Former Fatima Mansions/Microdisney frontman Cathal Coughlan dead at 61

Cathal Coughlan RIP
(Image credit: Press)

Cathal Coughlan, the former frontman of Irish indie acts The Fatima Mansions and Microdisney, has died.

The Cork-born, London-based singer passed away in hospital on May 18, following a long illness, according to a statement released by his family.

Coughlan formed Microdisney in Cork with guitarist Sean O'Hagan in 1980, and the band signed to Rough Trade after relocating to London in 1983. The following year, Microdisney achieved a degree of notoriety on the indie scene with the release of their second album, We Hate You South African Bastards!, a title making clear their feelings on apartheid. They went on to score a Number One album on the national indie chart the following year with The Clock Comes Down The Stairs.

When the band split in 1988, Coughlan formed The Fatima Mansions, a group named after a Dublin housing estate. Coughlan's acerbic wit and fierce intelligence was obvious in the band's early singles, including the Thatcher-referencing Only Losers Take The Bus and the seething Blues for Ceausescu, and his confrontational character was never more obvious than when he elected to pretend to sodomise himself with a Virgin Mary-styled 'holy water' bottle during a June 1992 show supporting fellow countrymen U2 in Barcelona on the Dublin band's Zoo TV tour: "There was a noise, the like of which most people had never heard, in terms of hurt," the singer told the Irish edition The Mirror in 2021. "The anger was just deafening."

Post The Fatima Mansions, Coughlan recorded with Irish comedian Sean Hughes as Bubonique, and with Lukes Haines for the album North Sea Scrolls. More recently he formed Telefis with former Compulsion guitarist-turned-superstar producer Garrett 'Jacknife' Lee, who works with U2 and Snow Patrol.

The Coughlan family statement said a memorial ceremony would be held amongst close friends and family in the near future.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.