Mourners gather in Ireland to bid farewell to Sinead O’Connor

Fans line waterfront in Bray to pay their respects as singer and activist’s funeral procession passes by.

Large crowds of people have lined a coastal road in Ireland to pay their respects to Sinead O’Connor, the gifted singer and lifelong activist who died last week.

Fans on Tuesday left handwritten notes and flowers outside O’Connor’s former home in Bray, County Wicklow, thanking her for sharing her voice and her music. One sign listed causes that the superstar singer, who converted to Islam in 2018, had expressed support for, including welcoming refugees.

“Thanks for your short special life,” one note read. “Gone too soon.”

“She was so rebellious and empowering and inspiring, and my mother hated me listening to her music,” said Ruth O’Shea, who had come to Bray, south of the capital, Dublin, with her two daughters.

“She was just brilliant. Brilliant – I loved her, and then the kids, I suppose by osmosis because I played her when they were both growing up, they’d go, ‘Oh God, mum’s listening to Sinead O’Connor, she’s obviously had a rough day.’ She just gave me hope. And I just loved her, I loved her.”

Funeral of Irish Singer Sinead O'Connor
A note is placed next to flowers outside Sinead O’Connor’s former home [Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]

O’Connor, 56, was found unresponsive at her London home on July 26. Police have not shared a cause of death, though they said her death was not suspicious.

O’Connor’s family invited the public to line the waterfront as her funeral procession passed by, following a private service.

“Sinead loved living in Bray and the people in it,” her family said in a statement. “With this procession, her family would like to acknowledge the outpouring of love for her from the people of Wicklow (county) and beyond, since she left … to go to another place.”

O’Connor, a multi-octave mezzo-soprano of extraordinary emotional range who was recognisable by her shaved head, began her career singing on the streets of Dublin and soon rose to international fame.

She became a sensation in 1990 with her cover of Prince’s ballad Nothing Compares 2 U, which topped charts from Europe to Australia.

The song received three Grammy nominations and was the featured track on her acclaimed album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which helped lead Rolling Stone to name her Artist of the Year in 1991.INTERACTIVE -SINEAD OCONNOR OBIT

O’Connor’s other musical credits included the albums, Universal Mother and Faith and Courage, a cover of Cole Porter’s You Do Something to Me, from the AIDS fundraising album Red Hot + Blue, and backing vocals on Peter Gabriel’s Blood of Eden. She received eight Grammy nominations and in 1991 won for best alternative musical performance.

After converting to Islam, she took on the Muslim name Shuhada’ Davitt – later changing it to Shuhada Sadaqat – but continued to use the name Sinead O’Connor professionally.

A lifelong nonconformist, she said she shaved her head in response to record executives pressuring her to be conventionally glamorous.

She was a critic of the Roman Catholic Church well before allegations of sexual abuse were widely reported. She made headlines in October 1992 when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while appearing on NBC’s Saturday Night Live and denounced the church as the enemy.

She was public about her struggles with mental illness. When her teenage son Shane died by suicide last year, O’Connor tweeted there was “no point living without him” and she was soon hospitalised. Her final tweet, sent July 17, read “For all mothers of Suicided children,” and linked to a Tibetan compassion mantra.

Since her death, celebrities have paid tribute to her, and people have shared acts of kindness she performed.

Funeral of Irish Singer Sinead O'Connor
Fans gather in Bray to say their last goodbye to the singer [Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies