Shane MacGowan funeral: Mourners line the streets of Ireland ahead of funeral for the late Pogues singer after his death aged 65
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Shane MacGowan’s smiling widow gave a thumbs up and smiled broadly as the Pogues singer’s funeral got underway today, in front of thousands of well-wishers.

Victoria Clarke wanted a celebration of her husband’s life and the people of Dublin responded by giving the send off a party mood as they sang his most famous songs.

Police sealed off vast stretches of South Dublin to allow the remains of the Fairytale of New York singer to be seen by those who knew him and those who loved his music.

The hearse carrying Shane’s coffin which was draped in the Irish tricolour, left Nenagh, Trippery at breakfast time to make the 99-mile journey to Dublin, where he had lived with Victoria.

Although he was born in Kent, the singer’s childhood was in Nenagh, where his father and sister still live.

Shane’s coffin was carried in the back of a chariot puled by horses, and surrounded by police motorbike riders. A band led the cortege accompanied by a piper. A black and white picture of the singer adorned the casket.

Some mourners threw flowers in the path of the hearse as it made its way from Shelborne Greyhound Stadium to Dublin city. While the singer’s famous pal Johnny Depp and Nick Cave among those jetting in to pay their final respects to the Irish icon. 

After the procession, his coffin was being taken to Tipperary for his mass at Saint Mary’s of the Rosary church in Nenagh.

Thousands of well-wishers took to the streets honour the Pogues frontman

Thousands of well-wishers took to the streets honour the Pogues frontman 

MacGowan, who died last week at the age of 65 was one of Ireland's favourite sons despite being born in Kent. His casket is pictured in Dublin today

MacGowan, who died last week at the age of 65 was one of Ireland’s favourite sons despite being born in Kent. His casket is pictured in Dublin today 

MacGowan's smiling widow Victoria Mary Clarke gave a thumbs up and smiled broadly as the Pogue singer's funeral got underway today

MacGowan’s smiling widow Victoria Mary Clarke gave a thumbs up and smiled broadly as the Pogue singer’s funeral got underway today

Hundreds of fans line the streets in Dublin

Hundreds of fans line the streets in Dublin 

Hundreds of people have lined the streets to say farewell to Pogues star Shane MacGowan

Hundreds of people have lined the streets to say farewell to Pogues star Shane MacGowan 

It came days after MacGowan returned home after being released from hospital amid a battle with a brain condition, with his wife Victoria sharing a photo of him in his hospital bed

It came days after MacGowan returned home after being released from hospital amid a battle with a brain condition, with his wife Victoria sharing a photo of him in his hospital bed 

As the church is expected to be full, the service was being transmitted to local pubs and on the Internet.

Among those who turned out to pay respects was Marguerite Jennings, 54, who travelled from Galway. She said: ‘Shane was not only a pop star, he was also a top Irish poet. His work will never be forgotten.

‘And he was really down-to-earth. I bumped into him in a confectionery shop around 20 years ago in Carrickson-upon-Shannon and he was so friendly.

‘He was buying some cigarettes. But he turned round and spoke to everybody in the shop, including the children, and made us all laugh.

‘I’ll never forget his infectious laugh. I can hear it now. It’s no trouble at all for me to come to Dublin and pay my respects. He absolutely deserves it.’

Finlay Byrne, 63, said: ‘I once spent the night drinking with him. He was such amazing company.

‘He was really erudite. And a real man of literature. He just reeled off all the books that he was reading at that time.

‘He gave me the impression that the rockstar life was just a facade.

‘He was one of us. He was really shy and he was really God-fearing. I remember him kissing his crucifix and saying a wee prayer.

Another well-wisher Michela Dubber,51, said: ‘I’m glad that he’s getting a good sendoff. He has bought so much pride to the country. He was an incredible poet. His lyrics will live long after we have all gone.’

But the singer’s funeral turned out to be a bonus for a couple from Nottingam, who are in Dublin for a pre-Christmas weekend break.

Michelle Train and partner Richard Worley stumbled across the funeral and stopped to film it on Facebook. Ms Train was overheard looking into her phone and explaining who Shane MacGowan was to a friend.

MacGowan's widow Victoria Mary Clarke appeared cheerful at the outpouring of love for her late husband

MacGowan’s widow Victoria Mary Clarke appeared cheerful at the outpouring of love for her late husband 

Hundreds of people could be seen coming out in the streets of Dublin to pay their respects

Hundreds of people could be seen coming out in the streets of Dublin to pay their respects 

Music from the Irish legend's famous back catalogue played out as he passed through Dublin

Music from the Irish legend’s famous back catalogue played out as he passed through Dublin

Fans from across Ireland have travelled to Dublin to pay their respects. Pictured John Farrell outside Shelbourne Park Stadium

Fans from across Ireland have travelled to Dublin to pay their respects. Pictured John Farrell outside Shelbourne Park Stadium

A woman holds up a pint of Guinness on Pearse Street as the funeral procession of Shane MacGowan made its way past

A woman holds up a pint of Guinness on Pearse Street as the funeral procession of Shane MacGowan made its way past 

She explained: ‘It was a friend back in Nottingham, and it clicked on her eventually. Of course she knew who Shane was!

‘Richard and I love his music and it’s an honour to be here to be part of his send off.’

Retired care worker Shiela O’Byrne,67, held flowers and a sign saying ‘A beautiful soul never forgotten.’

She said: ‘The rain has been falling like tears. But we are not crying today.

‘We are smiling because we had 65 years of Shane and his wonderful music and his wonderful smile. Each time I saw him he just made me smile too.’

Thousands of mourners have gathered in the streets of Dublin to pay their final farewell to Irish punk icon Shane MacGowan.

To give as many people as possible the opportunity to pay their respects to the Pogues’ frontman, the cortege carrying the legendary singer, travelled through Dublin before going on to Tipperary where he will be cremated.

The funeral is being organised by local undertaker and his friend Phillip Ryan. The singer’s remains are being carried in a horse drawn carriage around south Dublin, where he lived with wife Victoria, accompanied by the Artane Band which was founded in 1871 and a piper.

Shane begun his journey by horse-drawn carriage from South Lotts Road, and will travel down Pearse Street and onto Westland Row, giving fans who loved him dearly the chance to say a final goodbye. 

Mourners applauded as the funeral procession passed McMahon Bridge in Dublin, with the sounds of Fairytale of New York and A Rainy Night in Soho ringing out from speaker in honour of the fallen musician.

Members of the public threw flowers and musicians played A Pair Of Brown Eyes as the funeral procession passed Sweny’s pharmacy in central Dublin, which featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses. 

Outside Sweny’s pharmacy in central Dublin, a a group of musicians led mourners in a tearful rendition of Pogues’ Christmas classic, Fairytale Of New York. 

Mourners, many holding photographs of Shane MacGowan, sang Dirty Old Town following his funeral procession through the streets of Dublin. 

At one point, the funeral cortège paused on Westland Row as the Artane Band played his hit Christmas song Fairytale of New York. 

Among those to witness the funeral procession was fellow musician Patrick McGuinness, 66, who played bass guitars in pubs at Ballsbridge where Shane also played.

Mr McGuinness said: ‘Shane was a legend. He was a poet and he was a son of Ireland who everyone loved.

‘His music will live on for centuries as will the love for him.’

Local café owner Joanne Moran said: ‘Shane was an international figure, but Dublin was his home and you would see him walking around just like everybody else.

‘It is a sad day and we have to show our love for Victoria and his family. They are part of the community and we feel so much sympathy for them.’

Mourners, many holding photographs of Shane MacGowan, sang Dirty Old Town following his funeral procession through the streets of Dublin (pictured is the procession)

Mourners, many holding photographs of Shane MacGowan, sang Dirty Old Town following his funeral procession through the streets of Dublin (pictured is the procession)

MacGowan's widow Victoria smiles as she is greeted by fans of the Pogues star

MacGowan’s widow Victoria smiles as she is greeted by fans of the Pogues star 

The coffin of Shane MacGowan starts making its way to Nenagh, Co Tipperary, for the funeral with a police escort

The coffin of Shane MacGowan starts making its way to Nenagh, Co Tipperary, for the funeral with a police escort 

MacGowan is pictured with his wife before his death last week

MacGowan is pictured with his wife before his death last week 

'A beautiful soul never forgotten': Pogues fan Sheila O'Byrne was among those paying her respect to MacGowan today

‘A beautiful soul never forgotten’: Pogues fan Sheila O’Byrne was among those paying her respect to MacGowan today 

MacGowan's horse-drawn carriage passes through Dublin as thousands of mourners line the streets to pay their respects

MacGowan’s horse-drawn carriage passes through Dublin as thousands of mourners line the streets to pay their respects 

Aidan Grimes, 60, described MacGowan as an icon and said: ‘I remember the first time I saw The Pogues in the Hammersmith Odeon in 1985. It is imprinted in my mind forever, just the madness and mayhem, the raucous nature of his singing and the music they were playing.

‘Through the years he evolved into a great poet and he will be sadly missed.

‘I met him in Dublin about 15 years ago and he was a very charming, nice, friendly man. He talked about music and his time in London.

‘I thought it was important to pay my respects. He was an icon of Dublin, just like Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly. His music will be listened to in 100 years’ time.’

Kevin Sexton from Co Fermanagh said MacGowan opened doors for Irish people living in England.

‘He made Irish people proud to be Irish at a time in London when it was a very difficult time to be Irish.

‘The Troubles were in full tilt. A lot of terrible things happened.

‘Shane MacGowan opened doors. He introduced Irish culture and his own unique writing ability and voice and style that opened up a mix of Irish music plus rock plus punk, his whole unique persona transformed into song that enlightened the world.’

Darragh McColgan from Dublin said MacGowan was a genius.

He added: ‘To me he was all about culture, the energy of it, it was representative to me of what being Irish is.

‘It will be a day we knew was coming but it won’t be easy to deal with because of what a big impact he was.’

Robert Mateer said: ‘ It is a very sad day. Shane has been part of the tapestry of Irish music for decades as well as part of the community. He will always be missed.’

The orange, white and green Irish flag was draped over MacGowan's casket

The orange, white and green Irish flag was draped over MacGowan’s casket

The funeral procession for MacGowan is pictured marching through Dublin

The funeral procession for MacGowan is pictured marching through Dublin 

People watched the funeral procession from their homes as it made its way through Dublin

People watched the funeral procession from their homes as it made its way through Dublin 

MacGowan, who died last Thursday, has been hailed one of Ireland's most legendary musicians

MacGowan, who died last Thursday, has been hailed one of Ireland’s most legendary musicians 

The Pogues star died last week following a lengthy battle with ill health

The Pogues star died last week following a lengthy battle with ill health 

Pogues fan Brenda Murphy, 38, waved a poster of Shane and said: ‘He was such a gentle soul. He would always say hello and smile despite the fact that he was poorly.

‘I had heard some amazing stories about him drinking in pubs around here and playing in The Ship pub with The Dubliners.

‘He had had his drinking problems and people would see him with what looked like a pint of water, but it was neat vodka.

‘But he wasn’t like that in terms of the hell-raising rock star. Shane was a deeply religious man and a good man who loved his wife and who loved Ireland.

‘It has been a terrible year with losing Sinead O’Connor a few months back and now Shane. It is fitting that today would have been Sinead’s birthday and Shane is joining her in heaven in the Lord’s arms.’

After the Dublin procession, the singer’s funeral was switching to Nenagh, Tipperary, where a mass was to be held followed by cremation.

Shane classic tune Fairytale of New York is set to top the Christmas pop charts for the first time but he himself was not a big fan of the tune, Mr Ryan revealed.

Despite its annual appearance in the Christmas charts since 2005 and an Xmas tradition since its release 35 years ago, Shane did not want to be remembered for it.

Mr Ryan, who runs a pub in Nenagh and is lead undertaker at Shane’s funeral told Mail Online: ‘He thought the Fairytale of New York was just a Christmas song and he didn’t care much for it.

‘When he was in Nenagh he would come into the pub regularly and I had known him since 1987 and he would sing sometimes with the bands here, but he never sang Fairy Tale in New York.

‘If he saw a band on stage, he would sometimes get up on stage and support them to give them confidence, but he would not sing Fairytale.’

MacGowan's funeral procession is pictured making its way to Nenagh, Co Tipperary, for his final send off

MacGowan’s funeral procession is pictured making its way to Nenagh, Co Tipperary, for his final send off

Tributes poured in from across the globe to honour the Irish music legend

Tributes poured in from across the globe to honour the Irish music legend

The legendary musician, who was behind the Christmas anthem Fairytale of New York, died 'peacefully' last week, wife Victoria Mary Clarke (left) and family by his side

The legendary musician, who was behind the Christmas anthem Fairytale of New York, died ‘peacefully’ last week, wife Victoria Mary Clarke (left) and family by his side

The funeral cortege passes through Dublin

The funeral cortege passes through Dublin 

Aidan Grimes in Pearse Street waits for the funeral procession of Shane MacGowan to makes its way through the streets of Dublin

Aidan Grimes in Pearse Street waits for the funeral procession of Shane MacGowan to makes its way through the streets of Dublin

The song is set to top the charts for the first time and a number one slot for the song which was recorded with the late Kirsty MacColl, who 23 years ago in Mexico, has been supported by Shane’s widow Victoria.

It has already entered the top five and is expected to reach number one after his funeral tomorrow in time for Christmas Day, which would have been his 66th birthday

She posted a heartbreaking message about her late husband on social media today thanking his fans for the support she had received and paying tribute to the love he gave her.

‘It’s incredible to think that so many people want to come to his (funeral) and that so many beautiful people are pouring their hearts and souls into making it magnificent and magical and memorable for him and for us who are left behind.

‘I am feeling my heart bursting open in all directions with the amount of love that is being showered on us and most especially because everyone has their own problems and challenges and everyone has their own loved ones who they need to look after.

‘I feel that Shane is with me all the time and that he is feeling intense appreciation and gratitude and that he is still sending love to everyone and maybe in a more powerful way from where he is now.

A candle burns next to a photograph of The Pogues frontman at the Mansion House, in Dublin, after a book of condolence was open by the city's lord mayor following the singer's death

A candle burns next to a photograph of The Pogues frontman at the Mansion House, in Dublin, after a book of condolence was open by the city’s lord mayor following the singer’s death

Shane MacGowan with his mother Therese MacGowan (centre) and sister Siobhan MacGowan

Shane MacGowan with his mother Therese MacGowan (centre) and sister Siobhan MacGowan 

‘I couldn’t have possibly asked for a more precious and enduring love affair as a human and I got so much from my relationship with Shane that it would be greedy to want more!

‘I would love to say to anyone who is in a relationship with someone who has problems with addiction or anxiety or depression to please get healing and help for yourself, and to take care of yourself and you will find that it gives you the strength to keep going and to be able to enjoy.

‘And to anyone who is in fear of losing someone just know that millions of angels are watching you and supporting you.’

She said Shane did not like funerals, but added:’But if you want to remember him, the next time you see a homeless person stop and give them your time and your compassion and your respect and treat them like a brother or a sister.’

Mr Ryan added: ‘He hated the whole celebrity thing and was one of the most humble people you could meet. ‘He was kind, sincere, and quite a shy man.

‘He would not listen to songs by his band The Pogues and if he heard one, he would ask me to put music on my cellphone and to turn it up.

The Pogues' frontman Shane MacGowan has died aged 65

The Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowan has died aged 65 

Shane MacGowan in 1989... his wife Victoria announced the news of his death last Thursday

Shane MacGowan in 1989… his wife Victoria announced the news of his death last Thursday

Shane, pictured with Victoria, had been hospitalised a number of times since the diagnosis and was believed to have been admitted again in June

Shane, pictured with Victoria, had been hospitalised a number of times since the diagnosis and was believed to have been admitted again in June

Shane pictured with his wife Victoria inside a taxi

Shane pictured with his wife Victoria inside a taxi 

‘He much preferred to hear Seán Ó Riada live at the Gayatri and he would ask people to be quiet so he could listen to the music on the phone.’

Mr Ryan said the singer had been desperately unwell this year and in terrible pain. You don’t want to see anybody like that.

‘I don’t like to say it, but it his passing is in some ways a Godsend as he does not have to suffer any more. The poor fellow was very sick.

‘I have known him for many years and I will miss him a great deal, and so will many other people in Nenagh.’

The singer had asked his friend to conduct his funeral in 2017 while at his wife Victoria’s birthday after they were at a Black Sabbath gig in Dublin.

The singer requested private prayers with his family and then a public mass a private cremation. His ashes will scattered on the Shannon which inspired his song ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon.’

Shane, who was 65, died from pneumonia last week, after being wheelchair bound and in poor health for years.

A wake will be held in Mr Ryan’s pub once the service has concluded.

Dublin’s pubs are also expected to be busy raising glasses to the Pogues star.

Inside the life of Shane MacGowan: The Pogues rocker who was born in Tunbridge Wells and went to prep school in Westminster, but had his first Guiness at four, and got drunk on whiskey at eight, leaving all who loved him asking – how did he make it to 65! 

by CHRISTOPHER STEVENS 

Farewell to the Spirit Of Christmas Plastered. Shane MacGowan, the ravaged, foul-mouthed, broken-toothed rock star who co-wrote the best-loved festive karaoke song of all time, has died aged 65 — decades later than he or anyone else expected.

The former singer with punk-folk band The Pogues defied the doctors so often that he achieved a kind of immortal status. A few days ago, his devoted wife Victoria, who became his lover at 16 and stayed loyally at his side ever after, released photographs of him in a hospital bed. He was skeletal, paper-skinned but still flashing his reprehensible grin.

His beloved festive hit with Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale Of New York, will be bellowed out at pub parties across the land this year with more gusto and raw emotion than any traditional carol. No one could possibly render Silent Night or The First Noel with the same ferocious glee.

The lyrics are infamous: ‘You’re a bum, You’re a punk, You’re an old slut on junk, Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed. You scumbag, You maggot, You cheap, lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your a*se, I pray God it’s our last.’

The single was the result of a drunken argument with Elvis Costello, who produced The Pogues’ breakthrough second album, Rum, Sodomy & The Lash. Goading them in the bar at Dublin’s Blooms Hotel, Costello bet the band they couldn’t write a Christmas song without turning into a schmaltzy pop variety act, punk versions of Val Doonican.

Farewell to the Spirit Of Christmas Plastered. Shane MacGowan (centre), the ravaged, foul-mouthed, broken-toothed rock star who co-wrote the best-loved festive karaoke song of all time, has died aged 65 — decades later than he or anyone else expected

Farewell to the Spirit Of Christmas Plastered. Shane MacGowan (centre), the ravaged, foul-mouthed, broken-toothed rock star who co-wrote the best-loved festive karaoke song of all time, has died aged 65 — decades later than he or anyone else expected

A few days ago, his devoted wife Victoria (pictured together), who became his lover at 16 and stayed loyally at his side ever after, released photographs of him in a hospital bed

A few days ago, his devoted wife Victoria (pictured together), who became his lover at 16 and stayed loyally at his side ever after, released photographs of him in a hospital bed

Winning the bet took two years but, in December 1987, MacGowan and his sister, Siobhan, were huddled round a transistor radio at the farmhouse in Tipperary, listening avidly to Radio 1’s chart show. Fairytale Of New York was No.2 in the UK, No.1 in Ireland.

In later life, he sometimes disowned it, claiming not to like Christmas. ‘I can’t stand all that sort of stuff. It’s gross.’ He said the song left him ‘bored’, but became defensive when an online student magazine called The Tab blasted it in 2019 as ‘homophobic’ because it included the insult ‘faggot’ — used as a derogatory word for a gay man.

The word, sung by MacColl, was ‘used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak. She is not supposed to be a nice person.

‘She is a woman of a certain generation and she is down on her luck and desperate,’ he said.

‘Not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable. Some have to be evil or nasty to tell the story effectively.’

Though born on December 25, MacGowan, whose final years were spent in a wheelchair, afflicted by encephalitis that caused swelling of the brain, was an unlikely patron saint of Yuletide.

A former heroin addict whose drink and drug binges were notorious even amid the 1980s music scene, he survived numerous drunken fights and a high-speed fall from a car on a motorway (something, improbably, that he shared with another star of his era, George Michael).

Though the reputation of The Pogues was built on chaotic performances and crowd punch-ups, the band found his hell-raising excesses impossible and sacked him as lead singer in 1991.

His response was to form The Popes, in effect a tribute band to himself. Recording sessions for the first album were so demented and dissolute that each day’s tapes were sent to another studio to be reworked. MacGowan never noticed the difference.

For 30 years, he lived on the fumes of past glories and the royalties from Fairytale. Despite the shambling wreckage that was his life, he retained an unmistakable voice with a drawling delivery that was much loved.

Bob Dylan invited him to be the opening act for a show in New York in 1988. MacGowan failed to show up at the airport and missed his flight. His wife, the music journalist Victoria Mary Clarke, found him at a friend’s house, with blood streaming down his face.

After swallowing dozens of LSD tabs, and tripping to Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, he had become convinced it was his cosmic duty to devour the Beach Boys’ Greatest Hits — literally, by chewing a vinyl album.

‘Shane took a lot of drugs,’ Victoria remarked, ‘and the effects became more unpredictable and more disturbing. That was the problem, not the gin and tonic.’

His capacity for self-destructive binges, coupled with an Irish poet’s gift for the English language and a genuine appreciation for beautiful music, earned him lifelong admirers. He recorded with Nick Cave, performed on the BBC’s Children In Need single Perfect Day with Lou Reed and David Bowie, and sang in French on a Serge Gainsbourg tribute album.

Though the reputation of The Pogues was built on chaotic performances and crowd punch-ups, the band found his hell-raising excesses impossible and sacked him as lead singer in 1991

Though the reputation of The Pogues was built on chaotic performances and crowd punch-ups, the band found his hell-raising excesses impossible and sacked him as lead singer in 1991

A former heroin addict whose drink and drug binges were notorious even amid the 1980s music scene, he survived numerous drunken fights and a high-speed fall from a car on a motorway (something, improbably, that he shared with another star of his era, George Michael)

A former heroin addict whose drink and drug binges were notorious even amid the 1980s music scene, he survived numerous drunken fights and a high-speed fall from a car on a motorway (something, improbably, that he shared with another star of his era, George Michael)

For his 60th birthday celebrations at Dublin’s National Concert Hall in January 2018, he was joined by Cave, U2 singer Bono, Cerys Matthews of Catatonia, Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and Carl Barat of the Libertines — rock aristocrats spanning 30 years of stardom.

Pogues members reunited as his backing band and Johnny Depp played rhythm guitar.

A man of endless contradictions, MacGowan started life not in Ireland but its spiritual opposite: Royal Tunbridge Wells.

His mother, Therese, went into labour unexpectedly when she and husband Maurice were visiting family in Kent, in 1957. Shane was their first child, born in Pembury maternity hospital.

Before the family returned to their crowded farmhouse in Tipperary, baby Shane spent his first few weeks sleeping in a drawer in his aunt’s bedroom.

Therese loved singing and passed on her passion for music to her son. Maurice had a Dubliner’s love of literature. Shane himself credited neither of them: his genius, he said began with a bout of measles, aged four: ‘The spots never came out, they went to my head and I went completely mad for a month. That’s when I started making up stories and poems and songs.’

A dozen or more relatives shared the house, including Shane’s hero, Uncle John: ‘He was a Zen master in the art of cursing. The rest of the time, he remained completely and absolutely silent. He grunted, rather than saying yes or no.’

It was a trick his nephew adopted for interviews with rock journalists. Silence alternated with unprintable outbursts, which help to explain why MacGowan was never a regular on TV chat shows.

His parents were often absent, working in England while he was growing up, and his aunts and uncles had a rackety attitude to child-rearing. He had his first Guinness when he was just four years old. Aged eight, he got drunk on whiskey for the first time. Weaving across the farmyard, he was convinced he could understand what the geese were saying.

He’d boast of IRA connections and claim the farm was a safe house for Republican militia men at the start of The Troubles in the 1960s.

Ireland’s history hung over him in other ways. Once, scrabbling through the sand dunes on a trip to the seaside at Mayo, he and his friends uncovered human bones — the remains of famine victims from the 19th century.

The Kent connection also refused to go away. Defying convention, his parents declined to send him to the Christian Brothers school in Tipperary, instead enrolling him in an English prep school, Holmewood House in Langton Green.

He won a literary competition in a national newspaper, then a scholarship to Westminster, one of the most prestigious public schools. But his academic career proved brief. As a London schoolboy in 1971, he discovered marijuana, grew his hair long like a hippie and got hooked on prescription tranquilisers.

For 30 years, he lived on the fumes of past glories and the royalties from Fairytale. Despite the shambling wreckage that was his life, he retained an unmistakable voice with a drawling delivery that was much loved

For 30 years, he lived on the fumes of past glories and the royalties from Fairytale. Despite the shambling wreckage that was his life, he retained an unmistakable voice with a drawling delivery that was much loved

His parents were often absent, working in England while he was growing up, and his aunts and uncles had a rackety attitude to child-rearing. He had his first Guinness when he was just four years old. Aged eight, he got drunk on whiskey for the first time. Weaving across the farmyard, he was convinced he could understand what the geese were saying

His parents were often absent, working in England while he was growing up, and his aunts and uncles had a rackety attitude to child-rearing. He had his first Guinness when he was just four years old. Aged eight, he got drunk on whiskey for the first time. Weaving across the farmyard, he was convinced he could understand what the geese were saying

The boys were encouraged to hold a mock General Election. Shane was appointed to the Cabinet, as Minister for Torture. When he was expelled a year later, the official explanation was that he’d been caught smoking. What he was smoking wasn’t specified.

After a brief spell at art college, he suffered a drug-induced breakdown and spent six months in a mental hospital, being weaned off Valium. When he emerged, he hacked off his hair and dyed the spiky remnants white.

His name, he announced, was now Shane O’Hooligan.

By 1976, he was a regular at the Roxy, Marquee and 100 Club — all the early punk venues. To cash in, he launched a fanzine called Bondage. It ran for one issue, which was all he needed to crowbar his way into the in-crowd.

At an early Clash gig, he was photographed at the edge of the stage snogging his girlfriend, bass player Jane Crockford of the all-girl band The Mo-dettes. When they were pulled apart, she’d bitten his earlobe and his face was smeared with blood. The photo ran in the New Musical Express, captioned: ‘These people are cannibals!’

With his next girlfriend, he launched his own band, The Nipple Erectors. Known as The Nips, they released four singles but failed to dent the charts — though one of their drummers, Jon Moss, went on to form Culture Club.

MacGowan’s next band, Pogue Mahone, appeared to be destined for equal obscurity… perhaps because their unpronounceable name translated in Gaelic to ‘kiss my backside’.

But their sweaty, stomping blend of Irish folk music and rockabilly started to gain a following on London’s pub circuit, and after a 1984 tour supporting The Clash they landed a record deal… as The Pogues.

‘When I saw The Pogues for the first time, I was shocked,’ Victoria said. ‘It was crazy. Everyone was throwing chairs and throwing drinks. It was dangerous, for the band as well as the audience.’

Costello was hired to bring some discipline to the studio. Though he and most of the band grew to loathe each other, the sessions yielded their first hit single — a dirge called Dirty Old Town. It was originally written in 1949 by folk singer Ewan MacColl — father of late Fairytale singer Kirsty.

Sell-out tours followed, but MacGowan found life on the road gruelling. Sustaining himself with alcohol and drugs, he became increasingly paranoid.

Though he’d been in a long-term relationship with Victoria since she was 16, he stumbled into hotel beds with anyone willing to sleep with him. ‘I never bothered with the ones you had to talk to,’ he said. ‘Whoever had the energy to capture me and drag me back to the hotel got the lollipop.’

He began to believe his lyrics were dictated to him by ghosts. ‘I actually see people dictating to me, behind me, through… they call it the third eye. I’ve seen ghosts behind me in period costume on a couple of occasions.’

Though he'd been in a long-term relationship with Victoria since she was 16, he stumbled into hotel beds with anyone willing to sleep with him. 'I never bothered with the ones you had to talk to,' he said. 'Whoever had the energy to capture me and drag me back to the hotel got the lollipop'

Though he’d been in a long-term relationship with Victoria since she was 16, he stumbled into hotel beds with anyone willing to sleep with him. ‘I never bothered with the ones you had to talk to,’ he said. ‘Whoever had the energy to capture me and drag me back to the hotel got the lollipop’

After a performance in 2000 with the late singer Sinead O’Connor, she reported him to the police for his heroin habit.

It probably saved his life. He and Victoria both went into rehab: he for drug addiction, she to be treated for depression.

Famous for his rotten teeth, in 2015 Shane underwent extensive dental surgery to replace them with implants. Victoria chose the whitest available, after seeing a photo of actor Michael Fassbender.

MacGowan, remembering how he had once got drunk with a bunch of fishermen in Greece with glittering smiles, insisted on having one solid gold tooth.

This year he and Victoria celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary, though they’d been together, with periodic break-ups, for 41 years. ‘I’ve been lucky,’ he admitted. ‘I’ve been beaten up a lot, I’ve had a lot of illnesses and accidents, I’ve been run over three times.’

Victoria became his carer as a series of medical problems saw him hospitalised. MacGowan used a wheelchair from 2016, when he fell and broke his pelvis while dancing. Another fall, on his Zimmer frame, left him with a broken right knee and he subsequently tore ligaments in his other knee.

Last year, he published a book of his paintings and drawings in a limited edition, called The Eternal Buzz And The Crock Of Gold: 1,000 copies at £1,000 each.

It was a typical flash of defiance, one of the moments of artistic flair that somehow survived all his drink and drug abuse — like a gold tooth in a mouthful of ruins.



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