Shane MacGowan was a “poet of the downtrodden and the marginalised”, Gerry Adams has said in a fulsome tribute to The Pogues frontman.
The 65-year-old musician passed away this morning following a lengthy stay in hospital.
In a post on Instagram, his widow, Victoria Mary Clarke, said she was “blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him”.
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that he had been “very, very saddened” to hear the news and extended his “comhbhrón [condolences]” to the family.
The pair knew each other for decades and Mr Adams paid him a visit at his home on Wednesday.
“I knew then that he was on his last legs,” he said.
“He was in good spirits and he was delighted to be home. He had been in hospital for six months.
“He was a wonderful human being.”
I am really sorry to hear of death of Shane Magowan. RG & I were with him and Victoria last Wednesday. Ireland has lost a great patriot, a poet and friend of the down trodden and marginalised. pic.twitter.com/Z3QmlK7aNN
— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) November 30, 2023
The Pogues’ most well-known tune was Fairytale of New York - which for millions around the world is one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time.
However, Mr Adams said the band’s wider work reflected MacGowan’s belief in social justice and burning desire for a better world.
“He was a poet of the downtrodden and the marginalised,” he said.
“I think his lyrics and his writing reflect who we are with all our faults and flaws and wonderful courage, tenacity and indomitability.
“His songs, his music reflect all of that and The Pogues are one of the best bands that ever was… His music will be played as long as music is played.”
A patriotic Irishman
MacGowan was born in London to Irish parents and Mr Adams described him as a “very patriotic” and “very republican-minded” person.
The pair first met in the 1980s when, at the height of the Troubles, MacGowan came to Féile an Phobail in Mr Adams’ West Belfast constituency.
“This was a time when the people of West Belfast were pariahs in the eyes of the establishment,” he said.
“Shane came to play one gig and he probably stayed about two or three days.
“Then he came back again and again.”
On behalf of everyone at Féile an Phobail, we wish to express our sadness at the passing of legendary Irish singer Shane McGowan.
A musical genius, a beautiful voice, a gifted songwriter, a wonderful person.
Deepest sympathy to Shane’s family & friends. pic.twitter.com/SqaFbslCLP
— Féile an Phobail (@FeileBelfast) November 30, 2023
A book of condolence can be signed at Dublin’s Mansion House between 11am and 5pm on Friday and Saturday.
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Main image: Shane MacGowan. Picture by: Alamy.com