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At Home With... Shane MacGowan
Colm O’Hare visits the Donnybrook home of the creator of perhaps the greatest ever Christmas song, Shane MacGowan.
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 10 Dec 2007
Let’s face it – Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the majestic sound of The Pogues’ classic ‘Fairytale Of New York’ wafting through the airwaves. Not only is it regularly voted best Christmas song of all time – it’s without doubt one of the finest Irish songs ever recorded. Astonishing though it might seem, it celebrates twenty years as a Christmas classic this year.
“It certainly feels like twenty fucking years ago to me,” cackles the song’s creator, the irrepressible Shane MacGowan. “It comes out every year – it’s out on a Christmas hits album again this year. But that’s what musicians try and achieve, isn’t it? It’s always a buzz to hear your music on the radio. After twenty years it’s an even bigger buzz.”
We find The Pogues frontman in surprisingly good form on this seasonably cold day, sat in the kitchen of the Dublin abode he shares with long-time partner and journalist Victoria Mary Clarke. The typically red-bricked, bay-windowed Donnybrook house is neat and homely, the only tell-tale signs of the occupants being a Gibson acoustic guitar standing against a wall and a large cardboard box of, er, “empties” in the corner of the kitchen. Though he calls the farm in Tipperary where he grew up home these days, he spends much of his time in Dublin, as he explains:
“I try to get back to Tipperary whenever I manage to get out of this frigging city. I used to like Dublin a lot. My father’s from Dublin and he doesn’t like it anymore either. But at least it’s in Ireland – and it’s still my favourite capital city. It’s too developed. The city was blasted twice in the last century and there’s still time for it to be blasted to bits again, only this time let’s blast all the new buildings – not the old ones (laughs).”
Presumably life is much quieter down the country compared with life in the capital?
“No, it’s far more exciting,” he contradicts. “For a start nobody gives a damn about the laws on drinking or smoking, which suits me fine. And nobody gives a damn about the poitin laws either which are still on the statute books, it’s ridiculous.”