The Pogues' Shane McGowan, 65, is visited by bandmates in hospital

The Pogues’ Shane McGowan, 65, is visited in hospital by his former bandmates as his wife asks for ‘love and prayers’ amid rocker’s battle with brain condition

The Pogues frontman Shane McGowan was visited in hospital by his former bandmates Spider Stacy and Terry Woods on Tuesday.

The rocker, 65, has been in intensive care for months after being diagnosed with viral encephalitis last year with his pals, with whom he has toured the world, stopping by to wish him well. 

While Shane was the iconic Irish Folk band’s vocalist, Spider, real name Peter Richard Spider Stacy, played the tin whistle and Terry Woods the guitar and mandolin.

All three performed in the group during the heigh of it’s success in the late 80s and early 90s before reuniting in 2001 with their last gig together in 2014. 

Shane’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to thank the musician’s for paying a visit alongside a harrow photo of her husband now using a breathing apparatus as he continues to battle the dangerous condition. 

Strong bond: The Pogues frontman Shane McGowan, 65 (pictured) was visited in hospital by his former bandmates Spider Stacy and Terry Woods on Tuesday

Band: (L-R) James Fearnley, Terry Woods, Andrew Ranken, Shane MacGowan, Darryl Hunt, Spider Stacy, Jem Finer in 1990

She penned: ‘I just wanted to say a massive thanks to everyone who has been messaging me and ⁦@ShaneMacGowan⁩ and thank you ⁦@spiderstacy⁩ and Terry Woods for coming to visit him.

‘Love and prayers for everyone who is struggling right now. Hang in there’.

MacGowan is most famous as frontman of Celtic punk band The Pogues, who enjoyed success in the 1980s with a string of albums and their iconic Christmas hit Fairytale of New York. He has performed with musicians including Kirsty MacColl, Sinéad O’Connor and Nick Cave.

It is thought Shane was admitted back in intensive care in June but his wife has not revealed the exact reason for his readmission.

Throughout his most recent stint in hospital, a number of A-listers have taken the time to visit him – including his bandmates Spider Stacy and Terry Woods as well as US rock star Bruce Springsteen. 

The singer was diagnosed with the illness late last year and it was said to have exacerbated by shingles that spread to the eye. 

Tragically it is just the latest in a long list of medical mishaps the Celtic band star has suffered over the years.  

In 2016 he fell and broke his pelvis while dancing and has had to use a wheelchair or Zimmer frame ever since. Another fall left him with a broken right knee and torn ligaments around his left knee.

Update: Shane’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke took to X, formerly known as Twitter , to thank the musician’s for paying a visit alongside a harrow photo of her husband now using a breathing apparatus as he continues to battle the dangerous condition

Love: It is thought Shane was admitted back in intensive care in June but his wife has not revealed the exact reason for his readmission

Ever since Shane’s health took a turn, Victoria has been providing regular updates on her social media

The series of falls has left his wife as his carer and the singer previously said he does not expect to walk again. 

Earlier in his life, the lead singer overcame a heroin addiction, a high-speed fall from a car and numerous drunken fights. 

It was his hell-raising behaviour that led him to be sacked as lead singer of the Pogues in 1991, after the Irishman often boasted of his IRA connections and his sexual excesses on tour. 

The Irishman was born in 1957 in Royal Tunbridge Wells in England after his mother went into labour unexpectedly while visiting his father’s sister in Kent. 

He spent his first weeks sleeping in a drawer in his aunt’s bedroom before the family returned to their farmhouse in Tipperary, Ireland. 

When MacGowan was four he had a nasty bout of the measles and he claims it was during that illness that his passion for music – notably song writing – was born.

MacGowan performing with the late Sinead O’Connor in 2007 in Dublin 

Shane pictured with his bandmate Kirsty MacColl who died in December 2000

Tough: Shane has been staying in a hospital intensive care unit for several months

‘Terrified’: On Tuesday, she once again took to Instagram and posted some new pictures alongside a heartfelt caption

Health: The star was rushed to hospital last December where he was being ‘treated for an infection’ (pictured with his wife Victoria)

The singer previously said: ‘The spots never came out, they went to my head and I went completely mad for a month. That’s when I started making up stories and poems and songs.’ 

Throughout his childhood, his parents spent much of their time working in England leaving MacGowan in the hands of his aunts and uncles, who would treat him to the odd pint Guinness.

When he was eight, he got drunk on whiskey for the first time and remembered falling about giggling in the farmyard. He had convinced himself he could under what the geese were saying to him.

The singer has previously said his parent’s farm had become a safehouse from the IRA at the start of the Troubles in the 1960s.

Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan pose with toy guns and an inflatable Santa in 1987 marking their hit Fairytale of New York

The lead singer was born in Royal Turnbridge Wells before returning with his family to Tipperary, Ireland

It was around that time that his parents decided to send him to an English prep school –  Holmewood House in Langton Green, Kent – instead of enrolling him in the nearby Christian Brothers school.

During his time at the Kent school, the talented songwriter won a literary competition in a national newspaper landing him a scholarship to Westminster – one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. 

While attending Westminster, MacGowan first experimented with drugs – discovering marijuana and getting hooked on prescription tranquillizers. His rebellious phase eventually led him to be expelled from the school after he was caught smoking.

MacGowan’s troubles with drugs continued when he attended art college. He suffered a drug-induced breakdown causing him to spend six months in a mental hospital to be weaned of Valium.

As he emerged back into society, he had chopped off his previously long locks and was introducing himself as Shane O’Hooligan. 

Soon enough he had become a regular at punk venues, including the Roxy, the Marquee and the 100 Club. He then launched his own band – The Nipple Erectors, known as The Nips.

After the group’s four singles failed to dent the charts MacGowan formed his next band – Pogue Mahone. 

The couple at their wedding in 2018 following 36 years of being together 

In 1991 MacGowan’s time with the band came to a sudden end when he was kicked out after missing too many flights and having too many drunken mishaps

The group soon gained notoriety on the London pub circuit and by 1984 the band had landed a dream role supporting The Clash on their tour. It led to a record deal and the group became known as the Pogues.

The bands fame continued to climb – with Fairy Tale of New York at No 2 in the UK and No 1 in Ireland during Christmas 1987. Their tours were sold-out.

But MacGowan found life on the road tough tackling his issues with alcohol, drugs and stumbling into hotel bedrooms with strangers, despite being in a relationship with Victoria since she was 16.

In 1991 his time with the band came to a sudden end when he was kicked out after missing too many flights and having too many drunken mishaps. 

‘Shane took a lot of drugs,’ Victoria previously told the Mail. ‘And the effects became more unpredictable and more disturbing. 

‘When he answered the door to me after having missed his flight to the U.S. to open for Bob Dylan, and there was blood pouring out of his mouth because he had eaten a Beach Boys record, it looked as though it was the 100 tabs of acid that were the problem and not the gin and tonic.’ 

Since then he has continued to live off his reputation, recording with Nick Cave, performed for the BBC’s Children In Need single Perfect Day with Lou Reed, David Bowie and Bono, and sang in French on a Serge Gainsbourg tribute album.

After his performance with the late Sinead O’Connor in 2000 he was reported to the police for his heroin habit, seeing him go to rehab. 

In 2018, he finally married Victoria after they had been together for 36 years, including brief stints broken up. She now is his full time carer following his various health battles.

MacGowan and his wife Victoria on their wedding day 

He was sacked as lead singer of the Pogues in 1991, when the rest of the band couldn’t cope with his hell-raising any longer

The most recent health update comes just days after Victoria shared a sweet photo of her kissing her husband in hospital, poignantly telling her followers sometimes you can’t imagine life without this person that you love’. 


Encephalitis is an uncommon but serious condition in which the brain becomes inflamed (swollen).

It can be life-threatening and requires urgent treatment in hospital.

Anyone can be affected, but the very young and very old are most at risk.

Encephalitis sometimes starts off with flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature and headache, but these don’t always occur.

More serious symptoms develop over hours, days or weeks, including: confusion or disorientation, seizures (fits), changes in personality and behaviour or loss of consciousness.

Dial 999 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone else has these more serious symptoms. 

It’s not always clear what causes encephalitis, but it can be caused by viral infections. Several common viruses can spread to the brain and cause encephalitis in rare cases, including the herpes simplex virus (which causes cold sores and genital herpes) and the chickenpox virus.

Source: NHS 

In the heartfelt caption she wrote: ‘Love is the most beautiful and powerful thing that we can experience as humans but love can also feel painful, especially if you are afraid of losing a person or anything else that you love. 

‘The really really big challenge that we all face is to go beyond what our minds think are the limits of love and what love really is.’ 

His wife continued: ‘A lot of the time that thing we call love can more accurately be described as attachment or desire or need or longing or closeness or connection. 

‘And all of these are totally valuable and human and we need to acknowledge and appreciate and accept every part of our experience.

‘But 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. 

‘It’s in these moments when you are staring into the abyss that you have an opportunity to expand your consciousness beyond the limitations of your mind.’

Last month in a different update Victoria shared more photos of Shane smiling in bed and relayed a messaged to his fans. 

Captioning the snap, Victoria appeared to reference the ongoing devastating conflict between Israel and Hamas as she shared some positive words from Shane.

She wrote: ‘Shane is praying for peace and love for everyone in the world’.

It came after Victoria shared another picture of Shane earlier this month, and voiced her optimism that he would be able to return home, while voicing her gratitude for those caring for him.

She tweeted: ‘Feeling really really grateful that ⁦@ShaneMacGowan⁩ is looking so bright today! And we as determined as ever to get home! 

‘Thank you a million times to all of the doctors and nurses and all of the staff and everyone who is visiting him!’

Victoria previously spoke about the struggle she’s experienced to remain positive in the face of Shane’s health troubles. 

She wrote on Instagram: ‘A lot of the time life goes on as normal but sometimes things happen to shake things up and not necessarily in ways that you want! 

‘We have had some pretty scary health challenges in our family recently and it has been showing me that the idea of just trusting and going with the flow is not easy!!!

‘The natural reaction for most of us when we are in a scary situation and a loved one is in danger of dying is to totally freak out and imagine the worst and it can be hard to stay positive and stay calm and strong and not collapse in a blubbering heap! 

‘But I have noticed that if you allow yourself to cry and to feel all of the fear and even to collapse and you don’t judge yourself for your feelings and you have compassion for yourself and everyone else around you even in the really dark moments it’s like that is the real meaning of going with the flow. 

‘Trusting that things will somehow work out doesn’t mean you have to pretend that you are not afraid. 

‘It means that you can trust yourself to be anything you need to be and feel anything that you feel and if you stay connected to your heart without telling yourself that you are doing it wrong you can find that your heart responds by being far more full of love and courage and appreciation and compassion than you thought possible. 

‘And when you feel love in your heart you stay focused in the present instead of worrying about the future. 

‘And you literally take heart from the love that you feel for your special person and also for all of the doctors and nurses and staff and your family and friends and everyone around you. 

‘It’s not really a challenge that we want to invite into our lives but you can be surprised by what comes out of it when you stay open to the possibilities! 

‘Love and gratitude for so many prayers and so much support for @shanemacgowanofficial.’

In June, Victoria also opened up about Shane’s health worries in an Instagram post. 

She had written: ‘There has been a lot of turbulence in my life recently and it’s been very emotional and also scary. 

‘But this past few days I have noticed that even though there’s a LOT of fear there is also a huge amount of love and support and incredible blessings. 

‘I think that our minds can be VERY resistant to change and to having our lives shaken up and rearranged and we need to be very gentle and patient with ourselves…

‘It’s a challenge to stay present with your feelings. Thank you to everyone who has been supporting me and @shanemacgowanofficial.’

Shane has been battling with his health for some time and had another hospital stint at the end of last year, when he was thought to have had both shingles and encephalitis – but he returned home in time for Christmas. 

Wife: Victoria, who married Shane in an intimate ceremony in Copenhagen in 2018 (pictured), after a 35 year romance asked fans to pray for him back in June 

Encephalitis is an uncommon but serious condition in which the brain becomes inflamed (swollen).

It can be life-threatening and requires urgent treatment in hospital.

In the video, Shane confirmed: ‘Hi friends, I’m sitting here suffering from encephalitis. 

Wearing a pair of sunglasses to protect against the light sensitivity, he added: ‘The light is killing me […] but I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and Happy Christmas.

And many more, and all the luck in the world and all the love. Happy Christmas and Happy New Year, love Shane.’

Shane had also wished his followers well over the festive period on Christmas Day.

He shared a short snippet of himself waving at the camera and saying: ‘Merry Christmas everyone’.

Alongside the video, he wrote on Twitter: ‘Happy Christmas everyone and thank you for all your messages and prayers’.

Fans were left concerned when he was rushed to hospital but his wife Victoria confirmed on December 15 that he was back home.

Writing to her followers on Twitter, Irish journalist Victoria, 56, wrote: ‘Shane is home and we are going to watch the football ⚽️!

‘Thank you everyone who has been messaging and blessings to everyone who has a loved one in hospital and who is in hospital themselves and blessings to the doctors and nurses! @ShaneMacGowan.’

Shane was wrapped up warm in the picture shared to her 29,000 followers, wearing a fluffy hat, sunglasses and covered in a blanket.

Shane, who has used a wheelchair since he broke his pelvis in 2015, has been in and out of hospital in recent years. 

Fans wished the singer, whose hits include Fairytale of New York, a speedy recovery and hoped he’d be home for Christmas.

Victoria previously updated his fans with a photo of the musician smiling from his hospital bed.

Alongside the snap, she wrote: ‘Fingers crossed @ShaneMacGowan will be home tomorrow! @PoguesOfficial.

Victoria gave fans an update on her husband’s health earlier this month, tweeting that ‘doctors are confident he will be OK.’

‘I just wanted to thank everyone who has been sending good wishes for @ShaneMacGowan, he is being treated for an infection and the doctors are confident that he will be ok.’

‘I am just incredibly grateful to them and to all of you,’ Victoria wrote. 

Victoria shared a picture of the musician smiling as she revealed he had been admitted to hospital. 

She tweeted: ‘Please send prayers and healing vibes to Shane MacGowan in hospital again and really hoping to get out asap!! Thank you.’

One fan wrote beneath her update: ‘Not at Christmas, the man is the sound of Christmas… I hope he recovers swiftly and not too much discomfort.’

Victoria told the Irish Mirror that Shane is finding it ‘frustrating’ and wants to get out after being admitted.

She said: ‘I’m definitely hoping he gets out this week. He’s a bit frustrated, I think. He finds it very frustrating… he wants to get out.’

The couple have been together for more than 35 years and tied the knot at Copenhagen City Hall in Denmark in November 2018.

The intimate ceremony was attended by their close friend Johnny Depp, who performed. 

The Irish singer-songwriter has had health troubles since he broke his pelvis. 

In 2021 he fell and broke a knee, before tearing ligaments in his left knee, never fully recovering from the injuries.

In April he confirmed that he ‘can’t walk any more’. 

He has also been open about his battle with addiction and in 2015 had to get a full set of teeth implants after decades of drinking and drugs destroyed his real ones.

But just last week he seemed in good spirits when he delighted fans by joining TikTok, clocking up 840,000 views for his first video.

He said in the 17-second clip: ‘Welcome to Shane MacGowan on TikTok, I hope you enjoy. God bless, Shane.’ 

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