Cathal Coughlan Has Died, Aged 61

The frontman of Irish indie bands Microdisney and Fatima Mansions has died after a long illness

Cathal Coughlan, frontman with Irish indie bands Microdisney and Fatima Mansions, has died, aged 61.

His family confirmed the news today (May 23) in a statement, revealing that Coughlan "slipped away peacefully in hospital after a long illness" on May 18. He leaves behind his wife, Julie.

Born in Cork, Coughlan formed Microdisney with guitarist Sean O’Hagan in 1980, later relocating to London in 1983 and becoming a five-piece. The group released four studio albums, starting with 1984’s Everybody Is Fantastic and ending with 1988’s 39 Minutes. The first two were released through Rough Trade, while their latter records arrived through major label Virgin.

During their time together, the band recorded several BBC radio sessions for John Peel, which were collected together for 1989’s The Peel Sessions Album. 1987 single ‘Town To Town’, from penultimate studio album Crooked Mile, also saw them almost score a UK top 40 single in their closest step towards mainstream success. The band split in 1988, returning only in 2018 for two reunion concerts at Dublin’s National Concert Hall and the Barbican in London.

Following the disbandment of Microdisney, Coughlan formed Fatima Mansions, broadening his sound significantly from the smoother indie that had defined his first band to fold in elements of punk and alternative rock. They released their debut album, Against Nature in 1989 through Kitchenware Records, the label that released their four other studio albums through to their split in the mid-’90s. The band landed a top 10 UK hit with a trip-hop cover of Bryan Adams’ ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ in 1982, released on a double A-side single with Manic Street Preachers’ cover of the theme from MASH.

Other musical projects saw Coughlan team up with comedian Sean Hughes as the duo Bubonique, and with producer Jacknife Lee as Telefís, who released their first and only album, a hAon, earlier this year. As a solo artist, Coughlan released a number of full-length records, starting with 1996’s Grand Necropolitan and ending with last year’s Song Of Co-Aklan.

In a tribute to Coughlan, Tim Burgess tweeted: "His brilliant songs remain. Play them loud and remember him."

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