Shane MacGowan, The Pogues’ frontman and singer-songwriter, dies aged 65

Death of Fairytale of New York singer Shane MacGowan: Victoria Mary Clarke says the ‘measure of her dreams’ has died

Shane MacGowan has died.

Singer and songwriter Shane MacGowan has died at the age of 65. He was best known as the frontman of The Pogues, whose single Fairytale of New York has become a Christmas staple.

MacGowan’s death comes after a prolonged period of ill health, including time spent in intensive care. The singer had been using a wheelchair following a series of falls, including breaking his pelvis in 2015.

A statement on behalf of MacGowan’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke, his sister Siobhan and father Maurice read: “It is with the deepest sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our most beautiful, darling and dearly beloved Shane MacGowan. Shane died peacefully at 3.30am this morning with his wife and sister by his side. Prayers and the last rites were read during his passing.”

The statement, posted on the platform X, added: “Further details will be announced shortly but the family ask for privacy at this very sad time.”


In a separate post on Instagram, Victoria said the “love of her life” and the “measure of her dreams” had died.

“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 said.

“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.”

Tributes have been paid to the musician, with President Michael D Higgins saying in a statement that MacGowan would be remembered “as one of music’s greatest lyricists”.

The singer was born Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan on December 25th, 1957, in Pembury, Kent to Irish parents. His father was a Dublin native and his mother was from Co Tipperary, where he spent many summers in his youth.

In 1977, MacGowan became the vocalist and songwriter for The Nipple Erectors, later named The Nips, a punk band he formed with his then-girlfriend, Shanne Bradley. After The Nips broke up in 1980, MacGowan went on to form The Pogues.

The band were originally named Pogue Mahone, a play on the Irish phrase “póg mo thóin”, and was made up of MacGowan (vocals), Spider Stacy (vocals and tin whistle), Jem Finer (banjo), James Fearnley (accordion), Andrew Ranken (drums) and Cait O’Riordan (bass).

Following the release of their first album, Red Roses For Me, they were joined by former Radiators guitarist Philip Chevron.

After opening for The Clash on their 1984 tour, The Pogues rose to prominence with hits such as Dark Streets of London, a cover of Waxies’ Dargle and Boys from the County Hell. Their second album, Rum Sodomy & the Lash, produced by Elvis Costello, saw them move away from covers towards more originals, showcasing MacGowan’s obvious songwriting talents through songs like The Old Main Drag.

They grew in popularity over the next 10 years, releasing popular singles such as The Irish Rover with The Dubliners, and a cover of Ewan MacColl’s Dirty Old Town.

Their third album, If I Should Fall from Grace with God, featured one of their biggest hits, the duet Fairytale of New York alongside Kirsty MacColl, whodied aged 41 in 2000 in a jet-ski incident.

Released in 1987, the single hit number one in the Irish charts over Christmas that year and number two in the UK. It would become a Christmas perennial across Ireland and the UK.

In 1991, MacGowan was removed from The Pogues due to concerns over how his unreliability,hard-partying and erratic behaviour created difficulties for the band. He went on to form Shane MacGowan and The Popes,which lasted into the early 2000s. In 2001, the singer rejoined The Pogues and toured with the band until 2014, when the group broke up again.

MacGowan took part in various charitable efforts during this period, contributing to a cover of Perfect Day by Lou Reed that raised more than £2 million (€2.2 million) for the BBC’s Children in Need charity.

In 2018, MacGowan married Irish journalist Victoria Mary Clarke in Copenhagen, Denmark. The pair had been together for 32 years and engaged for 11 years.