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Director aims to get ‘Fairytale of New York’ top of the charts following Shane MacGowan’s death

Ged Graham said that even though Fairytale of New York has never topped the UK charts, it is the most-played Christmas song there.

A candle burns next to a photograph of The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan at the Mansion House, in Dublin, after a book of condolence was open by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, following the announcement of the singers death aged 65

Grainne Ní Aodha

Renewed efforts are being made to get the “nitty-gritty” Christmas song Fairytale of New York to top the music charts after Shane MacGowan’s death.

Following the singer’s death, the creative director of a theatre show called Fairytale of New York has redoubled efforts to get MacGowan’s best-known song to the top of the UK charts for the first time.

Ged Graham said that even though Fairytale of New York has never topped the UK charts, it is the most-played Christmas song there.

“It’s a great Christmas story,” he said. “It’s honest and it’s real, and honest and real music just lasts for eternity.

“It’s not a jingle-belly, happy, happy Christmas. It’s a nitty-gritty, real-life story at Christmas. Everything at Christmas isn’t all nice and bells and whistles and loveliness, it’s got an earthiness and a great kind of vibe to it that just appeals to people, especially Irish people in the UK.

“Christmas is a tough time for the majority of people. If you’ve got a bit of money, Christmas is a fantastic time, but not everybody has.

“And I just think, knowing that someone is out there telling the story of something that relates to you, it’s more real.

“Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl... are just two real people. They don’t look like film stars, they don’t look like George Michael and Wham! My friends look like that.”

Created in partnership with Tourism Ireland, Mr Graham’s show is set in Central Park on Christmas Eve, and features Irish songs and dancing, and Christmas classics.

After all previous tour dates sold out, the 2023 tour will have seen 85 shows at venues including London’s Dominion Theatre and Manchester’s AO Arena, before ending in Derry on December 22.

Mr Graham, who is a Dublin-born Mancunian, said MacGowan was of particular importance to a generation of Irish people living in the UK.

“Everything that was Irish was really celebrated in our house. Your mam and dad would be listening to The Dubliners’ records. I’d be listening to that and to Philomena Begley and all that, and that was great. But when The Pogues arrived, it was something of our own. It was so gritty and earthy and it was something we could relate to as late teenagers going into our early 20s.

“And when they arrived in town for gigs, it was better than St Patrick’s Day because they spoke our language, spoke about things that we were interested in and were ours. They weren’t our parents, they weren’t our grandparents.

“Shane MacGowan is just a poet and there’s hidden meanings in the lyrics that you’d only get if you were Irish,” he added. “We need more poets.”

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