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OMG Shane McGowan has died.

Whether or not you enjoyed the music, he fronted the anglo-irish punk band The Pogues.

Wikipedia says their music was pretty edgy. Considering the history of the band’s name that’s not real surprising.

My interest in The Pogues got twigged when we were shopping in Galway, Ireland in 2010. I was looking for the perfect blackthorn cane. Some Irish friends of mine called it a Shillelagh: a walking stick. (Or a club, depending on your personality and temperament.)

Somehow my parents had come into possession of a blackthorn cane belonging to one of my dad’s older brothers. It had been given to him by the nurses at a convalescent hospital in Ireland where he had spent some time recovering from injuries sustained in WWII.

Since then I had always wanted a blackthorn. Turns out that every tourist-oriented shop in Ireland has a barrel of these things for sale. And no wonder. They’re lighter than aluminum and immensely strong. And they have a knobbly old-guy character. Perhaps it suits me hey? I found one. Perfect.

More importantly, in the next aisle there was a stash of some curious North American style vanity license plates reading Pog Mo Thoin. And here’s where it connects to Shane McGowan and The Pogues: The original name of the band was Pogue Mahone. The Beeb (the BBC), in censorship mode, would not allow their music to be played as Pogue Mahone, so they had to change the name.

And I, having found out the back story from a salesperson, and now understanding that these were rude license plates, could not resist buying a pair.

It looks funny on my Smart Car, which inspired the comment by an Irishwoman: “Are you allowed to do that in the Yukon?”

My vintage three tonner got the other plate, and I was picking up a load of compost from the city’s pile at the dump when the Irish guy in charge commented “Paddy are ye?

Pog Mo Thoin, pronounced Pogue Mahone is “Kiss me arse” in Irish.

Irish people get it, whether they’re amused or offended. If you’re amused, well kiss me, I’m sorta Irish. Otherwise, I hope you’ve paid attention…

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