immersed in his mother’s family’s folk and traditional music in Co Tipperary.

At 13, he demonstrated exceptional aptitude in English literature, earning a scholarship to a secondary school, although he did not complete his secondary education.

During the 1970s, he became notable in London’s punk scene, adopting the moniker ‘Shane O’Hooligan’ and founding the band The Nipple Erectors, also known as the Nips.

In subsequent years, he joined forces with Jem Finer and Spider Stacey, forming the band initially known as Pogue Mahone, later evolving into the renowned Pogues group.

The Pogues skillfully blended MacGowan’s punk roots with his deep understanding of Irish folk music, resulting in a distinctive sound that resonated strongly, particularly with a youthful, Irish audience based in London.

They debuted with the album “Red Roses for Me” in 1984, embarking on widespread tours that included performances alongside artists like Elvis Costello. Their second album, “Rum Sodomy and the Lash,” garnered both commercial success and critical acclaim for its fusion of timeless folk tunes, such as “Dirty Old Town,” and MacGowan’s innovative compositions.

In 1987, a bet challenging MacGowan to create a Christmas song led to the creation of the band’s most significant hit, “Fairytale of New York,” featuring a duet with the late Kirsty MacColl.

The demanding schedule of constant touring and the band’s frenetic lifestyle began to take a toll, leading to MacGowan parting ways with the band in 1991. He embarked on a solo career and collaborated with a new band, The Popes. However, he eventually reunited with The Pogues in 2001.

As the 2010s unfolded, MacGowan’s health started to decline, rendering him unable to perform. In 2018, a celebration was held at the National Concert Hall to commemorate his 60th birthday. Renowned artists such as Bono, Sinéad O’Connor, Nick Cave, and Glen Hansard paid tribute, and President Michael D Higgins honored MacGowan with a lifetime achievement award.

In 2018, MacGowan tied the knot with his longtime partner, Victoria Mary Clarke.

Throughout the Covid lockdowns, she meticulously assembled a collection of his lyrics and drawings, a creative endeavor spanning decades. This resulted in the release of a limited-edition book titled “The Eternal Buzz and the Crock of Gold” in late 2022.

Shane MacGowan is remembered by his wife Victoria, his father Maurice, and his sister Siobhán.

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