President of Ireland leads tributes following death of ‘musical genius’ Shane MacGowan

President of Ireland leads tributes following death of ‘musical genius’ Shane MacGowan

IRELAND’S President Michael D Higgins has led the tributes following the death of Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan.

“Like so many across the world, it was with the greatest sadness that I learned this morning of the death of Shane MacGowan,” he said.

“Shane will be remembered as one of music’s greatest lyricists,” the President added, in a statement released this afternoon, after MacGowan’s family confirmed the 65-year-old had died at his home in Dublin at 3am this morning.

“So many of his songs would be perfectly crafted poems, if that would not have deprived us of the opportunity to hear him sing them,” President Higgins added.

Shane MacGowan pictured performing at the Barclaycard British Summer Time Concert in Hyde Park, London in 2014

MacGowan, who was born in 1957 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, to Irish parents, was the lead singer of the Pogues, which he founded in Kings Cross, London in 1982.

The band reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s, recording several hit albums and singles, and achieved further global success with their Christmas hit Fairytale of New York, which they released with Kirsty MacColl in 1987.

That single reached Number 1 in the Irish charts and Number two in the British charts that year.

Shane McGowan (L) pictured with London-based Irish promoter Vince Power at Le Pigalle Club, a 1940s-inspired supper club, in 2006

“The genius of Shane’s contribution includes the fact that his songs capture within them, as Shane would put it, the measure of our dreams - of so many worlds, and particularly those of love, of the emigrant experience and of facing the challenges of that experience with authenticity and courage, and of living and seeing the sides of life that so many turn away from,” President Higgins said.

“His words have connected Irish people all over the globe to their culture and history, encompassing so many human emotions in the most poetic of ways,” he added.

MacGowan’s artistic talent was nurtured from a young age by his mother Therese, who was an award-winning folk singer in her own right.

Shane MacGowan poses with his award at The Meteor Ireland Music Awards 2006

She died in a car accident on New Year’s Day in 2017, and MacGowan was always open about how she inspired him.

“Born on Christmas Day, there was perhaps some form of destiny which led Shane to writing ‘Fairytale of New York’,” the President said today.

“The timeless quality of which will surely mean that it will be listened to every Christmas for the next century or more.

“Likewise songs like ‘Rainy Night in Soho’, ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’, ‘If I Should Fall from Grace with God’ and so many others will live on far into the years and decades to come.”

Shane MacGowan performs during a concert at the Zitadelle in Berlin, Germany in 2010

Mr Higgins also highlighted the song Haunted, a duet between MacGowan and fellow Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, who died in July, which was released in 1995.

“I think too of ‘Haunted’, and the particular poignancy that both Shane and Sinéad O’Connor have left us in such quick succession,” he said.

The President went on to recall some of his own highlights in meeting MacGowan over the years.

“It was a great honour for me, as President of Ireland, to present Shane with a lifetime achievement award in the National Concert Hall in January 2018 as we marked his 60th birthday," he said.

“A richly deserved honour."

He added: “On behalf of Sabina and I, may I extend my deepest condolences to Shane’s wife Victoria, his sister Siobhán, his father Maurice, his bandmates in the Pogues and other projects, and to all his many friends and family.”

After confirming his death this morning, MacGowan’s family have requested “privacy at this time”.

Further details are due to be announced.