Shane MacGowan admitted he was plagued by guilt at not joining the IRA at the height of the Troubles.

The legendary Pogues frontman said his Irish parents' republican background and the alienation and resentment he experienced growing up in London in the 60s and 70s filled him with hatred towards his adopted country.

But the 57-year-old singer-songwriter admits he never had the nerve to sign up to the Provos and instead channelled his anger through his music.

He said: "I always felt guilty because I didn't lay down my life for Ireland. I felt ashamed that I didn't have the guts to join the IRA, so the Pogues was my way of overcoming that guilt."

MacGowan's acknowledgement that he once wished he had joined the IRA was highlighted in a recent in-depth profile on the colourful musician by New York-based City Journal.

The publication drew on several of his most memorable interviews, including his quasi-autobiography, "A Drink With Shane MacGowan".

In the popular memoir, MacGowan also recalls his early childhood memories - prior to his move to London - in his devoutly-Catholic family's ancestral farmhouse in Co. Tipperary.

He said: "Their wish was to have a priest in the family, instead of a drunk. It was one step up for everybody if I became a priest.

"I was brought up mainly by my mother's family in Tipperary, because although my parents both had jobs in England, they were very unhappy there and wanted me to have as much happiness as possible before I had to go to school.

"The family home in Tipperary was a safe house for the old IRA, during the Black and Tans war. My uncle Mick had been the local commandant. It was always an open house - people would come around at all hours and there would be dancing and card-playing and boozing and singing.

"It was like living in a pub. I was smoking and drinking and gambling before I could talk. And that is how I became a religious maniac and a total hedonist at the same time."

He also admitted he feels lucky to be alive, given his well-publicised hellraising lifestyle.

He has said: "For the last 35 years I was supposed to have been dead in six months. But when all these bastards say you're going to be dead in six months, it tends to give you an incentive not to be. Let's face it, I've got a charmed life. I'm a lucky bastard, know what I mean?"