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‘Fairy Tale of New York’ Singer Shane McGowan from the Pogues Dies Aged 65

The artist was suffering from a prolonged period of poor health.

Image: Pogue Mahone

Irish singer-songwriter Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, best known for hits Fairytale of New York and A Pair of Brown Eyes, has died following a recent hospital stay.

MacGowan announced his diagnosis of encephalitis via Instagram video on New Year’s Eve last year. Understood to be a swelling of the brain, the condition is very serious and can be life-threatening.

The singer had also been using a wheelchair for eight years following a fall. Most recently, he was being treated for an infection in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin.

MacGowan’s wife, writer Victoria Mary Clarke, announced his death via an emotional statement on Instagram. She wrote, “Shane, who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams […] has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother, Therese.”

Clarke had been sharing updates regarding MacGowan’s health on social media. She shared an image on November 11th of her kissing MacGowan, who was lying in a hospital bed. Part of the caption read, “Stay tuned in to love no matter what is happening in your world.”

According to a statement shared to X on behalf of his family, MacGowan died at 3.30 am on the 30th of November. Prayers and the last rites were read during his passing.

Achievements

MacGowan was best known as the lead singer and founder of the Irish punk band The Pogues, shortened from the original name, Pogue Mahone. Fairytale of New York, released in 1988 and featuring Kirsty MacColl, reached number two in the UK Chart.

MacGowan was born to Irish immigrant parents. The President of Ireland, Micahel D. Higgins, remembers that MacGowan’s “words have connected Irish people all over the globe to their culture and history.” Irish politician Leo Varadkar says MacGowan’s songs “beautifully captured the Irish experience.”

In 2020, Magnolia Pictures released a documentary about MacGowan’s life. Crock Of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan, directed by Julien Temple, took a deep dive into the troubled artist’s life. Johnny Depp, MacGowan’s good friend, co-produced the documentary.

Tributes

Nick Cave granted MacGowan the title of “the greatest songwriter of his generation” in his emotional comments to Rolling Stone. Tim Burgess of The Charlatans similarly remembers the artist’s musical talent, as he took to X to hail MacGowan as “A lyrical genius.”

Peter “Spider” Stacy, bandmate to MacGowan in The Pogues, shared an old photograph of himself and the recently deceased star performing together onstage. In the caption, he wrote the quote, “‘‘O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done..’”

A Irish Rock n Roll Museum spokesperson told the Irish Mirror: “Shane MacGowan has always been a key artist featured in our tour content […] His music and accomplishments will continue to be shared by us with visitors worldwide.” They will open a book of condolences for the singer, in which visitors can share their memories of him.

Written By

Madison Collier (she/her) is a current finalist reading for BA English Language and Literature at Oxford University. Madison writes on news, culture, and entertainment, but specialises in music and identity.

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