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The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan has died at the age of 65

The music icon's passing has been confirmed by his wife, Victoria Clarke.

By Nick Reilly

Shane MacGowan (Picture: Wikicommons)

The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan, an enduring icon of Irish folk music, has died at the age of 65.

The singer’s passing comes just a week after he was discharged from hospital in Ireland, where he had been receiving treatment for four months.

MacGowan’s death was confirmed by his wife, the journalist Victoria Clarke, who hailed him as “the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams”.

“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,” wrote Clarke.

“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,” she went on.

“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.”

In a statement from The Pogues, the group said that “prayers and last rites were read which gave comfort to his family.”

MacGowan’s cause of death is yet to be confirmed, but he was most recently hospitalised in June –  just months after he was previously admitted in December last year with viral encephalitis – a condition that causes the brain to swell.

In a photo shared to Instagram earlier this month, Clarke shared a photo of MacGowan using breathing apparatus, while also thanking his Pogues bandmate Spider Stacy and Irish musician Terry Woods for visiting him in hospital.

MacGowan, who founded The Pogues with Stacy and banjoist Jem Finer in 1982, was known for pioneering Celtic Punk – which took the traditional folk leanings of Irish music and injected it with a more abrasive, rocky edge.

The group were best known for their enduring 1987 Christmas hit ‘Fairytale Of New York’, a duet with the late Kirsty MacColl, but endured themselves to millions around the globe through albums such as the seminal 1985 record Rum, Sodomy & The Lash and 1988’s If I Should Fall From Grace With God. His songwriting skills eventually earned him the Ivor Novello songwriting inspiration award in 2018.

But MacGowan was also known for his hard-living as much as his renowned lyrical prowess. He began drinking as a child when given Guinness to help him sleep, and suffered from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse throughout his life. He left The Pogues in 1991 on account of drinking problems, but rejoined them in 2001 – where their regular end of year tours became a staple of the festive season for many fans.

Paying tribute on social media, Stacy shared a photo of MacGowan and MacColl, and wrote: “O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done..”

Other Irish artists paying tribute to MacGowan included Fontaines D.C’s Grian Chatten, who wrote: “So long North Star. I will love you forever.”