Shane MacGowan's wife reveals star's cause of death as tributes pour in for The Pogues frontman

1 December 2023, 14:24 | Updated: 1 December 2023, 14:36

Shane MacGowan's wife revealed the cause of The Pogues frontman's death
Shane MacGowan's wife revealed the cause of The Pogues frontman's death. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Iconic Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan died of pneumonia after battling a brain swelling condition, his wife has announced as tributes continue to pour in for the Irish singer.

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MacGowan, 65, had been battling viral encephalitis and had only been released from hospital last week.

The legendary singer's wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, confirmed MacGowan's cause of death was pneumonia, the New York Times reported. She did not confirm where MacGowan died yesterday.

Details of the funeral for MacGowan, who is best known for the Pogues' Christmas song Fairytale of New York and anthem Dirty Old Town, have not yet been confirmed.

The singer - who was born on Christmas Day in 1957 - would have turned 66 this month.

He had long battled a string of complex health issues, and had received treatment in hospital for encephalitis in December 2022. He was admitted to hospital in November.

Announcing his death yesterday, his family made a statement, writing: "It is with the deepest sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Shane MacGowan.

"Shane died peacefully, on Thursday, 30th November, 2023, with his wife Victoria and family by his side.

"He is predeceased by his mother Therese and is survived by his beloved wife Victoria, his sister Siobhan and his father, Maurice, family and a large circle of friends.

"Further details will be announced shortly, the family ask for privacy at this very sad time. House Private, please."

Shane MacGowan performs on stage with his group The Popes, at the 10th annual Fleadh, in Finsbury Park
Shane MacGowan performs on stage with his group The Popes, at the 10th annual Fleadh, in Finsbury Park. Picture: Alamy
The Pogues play British Summertime Hyde Park, 5th July, 2014. Persons Pictured: Shane MacGowan. Picture by Julie Edwards
The Pogues play British Summertime Hyde Park, 5th July, 2014. Persons Pictured: Shane MacGowan. Picture by Julie Edwards. Picture: Alamy

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Clarke yesterday paid tribute to her husband, writing: "Shane will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life."

Tributes have since flooded in from family, friends and Irish political leaders after the iconic singer's death.

U2 frontman Bono shared a sketch of MacGowan on X, writing: "Shane MacGowan's songs were perfect so he or we his fans didn't have to be."

MacGowan's former bandmate in The Poges James Fearnley described him as "a tearaway" who "had a lot of concern for the state of the world". He said MacGowan "spoke very deeply and incisively to a lot of people".

Peter "Spider" Stacy paid tribute to him after his death. He said: "'O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done..'"He accompanied the Twitter post with a black and white image of MacGowan smiling on stage.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar called MacGowan "an amazing musician and artist".

He added: "His songs beautifully captured the Irish experience, especially the experience of being Irish abroad."

Shane Macgowan of the Pogues just prior to the release of A Fairytale Of New York in 1987
Shane Macgowan of the Pogues just prior to the release of A Fairytale Of New York in 1987. Picture: Alamy
The Pogues singer Shane MacGowan and his wife Victoria Clarke showing off her new emerald stone upon their engagement
The Pogues singer Shane MacGowan and his wife Victoria Clarke showing off her new emerald stone upon their engagement. Picture: Alamy

Irish President Michael D Higgins called MacGowan a "genius".

He said in a tribute: "Like so many across the world, it was with the greatest sadness that I learned this morning of the death of Shane MacGowan.

"Shane will be remembered as one of music's greatest lyricists.

"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.

"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.

"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."

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald, leader of the opposition in Ireland, called MacGowan "one of its most beloved icons" and one of the best songwriters in the world.

She said: "Shane was a poet, a dreamer and a champion of social justice. He was a dedicated Republican and a proud Irishman.

"Nobody told the Irish story like Shane - stories of emigration, heartache, dislocation, redemption, love and joy.

"Shane brought his musical unique style to all corners of the world, and his music will continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

"Today we mourn his passing. He was one of the best of us. Ni bheidh a leitheid aris ann.

"I want to extend my deepest condolences to his wife Victoria, his sister Siobhan, his extended family and very wide circle of friends."

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