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Microdisney and Fatima Mansions frontman Cathal Coughlan dies aged 61


Cathal Coughlan

Cathal Coughlan

Cathal Coughlan

Irish indie music pioneer Cathal Coughlan has died following a long illness, his family has announced.

The 61-year-old singer songwriter, who was the leader of such bands as Microdisney and Fatima Mansions, died on May 18.

His family released a statement today saying he “slipped away peacefully in hospital after a long illness.”

From Glounthaune in East Cork, he was a mainstay of the post-punk scene in Cork in the early 1980s that was based around the Arcadia ballroom in the city.

He was best known for forming Microdisney with Sean O’Hagan.

Broadcaster and singer Tom Dunne said he was “the brightest star of our generation, a giant with a great voice and a perfect eye for what it was to be Irish in the UK in the 1980s.

“He achieved, with Sean, vastly more that anyone could have hoped. The Clock Comes Down the Stairs is a masterpiece.”

Coughlan returned to Dublin to perform at the National Concert Hall in 2018 as well as London’s Barbican theatre where he performed Microdisney’s seminal album The Clock Comes Down the Stairs to a rapturous audience.

He released his most recent solo album, Song of Co-Aklan, in 2021.

Coughlan is survived by his Julie. A memorial ceremony is to be held in the coming weeks with close friends and family.

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Tributes poured in from the music industry.

Tim Burgess, lead singer of the British indie band The Charlatans, wrote on Twitter: “Cathal Coughlan, music genius, has left this realm. His brilliant songs remain. Play them loud and remember him.”

Former Radiators From Space guitarist Pete Holidai said: “If you need to understand musical integrity, listen to anything that Cathal Coughlan was involved in. RIP.”

Independent.ie journalist John Meagher said: “I’m knocked sideways by the news of Cathal Coughlan’s death. What an extraordinary musician.

Writer Sinéad Gleeson said: “Such awful news. Cathal made so much brilliant music - solo, Fatima Mansions, Microdisney - that was political, comic, plaintive. Condolences to his family and friends. Also, the first musician I ever interviewed (I was terrified, but he was a gentleman).”

Musician Gavin Friday said: “Our condolences to friends and family of Cathal Coughlan, who passed away last week. A maverick Irish genius, a gentleman and a poet.”

Stuart Clark, deputy editor of Hot Press magazine, wrote on Twitter: “Devastated to hear that Cathal Coughlan has died. One of the great rock 'n' roll mavericks. A contrarian who was also a lovely, lovely person. I always called him the Greatest Living Corkman – now he's a new domain to rule over.”


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