- 30 Nov 23
"You gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music," Victoria Mary Clarke has written in a tribute to her husband. "You will live in my heart forever."
Legendary singer and songwriter Shane MacGowan has died aged 65, his family have confirmed in a statement today.
The Pogues icon died peacefully at 3am this morning, November 30, with his wife and family by his side.
"I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it," Shane's wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, wrote on social media today. "Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.
"I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures," she continued. "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 for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music. You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much. You meant the world to me."
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Shane was released from St Vincents last week, after spending five months in hospital. He is survived by his wife Victoria, his sister Siobhan, his father Maurice, family, extended family, and a large circle of friends.
Born in Kent to Irish immigrants on Christmas Day 1957, Shane was deeply connected to his Irish heritage from a young age.
The Pogues – formed out of the ashes of Shane's former bands, The Nipple Erectors and The Millwall Chainsaws – changed the face of Irish music forever, when they emerged in the early '80s.
As Niall Stokes wrote in our special celebration of the band in the current issue of Hot Press, "The Pogues grappled their way into proper existence just as the London punk scene finally ran aground. They were determined to try something completely original and they did. With Shane MacGowan as the lyrical driving force, they looked, first and foremost, to the Irish music that the lead singer and main songwriter had grown up with. In all sorts of ways, that was a brave move."
They released their debut studio album, Red Roses For Me, in October 1984, followed by the iconic, Elvis Costello-produced record Rum Sodomy & The Lash in 1985. Their third album, If I Should Fall From Grace with God, produced by Steve Lillywhite, arrived in 1988, and included the world-conquering 'Fairytale Of New York' – which has gone on to become one of the most beloved Christmas songs of all time.
"This is desperately sad news for anyone who loves Irish music,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. "There is no doubt that Shane MacGowan was one of the all-time great songwriters – and will be remembered as such.
"We have been looking again at the extraordinary genius of The Pogues music, both preparing a planned seasonal exhibition for EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum that we titled They Gave The Walls Talking, and putting together a special on Shane and the band for our Christmas issue of Hot Press. Sifting through all of that, it was really striking the extent to which some of the greatest songwriters in the world looked up to Shane MacGowan.
“That was for very good reason. Everyone knows ‘Fairytale of New York’, of course, which is a magnificent record – but it is just the tip of the iceberg. The narrative power of songs like ’The Old Main Drag’ and ’The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn’ is utterly extraordinary. Speaking to us for our Christmas issue, Nick Cave, who is such a brilliant wordsmith himself, paid hugely eloquent tribute to Shane, hailing him as the greatest songwriter of his generation – and listening to songs like that afresh, you can tell exactly why.
“No one wrote about people on the margins of society as well as Shane. There is a deep sense of compassion and love of humanity in his work, which gives it a unique emotional power. There is also a wonderful poetic quality to his use of language. In another lovely interview, his sister Siobhan remembers how she used to recite the end of the James Joyce story The Dead with Shane, when they were young – and that engagement with Irish literature came through brilliantly in the songs he wrote. He truly was one of a kind – an exceptional and courageous talent, who has hugely influenced the course of Irish music, and whose songs will still be sung in fifty and a hundred years time.
“Our heart goes out to his wonderful partner Victoria Mary Clarke, to his sister Siobhan and his father Maurice – and to all of the extended Pogues clan."
The Pogues currently star on the cover of the new issue of Hot Press – to coincide with an upcoming exhibition celebrating Shane and the band at EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum, in Dublin. Nick Cave, one of the contributors to the issue, stated that, even before he first met Shane in the late '80s, he looked up to him as "a hero".
"I really felt that he was the great songwriter of my generation," he remarked. "I thought he was, as a songwriter, head and shoulders above everybody else."