- 08 Feb 24
The exhibition, curated by Hot Press and currently running at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, in Dublin, Ireland, illuminates the evolution of The Pogues, the rise of punk rock and the role of the Irish diaspora on the British music scene. Its upcoming run in The Bob Dylan Center has been warmly applauded by President Michael D. Higgins.
The exhibition They Gave The Walls A Talking: The Extraordinary Story of The Pogues and Shane MacGowan will have its United States premiere with an exclusive showing at the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, beginning March 8.
The exhibition was curated by Niall Stokes, leading Irish music writer and editor of Hot Press. It features contributions from family members, band members and more, including Victoria Mary Clarke, Siobhan MacGowan, Jem Finer, Nick Cave, Imelda May, Glen Hansard, producer Steve Lillywhite and the family of the late Frank Murray, the band’s original manager.
GREATEST SONGWRITER OF THEM ALL
Exclusive to the Tulsa run, the exhibit will include rare material selected by MacGowan’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke. Taken from the The Eternal Buzz and the Crock of Gold, the selections include never-before-seen or published illustrations, drawings, lyrics, stories and snippets dating back to his childhood, and journeying through six decades of punk and Irish revelry.
'They Gave The Walls A Talking' opened in December 2023 at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, shortly after the death of The Pogues' co-founder, primary songwriter and frontman, Shane MacGowan. Head of Exhibitions and Progammes at EPIC, Nathan Mannion, commented “We take immense pride in highlighting the stories and accomplishments of Irish emigrants, demonstrating that Irish identity transcends the geographical boundaries of our island. With that in mind, we commissioned this special exhibition to celebrate one of the greatest transnational Irish bands of all time.”
The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who was among the mourners at MacGowan’s funeral, expressed his support for the launch of the exhibition at The Bob Dylan Centre.
“Shane MacGowan was one of the greatest ever Irish songwriters,” President Higgins said. “I was honoured to present him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Dublin’s National Concert Hall in January 2018. The resonance of Shane’s words was reflected in the extraordinary outpouring of warmth which followed his death last November. One of the hallmarks of Shane’s writing was his intrinsic understanding of the vital importance of bringing a poetic sensibility to those wonderful, evocative songs of his. These are qualities that he shared with Bob Dylan, whose exceptional body of work rightly saw him being awarded the Nobel Prize In Literature in 2016.”
Shane MacGowan’s unique standing in Irish music was emphasised by the curator of the exhibiition, Niall Stokes of Hot Press.
"The Pogues really were one of the greatest Irish bands of all time – and Shane MacGowan was one of our most brilliant and widely loved songwriters,” Niall Stokes said. “As anyone who saw them live knows, The Pogues made a magnificent racket, bringing the rambunctious spirit and energy of punk rock to Irish folk and traditional music. But it was the peerless lyrics, written mostly by Shane, that gave their music its irresistible, unforgettable, emotional heft.
“It’s these qualities which make it feel so right that the exhibition 'They Gave The Walls A Talking' is having its US premiere in The Bob Dylan Centre in Tulsa. Bob Dylan is the greatest songwriter of them all, achieving an unparalleled mastery of the art and craft of songwriting, and producing a vast repertoire of songs of immense power and beauty over the sixty years he has been at the forefront of contemporary music.
"It is a testament to the greatness of Shane MacGowan that we can say, without fear of contradiction, that this is the artistic company that he should be seen in. The music of The Pogues and Shane MacGowan will live on after the vast majority of us are long forgotten. Shane truly was one of a kind.”
70 MILLION STRONG GLOBAL COMMUNITY
Shane MacGowan’s passing led to an outpouring of emotion from music fans around the world, and his funeral procession through the streets of Dublin was broadcast live in Ireland. Artists and songwriters such as Bono, Tom Waits and Nick Cave paid tribute to MacGowan’s talents, with Bruce Springsteen stating, “I don’t know about the rest of us, but they’ll be singing Shane’s songs 100 years from now.”
There will be a VIP members-only opening event on March 7, featuring exhibit curator Niall Stokes, editor of Hot Press, and Victoria Mary Clarke in conversation with writer Anne Margaret Daniel. On March 8, Clarke will appear at a special public screening of Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan, the 2020 documentary directed by Julien Temple and produced by Johnny Depp. The film will be shown in the Darby Family Screening Room at the Bob Dylan Center. Ticket information will be available soon.
Bob Dylan Center Director Steven Jenkins said the center adjusted its planned exhibit schedule to accommodate They Gave The Walls A Talking. “As a tribute to Shane, the band’s remarkable artistry and a celebration of Irish music and culture, we thought it was important to bring this exhibit to the United States in time for St. Patrick’s Day,” Jenkins said.
The Pogues combined rowdy punk rock with traditional Irish music to create some of the most dynamic and memorable songs of the 1980s and ‘90s. Their best-known song in the U.S. is the Christmas ballad ‘Fairytale of New York’. Other Pogues’ classics include ‘The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn, ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’, ‘Rainy Night in Soho’, ‘If I Should Fall from Grace with God’, ‘Misty Morning, Albert Bridge’ and the Ewan MacColl cover ‘Dirty Old Town’.
The exhibit How Many Roads: Bob Dylan and His Changing Times, 1961-64, which had been planned for a February opening at the center, will now open on May 24, following the run of the Pogues exhibit.
Since its opening in May 2022, the Bob Dylan Center has welcomed guests from all 50 states and some 30 countries around the world.
The center has garnered numerous design awards and accolades from publications including the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Variety, Uncut and Mojo.
“EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum exists to advance human connections through the compelling and ongoing stories of the Irish diaspora,” Aileesh Carew, CEO of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum said.
"Our diaspora is a rich tapestry made up of many different voices and exhibitions like 'They Gave the Walls a Talking' help us to shine a light on the lives of the many remarkable people, like Shane MacGowan and the Irish members of the Pogues, who make up that 70 million strong global community.
"As thousands of Irish-Americans make their way to Tulsa to celebrate this year’s Irish festival and St. Patrick’s Day, I have no doubt this special exhibition will serve to strengthen both their sense of connection with their identity and their pride in their Irish heritage.”
AND MORE ON THIS STORY!
Full Statement from President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins:
“Shane MacGowan was one of the greatest ever Irish songwriters,” President Higgins said. “I was honoured to present him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Dublin’s National Concert Hall in January 2018. The resonance of Shane’s words was reflected in the extraordinary outpouring of warmth which followed his death last November. One of the hallmarks of Shane’s writing was his intrinsic understanding of the vital importance of bringing a poetic sensibility to those wonderful, evocative songs of his. These are qualities that he shared with Bob Dylan, whose exceptional body of work rightly saw him being awarded the Nobel Prize In Literature in 2016.
“It is therefore so appropriate that the exhibition They Gave The Walls A Talking: The Extraordinary Story of The Pogues and Shane MacGowan – curated by Hot Press and currently running at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin – will receive its international premiere at The Bob Dylan Centre in Tulsa, in March. It is a testament to the importance of The Pogues and Shane MacGowan’s ground-breaking marriage of punk rock and folk music that this will be the first ever non-Bob Dylan exhibition to feature at The Bob Dylan Center. I warmly applaud Niall Stokes and everyone involved in making this landmark collaboration between The Bob Dylan Center, Hot Press and EPIC happen.”
Full Statement from Aileesh Carew, CEO of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum:
“EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum exists to advance human connections through the compelling and ongoing stories of the Irish diaspora.
For centuries, our emigrants brought Irish culture to the four corners of the world, and this has had a transformative effect on how we understand Irishness and how the world views Ireland. It has also helped our diaspora maintain an emotional connection with their homeland and influenced other musical, literary and poetic traditions across the globe. Our diaspora is a rich tapestry made up of many different voices and exhibitions like ‘They Gave the Walls a Talking’ help us to shine a light on the lives of the many remarkable people, like Shane MacGowan and the Pogues, who make up that 70 million strong global community.
As thousands of Irish Americans make their way to Tulsa to celebrate this year’s Irish festival and St. Patrick’s Day, I have no doubt this special exhibition will serve to strengthen both their sense of connection with their identity and their pride in their Irish heritage.”
About the Bob Dylan Center
The Bob Dylan Center inspires and celebrates fearless creativity by exploring the music and artistry of the Nobel Prize–winning singer-songwriter as a catalyst for personal expression and cultural change.
As the primary public venue for the Bob Dylan Archive® collection, the center curates and exhibits a priceless collection of more than 100,000 items spanning Dylan’s career, including handwritten manuscripts, notebooks and correspondence; films, videos, photographs and artwork; memorabilia and ephemera; personal documents and effects; unreleased studio and concert recordings; musical instruments and many other elements.
About EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum was created to honour the Irish diaspora abroad and recognise the vital contributions and monumental impact Irish people have made worldwide. By combining personal emigrant perspectives with social and cultural context, visitors can understand why a person left Ireland and the beliefs and heritage they brought with them.
Since it opened in Dublin in 2016, it has shared how Irish emigrants and their descendants, the Irish diaspora, have contributed to communities throughout the world and continue to do so, through its exhibitions, education programmes and digital engagement.
About Hot Press
Launched in 1977, Hot Press was identified by Billboard Magazine as being been central to the extraordinary success of Irish music internationally over the past 47 years. The magazine was a crucial early supporter of U2, putting them on the cover when their debut EP was released in 1979, and making the connection for the band with the man who became their manager, Paul McGuinness.
Hot Press editor Niall Stokes did the interview for what was the band’s first ever cover story – and has gone on to write a number of books about U2. Hot Press was similarly pioneering in its coverage of artists like Sinead O’Connor, Enya, The Cranberries and many more – up to and including Hozier – and always enjoyed a uniquely close working relationship with The Pogues and Shane MacGowan, who appeared on the cover of Hot Press eight times. In 2024, Hot Press enjoys a closer working than ever with the extraordinary wave of young artists emerging in Ireland, having invited 240 artists and bands to perform in the Hot Press Y&E Series of Instagram shows between 2021 and 2023, in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and through the creation of Irish Music Month, in partnership with 25 independent Irish Radio Stations.
Since its inception, in addition to its tireless support for Irish artists in music, literature and film, among other disciplines, Hot Press has been an unstinting advocate for freedom of expression and the equality agenda in all its forms, including for women’s rights; LGBTQI+ rights; abortion rights; the separation of Church and State; removing the stigma from mental health issues – and against all forms of racism, bigotry and prejudice.