Pogues singer Shane MacGowan looks frail but happy as he receives visitors in hospital

Shane MacGowan looked frail but cheerful as he received a number of visitors in hospital over the weekend.

The Pogues frontman, 65, has been receiving care after being diagnosed with viral encephalitis, a rare and potentially life-threatening condition that causes the brain to swell, in December 2022.

Irish author Victoria Mary Clarke, MacGowan’s long-term partner, has been sharing updates with fans from the singer’s bedside, including photos of him greeting his friends.

On Sunday (19 November), Clarke tweeted that the “Fairytale of New York” singer had been “so happy” to see musician Imelda May, as she shared a picture of the pair hugging.

May, who previously shared a post showing her visiting MacGowan in August, quote-tweeted Clarke’s post and commented: “My darlin’ Shane! So good to see you today. Best kisser.”

MacGowan has also been visited in the past week by his Pogues bandmates, Spider Stacy and Terry Woods.

Earlier on Friday 17 November, Clarke thanked her followers for sending well-wishes to MacGowan, as she expressed her hope that he will be able to return home in time for the festive season.

“Shane is feeling much better today!” she wrote. “I am so grateful to everyone who is willing him to get home for [Christmas].”

MacGowan rose to fame in the early Eighties as the frontman of Anglo-Irish band The Pogues, who combined a punk-rock sentiment and politically charged lyrics with their use of traditional Irish instruments and folk references.

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They are best known for their hit single “Fairytale of New York”, the 1987 duet with Irish singer Kirsty MacColl that is widely regarded as one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time.

MacGowan was fired from The Pogues in 1991 due to his substance abuse issues and unreliability when it came to turning up to their live shows.

Shane MacGowan and Victoria Mary Clarke

(Instagram – Victoria Mary Clarke)

Clarke married the singer in an intimate ceremony in 2018, which was attended by their close friends and family, including Hollywood actor and musician Johnny Depp.

“Sometimes when you love very deeply, you will find yourself facing terrifying fears of loss that can feel so big and devastating that you don’t know how you can survive them and you can’t imagine life without this person that you love,” she wrote in an Instagram post earlier this month.

MacGowan has used a wheelchair since 2015 after fracturing his pelvis in a freak fall while leaving a studio in Dublin.

Following his years of struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, he managed to get sober the following year after suffering a serious case of pneumonia and a long hospital stay for his hip injury, which required a “total detox”.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, you can confidentially call the national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 or visit the NHS website here for information about the programmes available to you.