Shane MacGowan Passed Away at the Age of 65 — What Was the Irish Singer's Cause of Death?

Melissa Willets - Author

Nov. 30 2023, Published 9:56 a.m. ET

Shane MacGowan of The Pogues performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park on July 5, 2014 in London,
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Shane MacGowan of the Pogues, an Irish band known for hits like "Fairytale of New York," has died at the age of 65.
  • He was being treated for encephalitis in the weeks leading up to his death.
  • Fans have reacted by posting moving tributes after learning about the passing of a legend.
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Shane MacGowan is best known as the frontman of the Irish band the Pogues. Among the group's best known songs is "Fairytale of New York".

Shane's excessive drinking led to the band breaking up at one point, but they reunited in recent years. Now, sadly, he has passed away. Read on for the details about his cause of death and what fans are saying about his contributions in life.

Victoria Clarke and Shane MacGowan attend the 50th Anniversary Of 'The Late Late Show' on June 1, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland
Source: Getty Images
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Shane MacGowan died with his loving family by his side.

As NPR reports, Shane passed away as his family, including his adoring wife Victoria Mary Clarke, offered him comfort, support, and love.

"It is with the deepest sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Shane MacGowan," a family statement said. "Shane died peacefully at 3 a.m. this morning (Nov. 30, 2023) with his wife Victoria and family by his side."

The statement went on to say, "Prayers and the last rites were read which gave comfort to his family. He is survived by his wife Victoria, his sister Siobhan, and his father, Maurice, family, and a large circle of friends. Further details will be announced shortly but the family ask for privacy at this very sad time."

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Victoria also shared an emotional Instagram post about her husband's passing, writing in part, "There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world."

No cause of death was shared at time of writing, however, according to multiple sources, the English-born star had been admitted to the hospital for viral encephalitis in the weeks prior to his death.

Express reports Shane had been hospitalized for a month before being released and passing away a week later.

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The 65-year-old's health had long been a concern of bandmates and friends due to his drinking and drug use, with Pogues guitarist Philip Chevron telling NPR in 2006, "People have given Shane six months to live every year since he's been 19."

Meanwhile, fans reacted with an outpouring of love following the sad news that the singer, who was active in the music scene since 1982, has sung his last notes.

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Fans prove that Shane's impact will last long after his death.

Among the many tributes that began pouring in on X, one fan called Shane "a truly unique and very special songwriter and performer."

Another fan tweeted that he was "the most courageous of poets who stood for all that is good about Ireland."

Sadly, although it seems that Shane's music was meaningful for scores of fans, he led a tortured life in many ways, having said about fatherhood, “I wouldn’t wish myself on any kid as a father."

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