NYPD Choir sing Galway Bay in honour of Pogues’ classic Fairytale of New York

NYPD Choir sing Galway Bay in honour of Pogues’ classic Fairytale of New York

A GROUP of retired New York Police Department (NYPD) officers have recorded a rendition of the classic Irish song Galway Bay.

The former policemen, who all have Irish heritage, were gathered by the team at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum for a special Christmas project designed to celebrate the Irish diaspora across the globe.

With the festive season fast approaching, the museum decided to pay homage to one of the greatest Christmas songs ever recorded, which also happens to be a global Irish emigration anthem.

The Pogues’ hit Fairytale of New York was originally released as a single on November 23, 1987.

Since then, it has annually topped the most played and most loved Christmas song lists and has racked up more than 325million listens on Spotify and over 87million on YouTube.

A group of retired NYPD officers recorded the song

It is sung as a duet by Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl, who died in 2000, aged 41.

In the chorus, MacGowan sings “the boys of the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay”.

This week the team at EPIC revealed that choir never existed, stating: “Very few people realise there never was an NYPD choir, nor did they ever sing Galway Bay.”

But they have now rectified that, by inviting 36 former NYPD officers to come together to sing the 1927 song, which was written by Irish emigrant Arthur Nicholas Colahan as a tribute to his homeland.

Filming underway as the track was recorded

"At EPIC, we take immense pride in highlighting the stories and accomplishments of Irish emigrants, demonstrating that Irish identity transcends the geographical boundaries of our island,” EPIC CEO Aileesh Carew said.

“With that in mind, what better way to celebrate this than by giving life to that famous line in Fairytale of New York, performed by retired NYPD officers, all of whom proudly share Irish heritage.”

She added: “This Christmas, we hope that the NYPD Choir's rendition of 'Galway Bay' will be shared far and wide, both at home and abroad."

The track, which was recorded last month, is now available to listen to in Spotify and You Tube and there is also a music video to accompany it.

Retired NYPD Officer John Behan was one of the men who joined the choir for the Christmas project.

Galway bay is a song well known to him and his family, he said.

“My grandfather used to play it at Christmas time, that was a song that he liked,” he admitted.

“He was a tough guy but he got soft when that music came on. He was a good man.”

Retired NYPD officers came together to record the song

In keeping with the theme of this project, next month EPIC will launch a new exhibition at their Dublin base, titled They Gave The Walls a Talking - The extraordinary story of The Pogues and Shane MacGowan.

Developed in collaboration with Hot Press and running until the end of January 2024, the exhibition delves into numerous themes related to the iconic Irish band, including songs of emigration and the creation of Fairytale of New York.

Commenting on the exhibition, Nathan Mannion, Head of Exhibitions & Programmes at EPIC said: “The Pogues are one of the greatest Irish bands of all time.

“They were part of an increasingly successful wave of Irish emigrant artists who made it big in Britain in the 1980’s and They Gave the Walls a Talking charts the marvellously wild, fiercely fiery, sometimes drunken and – in the end – wonderfully inspiring contribution The Pogues have made to music in Ireland and across the world.”

The Pogues Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, who first released the song in 1987

Niall Stokes, Editor of Hot Press added: "The Pogues’ music was – and remains – utterly unique.

“They took Irish folk and traditional music, shook it up to make it fizz like mad and injected into it a powerful punk spirit, and a wild Irish sense of abandon. But that was only the start of it.

“Within five years, the band had written some of the greatest songs ever about the experience of being Irish.”

He added: “It has been an enormous pleasure revisiting all of that musical magic and mayhem in preparing this pop-up exhibition, to which we have given the title They Gave The Walls A Talking.”

Watch the NYPD choir sing Galway Bay...

You can listen to the NYPD Choir’s ‘Galway Bay’ on Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you stream your music.

Visit www.epicchq.com to find out more about the exhibition.


Fairytale of New York’ was originally released as a single on November 23, 1987. It later featured on the Pogues' 1988 album ‘If I Should Fall from Grace with God.’

MacGowan named the song after J. P. Donleavy's 1973 novel, ‘A Fairy Tale of New York’.

The video for the song was directed by Peter Dougherty and filmed in New York in November 1987.

In his book Crock of Gold, Shane MacGowan said of his music career: “God looked down on this little cottage in Ireland and said that little boy there, he’s the little boy that I’m going to use to save Irish music… ‘cause God is Irish.”

On the emigrant position of the band, he added: “The Pogues could never have happened in Ireland. The Pogues needed to happen from the diaspora.”