Statement by President Higgins on the death of Shane MacGowan
Date: Thu 30th Nov, 2023 | 12:25
“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.
Shane’s talent was nurtured from a young age by his mother Therese, herself an award winning folk singer in her own right. Therese, who lost her life in such tragic circumstances on New Year’s Day 2017, inspired in Shane the love of Irish music and traditions which resulted in the wonderful music and lyrics which have been a source of such joy for so many people.
Born on Christmas Day, there was perhaps some form of destiny which led Shane to writing ‘Fairytale of New York’, 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.
I think too of ‘Haunted’, and the particular poignancy that both Shane and Sinéad O’Connor have left us in such quick succession.
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. A richly deserved honour.
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.”