Christmas With Shane MacGowan

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    Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, portrait, at the family home where he grew up, Ireland, 1997. (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)

    From growing up in a building that stood as a War of Independence safehouse to co-writing one of the greatest Christmas songs of all-time, Shane MacGowan remains a mine of stories and anecdotes to rival the best of raconteurs living in our midst. He shares some of his special memories over a glass of wine, and a WWII documentary, with Shea Tomkins.

     

    The dark evenings have reclined into the bleak afternoons and there’s a familiar Irish winter chill nipping at the air as I make my way through the emptied streets of Dublin towards Shane MacGowan’s home, signalling that Christmas, and all its bells and whistles, are not far away on the horizon.


    This evening, the famed Pogues’ front man, and co-composer of one of the most popular Christmas songs, Fairytale of New York (a song he later says he should hate because he has heard it often enough, but surprisingly doesn’t) has invited Ireland’s Own around for a festive chat. And to my delight, I find him in fine conversational form.


    Shane is just finishing his evening meal when I arrive, watching the end of a documentary on World War II that is set in Tunisia, and features legendary Hollywood director, Frank Capra.


    “This is a very good documentary,” he comments, and while I sip on a steaming cuppa served up by his welcoming partner, Victoria, he proceeds to tell me of his interest in history, and how much of it he learned as a young boy from his extensive line of family members in Carney Commons, near Borrisokane, in County Tipperary.


    “I was actually born in England, on Christmas Day, even though my parents weren’t living there at the time,” he explains.

    “My old man saw to it that his bigger sister, who was much better off than us, would pay for it all. So I was born in a private maternity hospital in Kent. Then, when I was three months old, they took me back to Tipperary where the Lynches, my mother’s people, were from. My parents were married in Kilbarron, not far from there.”

    Continue reading in this year’s Ireland’s Own Christmas Annual