Fairytale for Shane as perennial favourite earns over €460k this year

Growing up it wasn’t quite a fairytale for Shane McGowan but nowadays, more than ever, December 25 sees his Christmases and birthdays rolled into one.

The lead singer of the Pogues, who was born on Christmas Day, has opened up about his childhood memories and enjoying the build-up every year more than what happened on the day itself. In a first-hand reflection on Christmas for the Irish Examiner the Tipperary native, who grew up in England, said he is surprised he wrote a song synonymous with Christmas.

“Given that I don’t particularly like Christmas songs: I don’t even like White Christmas, it is strange I ended up writing A Fairytale of New York — a Christmas song that gets played every year.

“I am grateful people like it so much, I’m very grateful to Christ and his Holy Mother and Joseph and the saints, including my family, that have passed on. And I was very grateful to Kirsty MacColl. It would never have been such a big hit without her,” he said.

By the middle of December the Performing Right Society in Britain estimated that Fairytale of New York had already earned €462,139 this year. It was a distant second behind Slade’s 1973 singalong Merry Christmas Everyone but was easily ahead of all the other perennial hits.

IMRO does not calculate a breakdown for the Irish market as the royalties are pooled by region and radio play rewards vary depending on whether a song is aired on local or national radio.

McGowan said his head was turned more by the spiritual aspects of festival than the pantomime nature of Christmas hits.

He said his favourite part of Christmas was the “mystical” ceremony of midnight mass and when it came to songs he was only interested in carols.

“I don’t like most of the Christmas songs, but I have always loved carol singing and I used to do it for money when I was a kid. I love Away In A Manger although I hate Silent Night.


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