The singer behind the Christmas anthem “Fairytale of New York” was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, an uncommon and potentially life-threatening condition that causes the brain to swell, last December.
He has repeatedly been admitted to the hospital, with Clarke providing occasional updates.
In June, MacGowan, 65, was admitted once again and has received inpatient care ever since.
On Tuesday (14 November), Clarke shared a new image of MacGowan wearing a hospital robe and assistive breathing apparatus, while thanking his Pogues bandmates Spider Stacy and Terry Woods for visiting him.
“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,” she wrote alongside the picture.
“Love and prayers for everyone who is struggling right now. Hang in there!”
Clarke, a journalist, has been in a relationship with MacGowan for decades. They married in 2018.
Last month, she shared her gratitude for improvements in MacGowan’s condition, as well as her hopes that he’d be discharged soon.
“Feeling really really grateful that @ShaneMacGowan is looking so bright today!” MacGowan captioned a photo of the singer-songwriter. “And we [are] 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!”
Earlier in November, Clarke also shared a photo of her and MacGowan sharing a kiss in his hospital bed, alongside an extended caption about the nature of love.
“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.
MacGowan has used a wheelchair since 2015 after fracturing his pelvis in a fall, leaving a studio in Dublin. After years of MacGowan battling addictions to drugs and alcohol, Clarke told journalists in 2016 that he was sober “for the first time in years”. According to Clarke, his sobriety was kickstarted by a serious case of pneumonia and a long stay in hospital for a hip injury, which required a “total detox”.
The singer’s struggle with alcoholism has been long documented and he has performed while significantly inebriated on several occasions. In his 2001 book co-written with Clarke, A Drink with Shane MacGowan, he claimed that he began drinking at age five when his family gave him Guinness to sleep.
Though MacGowan has been making solo music since his start in the music industry in the late 1970s, he is best known to many for being the lead singer of The Pogues.
The English-Irish band was formed in 1982, and released “Fairytale of New York” in 1987. Created with Irish vocalist Kirsty MacColl, the Christmas hit is one of the most popular festive songs in the UK and Ireland.
However, MacGowan was fired from the band at its peak of popularity in 1991, due to his unreliability. The singer had previously missed the first dates of The Pogues’s 1988 American tour, impacting their ability to promote their album Hell’s Ditch.
The last straw for MacGowan in the band came after a “chaotic” performance at the Womad Festival in Japan in 1991. The Pogues disbanded in 1996, before returning with MacGowan back in tow, in 2001.
In 2015, MacGowan confirmed that the group was no longer active, explaining that his relationships with the bandmates were better when not working together.
“I don't hate the band at all – they're friends,” MacGowan told Vice. “I like them a lot. We were friends for years before we joined the band. We just got a bit sick of each other. We’re friends as long as we don’t tour together. I’ve done a hell of a lot of touring. I’ve had enough of it.”
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.
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