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‘It captured what Christmas was like for a lot of people,’ Shane McGowan’s sister praises his most famous song

Shane McGowan “captured what Christmas was like for a lot of people” in his song ‘Fairytale of New York’, his sister Siobhan MacGowan has claimed.

The Pogues frontman passed away aged 65 on Thursday (30.11.23) after living with several health issues over the past few years. Shane had been diagnosed with viral encephalitis – a deadly infection that can cause brain damage and life-threatening complications – last year, and had been receiving care at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.

Now, his sibling Siobhan has shared her thoughts on her brother’s festive classic – which The Pogues recorded with Kirsty MacColl and released in 1987 – and why she believes it has endured for over 30 years.

Speaking to Hot Press magazine, she said: “I thought it was absolutely amazing. What a song: the orchestration, the pathos, the beauty, the anger.

“I thought it captured what Christmas was like for a lot of people, which we all understood but nobody ever put in Christmas songs. I was very impressed that, finally, there was a Christmas song that maybe portrayed real life more than the other Christmas songs did.

Siobhan gushed about how “very proud” she was of her brother’s lyrics on ‘Fairytale of New York’ – which he co-wrote with Jem Finer – but not “surprised” that he was the artist to bring this sort of honesty to the festive season.

She added: “I was very proud of Shane for having done it – but not a bit surprised that he was the one who this to the fore.”

The news of Shane’s passing was shared by his wife Victoria Mary Clarke in an emotional social media post.

Victoria, 57, wrote: “I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it. Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.

“I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have had the joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures.

“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.

“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. You meant the world to me (sic)”

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