Music stopped Shane MacGowen joining the IRA

Shane MacGowen has said that if he hadn’t have become a musician he might have joined the IRA.


Shane MacGowen

The Pogues singer grew up in London in the 1960s and 1970s. He had Irish parents and was angry with the hostile way they were often treated. The anger turned to hate and MacGowen was tempted to join the Provisionals.

His parents didn’t like the idea and persuaded him to pursue his musical talent as a way of venting his anger.

MacGowan said: “I was brought up by Fenians. I was told, ‘Watch out for the f**king Brits – them bastards!’ That was true when I came over here [London], and it’s still true – all the ‘no blacks, no dogs, no Irish’. That was true. You were hated.

“I was told not to get involved in the Provisionals. I was brought up in an official IRA family – they [his parents] didn’t like the indiscriminate bombing, the stupid bombing. They didn’t like the punishment squads.

“The people that brought me up told me to steer clear of all that and to do it with the music.”

MacGowen went on to have worldwide success with the Pogues until he was sacked because of his alcoholism. The band reformed in 2001 and have continued to sell out big venues ever since.

However, MacGowen has said that last weekend’s gig, supporting the Libertines in London’s Hyde Park, will be the end of the road of the Pogues. He said: “I didn’t intend it to go on for this long. Anyway, this is the last gig.”

He is looking to get into the studio with his new band The Cronins.

This article was first published on 1 July 2014

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Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling. His favourite Irish Music bands are Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.

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