Belfast Telegraph

Wildman Shane joins The Priests

by Chris McCann

A North Down priest has revealed the special bond between himself and Irish singer and hellraiser Shane MacGowan.

Fr Martin O’Hagan, parish priest at St Patrick’s in Newtownards and one of The Priests singing trio, was talking to the Community Telegraph as their collaboration with the Pogues’ frontman prepares to enter the Christmas No 1 battle.

He told how wildman MacGowan joined the priests in prayer following the recording of the hit in Dublin’s Cauldron Recording Studios.

It was there they recorded the 1977 Christmas classic Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.

The single will go head-to-head with X Factor for the coveted festive top spot and is released on December 12.

Fr O’Hagan told how the most unlikely of combinations came about: “Our management suggested that Shane come onboard to make the song a combination like Bowie and Crosby. So we asked Shane and he said ‘yeah’.

“He has a big following in Belfast, Ireland and beyond so we are absolutely delighted.

“And I must say, even though we are from different stables as it were, we witnessed a wonderful marriage of two different styles coming together.

“Shane brought a wonderful sense of enthusiasm. He sings from the heart and that comes across really well.

“And the sentiment in the song of course, is beautiful.”

Fr O’Hagan said he found MacGowan to be very “welcoming” on a personal level as well.

“I know Shane has his own story, but he was very insightful and brought a new interpretation to the piece.

“He is also a man of faith and had a spiritual sense of connection. We all said a prayer together at the end, which was a lovely, spontaneous moment.”

The Newtownards priest said of the battle for the Christmas No 1 spot: “If we were to get it, it would be absolutely fabulous.

“However, if the music speaks volumes and the message gets across, that would be great.”

Speaking about working with The Priests, MacGowan said recently: ''The Priests are very talented singers and the track sounds good and hopefully people like it. We changed some of the lyrics from the original and we like it the way it is.''

The Irish music legend has previously worked with a number of artists, including Kirsty MacColl, Sinead O’Connor, Nick Cave, The Dubliners and Christy Moore

He will be performing throughout the country in December on The Pogues Farewell Tour.

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