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Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan ‘obsessed with The Troubles’

Biographer reveals hellraiser still pained by NI conflict and preoccupied with a united Ireland

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Shane MacGowan with Gerry Adams

Shane MacGowan with Gerry Adams

A Furious Devotion: The Authorised Story of Shane MacGowan by Richard Balls

A Furious Devotion: The Authorised Story of Shane MacGowan by Richard Balls

Republican paramilitary Dominic ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey

Republican paramilitary Dominic ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey

Johnny Depp with Shane MacGowan and his partner Victoria Mary Clarke at his 60th Birthday Celebration Concert in Dublin in 2018

Johnny Depp with Shane MacGowan and his partner Victoria Mary Clarke at his 60th Birthday Celebration Concert in Dublin in 2018

Shane MacGowan performs on stage in the 1990s

Shane MacGowan performs on stage in the 1990s

PA

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Shane MacGowan with Gerry Adams

Shane MacGowan is “preoccupied” with The Troubles and the conflict still preys on his mind, a new book on the punk icon has revealed.

The Pogues hellraiser was born in London to Irish parents and is a republican who believes in a united Ireland.

Shane (64) said: “I don’t want to die just yet. I don’t want to die at all.

“But the idea that other people wasted so much of their lives blowing up other people who wasted their lives and the fact is that there’s no redress.

“They’ve got to give redress to the hundreds of people and their friends and relatives on both sides of the divide, which is a completely f***ed up divide.”

Author Richard Balls interviewed Shane for his authorised biography, A Furious Devotion, and said that The Troubles “has preoccupied (MacGowan’s) mind since childhood”.

He explained: “Sit with Shane for any length of time and the conversation will turn to Northern Ireland.

“For most of his life he has been both fascinated and pained by its bitter struggles and it is a subject that can trigger the angry outbursts which have become part of his personality.

“This is safe ground for him. He knows his Irish history inside out and is a staunch republican who counts former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams as a close friend.”

Shane’s father Maurice was from Dublin while his mum Therese was from Co Tipperary — and he would make regular summer trips to the family home there, The Commons, in his childhood.

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Shane MacGowan performs on stage in the 1990s

Shane MacGowan performs on stage in the 1990s

PA

Shane MacGowan performs on stage in the 1990s

Richard Balls said that it was those visits across the Irish Sea that reinforced the singer’s republican beliefs as he learned more about his Irish roots.

He said: “It was on his holidays at The Commons that Shane heard about how his ancestors had fought for ‘the cause’ and that a whole division of Black and Tans were killed and buried near the cottage. He was given a copy of My Fight for Irish Freedom by Dan Breen which was ‘very violent and very graphic’.

“Breen was involved in the ambush and killing of two RIC policemen, an act regarded to have started the War of Independence, and fought in the third Tipperary Brigade of the IRA.

“He became the first republican to enter the Free State Parliament and represented Tipperary for more than 30 years.

“As Shane got older and his ‘furious devotion’ to Ireland deepened, it gave him the identity he never had growing up in England.

“When he found fame with The Pogues, his family’s republican credentials came to form a keystone in his backstory.

“Although neither The Pogues nor The Popes were overtly political, Shane has made his own contributions to the rebel songbook.”

One of his songs, Paddy Public Enemy No 1, was inspired by republican paramilitary Dominic ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey, who was a senior figure in the INLA after being expelled from the IRA and who was later shot dead.

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Republican paramilitary Dominic ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey

Republican paramilitary Dominic ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey

Republican paramilitary Dominic ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey

Richard Balls said: “The release of that album had come just two months after the start of the peace talks in Northern Ireland that would culminate in the Good Friday Agreement.

“In interviews to promote it, Shane didn’t shy away from expressing his republican views. He said, ‘I think it should happen now — the English should get out. We’ve talked enough, they should let the Irish run their own country. I’ve always said that the Brits have no right to be there. I believe in a republic, a socialist republic.’

“That summer, Shane had met Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at the Féile an Phobail, the West Belfast Festival... Shane said he thought there had been ‘mutual respect’ between them. The two have remained friends and Gerry Adams still writes to Shane.”

A Furious Devotion: The Authorised Story of Shane MacGowan by Richard Balls is on sale now.

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A Furious Devotion: The Authorised Story of Shane MacGowan by Richard Balls

A Furious Devotion: The Authorised Story of Shane MacGowan by Richard Balls

A Furious Devotion: The Authorised Story of Shane MacGowan by Richard Balls


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