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Irish musician Cathal Coughlan dies aged 61

Coughlan was a member of critically acclaimed bands The Fatima Mansions and Microdisney.

gettyimages-526190818-594x594 Cathal Coughlan performs at Southbankcentre's the Royal Festival Hall in 2016 in London Source: Redferns/Getty

TRIBUTES ARE BEING paid to Irish songwriter Cathal Coughlan, who has died aged 61.

The Cork musician had been living in the UK for some years. His impact on independent music since his early days in the post-punk scene in Cork was immense – musicians from across Ireland and the UK have been paying tribute to him on Twitter today. 

Camille O’Sullivan said: “This is the saddest news ever we will miss you so much Cathal x”. 

“Cathal Coughlan, music genius, has left this realm. His brilliant songs remain. Play them loud and remember him,” wrote Tim Burgess of The Charlatans.

Tracey Thorn wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear of the death of Cathal Coughlan. There are lines of songs that stay in your head and for some reason “Put that suitcase down before you answer me” has always stayed in mine.”

Luke Haines of the Auteurs said: “I have no words at the moment. Just sadness and anger really.”

Coughlan was frontman with the band Microdisney, which he formed with Sean O’Hagan in 1980. The pair met in Cork and left for London a few years later. After the band split up in 1988, Coughlan went on to form Fatima Mansions, who once supported U2 on their ZOO TV tour in 1992. In 2018, Microdisney reunited for a series of gigs. 

Maura McGrath (Chair, National Concert Hall) and Robert Read (CEO, NCH) commented today: “Cathal was an iconic Irish singer songwriter who made is his mark on the cultural landscape in Ireland and the UK through his song writing and performances with Microdisney, Fatima Mansions and as a solo artist. He will always be remembered as a unique talent who has left a great legacy, one that will be cherished and lauded for decades to come.”

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CathalCoughlan Source: NCH

Coughlan went on to have a long solo career – his most recent album was Song of Co-Aklan, which came out last year.  

Though the bands he was in were not massively commercially successful, they were creatively and emotionally impactful, leading to the huge outpouring from within Ireland’s music community and beyond today. 

Asked by journalist John Meagher of the Irish Independent in 2018 if he felt any bitterness over Microdisney not ‘making it’, Coughlan replied:

“It’s for others to say what might have been [about Microdisney], but we are where we are and it’s very nice for us to be able to reconvene and do The Clock and other Microdisney music in this way because we’re not just doing it in some little venue somewhere, only having done a handful of rehearsals. We’re doing this properly. Artistically, it’s a real shot in the arm.”

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