Readers share how Shane MacGowan helped them cope with homesickness, loneliness, and guilt.

“His music was my motivation during my departure from home.”

Similar to those who came before me, I faced the difficult choice to depart from my familiar surroundings in search of better prospects in another country. At 24 years old, I relocated to Manchester on my own without any acquaintances. As a child, I often listened to the Pogues with my father, who would record endless videos of my siblings and I, using their music as the background. Shane’s lyrics provided a sense of comfort and motivation during the most challenging moments, including homesickness, isolation, and remorse.

There was a specific song that deeply connected with me – “Sally MacLennane”. It never failed to improve my mood, with the lyrics “I’d like to think of me returning when I can” constantly replaying in my head every time I had to leave England and bid farewell. Even though I was aware that I would eventually come back, it didn’t make saying goodbye any less difficult – especially with aging parents and a sick grandparent.

I am unable to express enough gratitude towards Shane for his poetic words, wit, and insightful observations on society. The loss of both him and Sinéad O’Connor has brought a somber atmosphere to the world. Ireland grieves and deeply misses them both. Rest in peace, Shane. May God bless your soul. Emma Deeny, in her early 30s, from Belfast.

Some of the most memorable shows I have attended in my lifetime.

It’s no surprise about Shane MacGowan, but it’s truly devastating. I will spend the day listening to The Pogues and reminiscing about the incredible concerts I’ve attended. I can still vividly recall the first time I heard them – I was 20 years old at a college party, and the DJ played an insane record. The music seemed to swirl around me, pulling me in and spinning me around before finally hitting me on the head and starting all over again. That song was “Sally MacLennane,” and I was instantly hooked. The next day, I went out and bought “Rum Sodomy & the Lash” and played it on repeat. Even now, I know every single note.

I first encountered them at Brixton Academy in south-west London. It was like being in a completely different world. The concert was packed with young Irish Londoners, all enjoying their drinks. When the band opened with Streams of Whiskey, the crowd went wild and rushed towards the stage. There was a frenzy of jumping and bouncing, limbs flailing everywhere. It’s amazing that no one got hurt. The show lasted for two hours, with Shane’s cackling and snarling captivating the audience. Afterward, you would come out drenched in sweat and beer, your hair a mess and your body exhausted. But despite the sore feet, torn shirt, and bruises, you couldn’t wait to do it all over again. Those were happy days, thanks to Shane. Robert Rea, a former journalist from Enfield, north London, fondly remembers the experience at age 58.

“I created this drawing back in 2012, and it brought a smile to his face.”

Christoph Heuer’s sketch of Shane MacGowan in 2012.

The music he composed for the Pogues amazed me. We crossed paths a few times throughout the years, first in London during the 1980s. He had a great sense of humor and intelligence. His writing and lyrics were a source of inspiration for my graphic designs. The most recent encounter I had with him was in August 2012, when I created this sketch that brought a smile to his face. Christoph Heuer, a 61-year-old graphic artist from Germany.

I was a timid 16-year-old, but he helped me break out of my shell.

Before the popular phrase “What would Beyoncé do?” became a trend, Shane MacGowan and the Pogues played a significant role in helping a timid 16-year-old come out of her shell. I traveled solo to follow the Pogues across various locations in the country and even internationally. My journey ended on March 16, 1990 at the New York Palladium for St. Patrick’s Day festivities, right before starting college. This experience empowered me to take control of my life and overcome my shyness.

Although Shane MacGowan did not assist me in writing my PhD thesis, I believe his influence gave me the confidence to complete it. I constantly played The Pogues’ first two albums on my turntable for years and have even requested “Sally MacLennane” to be played at my funeral. Thank you, Shane. I will raise a glass in your honor tonight. Deborah Mutch, 58, Derby.

This is still my favorite photo out of all the ones I took.

Andrew Calvert’s picture of Shane MacGowan taken at the Cambridge pub, Cambridge Circus, central London.

During the 1970s, I was acquainted with Shane while he was employed at the Rocks Off record stall in Soho Market, located in central London. He formed his debut band, the Nipple Erectors, during this time. To increase their chances of airplay, the band’s name was shortened to the Nips. I had the opportunity to photograph the band extensively for the record label, as well as for publications such as Sounds and NME magazines.

The guys from the stall, including Shane, and I would often drink in the upstairs bar of the Cambridge pub in Cambridge Circus, near the market. I took a picture of him there that remains my favourite photo of all the ones I shot. I last saw Shane at a party in 1982, when he told me he was forming a new band, Pogue Mahone. Sadly, my new spouse, house and career taking off meant I never had the time to photograph or meet him again. Andrew Calvert, 69, freelance cameraman, Ruislip, west London

He remains a witty and charming individual, even after consuming several bottles.

I recall witnessing the Pogues during their peak popularity at a massive venue known as the Beaten Path near Claremorris, County Mayo. This occurred in January 1986 and there were approximately 5,000 enthusiastic fans in the audience. I also had the opportunity to interview the lead singer for his album The Snake. However, he arrived five hours behind schedule and under the influence. It was a challenging task to edit the interview, but he was a pleasant and humorous individual, even after consuming a few bottles of alcohol. Paddy Cunnane, a 65-year-old retired radio host and producer from County Kerry, Ireland.

Kirsty MacColl and Shane’s connection left us speechless.

In 1988, I attended a concert at Rock City in Nottingham when I was a 19-year-old student studying history. As someone with an Irish background, The Pogues were a significant part of my upbringing. When the familiar tune of Fairytale of New York started playing, the audience was captivated as Kirsty MacColl joined the stage. The connection between her and lead singer Shane was electric and left us in awe. Though we had seen it in their music video, their live performance was pure magic – it was clear they adored each other. The show was not just about Shane, but also about the talented musicians accompanying him. It was evident that he enjoyed performing with those he had a strong connection with. The opening act was The Saw Doctors and later in the show, a brass trio performed and Joe Strummer made a surprise appearance on stage. It was an unforgettable experience. We have unfortunately lost a legend in Shane, but I hope I still have the shirt from that amazing concert. Sue, Switzerland


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