SINEAD O’CONNOR: Fans and admirers sing Nothing Compares 2 U in tribute


Sinéad O’Connor funeral: thousands follow singer’s cortege down Bray seafront in final goodbye

Thousands of people turned out to remember singer Sinéad O’Connor in Bray, Co Wicklow on Tuesday ahead of a private burial.

Fans lined Strand Road from early this morning with the funeral cortege passing her former home, Montebello, around noon.

The cortege stopped outside Montebello briefly where fans threw flowers and sang the singer’s best-known song, Nothing Compares 2 U.

The cortege was led by a Garda escort and a Volkswagen Transporter which played Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Natural Mystic from its speakers.

Aerial footage shows a thronged Bray, Co. Wicklow,  seafront as the funeral cortege of singer Sinead O’Connor made its way past her former home. Video: Alan Betson & John Cassidy 

The hearse contained a number of floral tributes and a large picture of Ms O’Connor.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina as well as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were among those who attended a private funeral service for Ms O’Connor this morning. Musicians Bono and Bob Geldof were also in attendance.

Survivors of mother and baby homes also gathered outside the former home of Ms O’Connor while family members and friends followed behind the cortege.

A large number of flowers and cards were left outside the home as well as candles and tricolours.

In a statement on Sunday, Ms O’Connor’s family said people would have “an opportunity to pay their final respects” when her funeral cortege travelled through the town.

The route began at The Harbour Bar end of Strand Road and continued for just over one kilometre along the road to the opposite end of the seafront.

At 12.30pm, after the cortege reached the end of the seafront, Irish radio stations agreed to play Nothing Compares 2 U in unison in tribute.

Irish musician Liam Ó Maonlaí was also among those gathered, and said Ms O’Connor “threw a line” to many people.

“People who felt they were the only type in the world, and they suddenly realised I’m not the only type in the world.

“She threw a line to those people just by singing a song…From the get go she was up against human pressure and she constantly was an alchemist transforming that into beauty.”

In a statement, President Higgins said: “The outpouring of grief and appreciation of the life and work of Sinéad O’Connor demonstrates the profound impact which she had on the Irish people.

“The unique contribution of Sinéad involved the experience of a great vulnerability combined with a superb, exceptional level of creativity that she chose to deliver through her voice, her music and her songs.”

Colm Duffy, who owns and drove the Volkswagen transporter which led the cortege, said it was “an honour to be asked to do this”.

“My van’s first outing was to go and see Sinéad ten years ago in Westport so it’s full circle,” he said.

Muslim funeral prayers were led by Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri at a private ceremony before the procession.

In a eulogy he shared online after the ceremony, Dr Al-Qadri said: “The more she sang and spoke about her own pain, as well as about the pervasive sins in society that she witnessed, the more her voice and her words resonated with listeners and touched their hearts.

“Sinead never stopped her search to know God fully, exemplifying a life marked with a deep communion with God.”

He added: “I know that peoples of all faiths throughout the world will be praying for this beloved daughter of Ireland, among them will be countless Muslims praying for their sister in faith and humanity.”

On RTÉ radio, he reflected: “I am the person that initiated her into Islam and it is a great honour and privilege for me, something that I will always cherish, that I was also the person that led the prayer this morning.”

The funeral service had shown “the beautiful, diverse personality and diverse identity and the journey that she had. The journey of our sister Sinead O’Connor was a journey full of trials, full of turbulences. But despite that, she always had faith in God. She always was a believer. And that is something that was reflected today at the beautiful ceremony.”

Handwritten notes left outside her former home thanked the singer for sharing her voice and her music.  One note said: “You are forever in my heart.”

A pink chair was placed outside the pink-framed conservatory of the house, located on the seafront, with pink flowers and a photo of the singer placed at the base of the chair.

One sign left at the wall of the property listed causes that the singer had expressed support for, including welcoming refugees: “Where words fail, music …”

A neighbour was also seen putting candles on the wall that separated the two properties.

Since her death on July 26th, people have been leaving flowers and paying their respects at the house, which the singer sold in 2021 and which now lies empty.

“Sinead loved living in Bray and the people in it,” a statement issued by her family said.

A giant installation honouring Sinéad O’Connor was unveiled on Bray Head. The project was a collaboration between creative agency, The Tenth Man and Mack Signs.

“With this procession, her family would like to acknowledge the outpouring of love for her from the people of Co Wicklow and beyond, since she left last week to go to another place.”

The Grammy-winning singer was found unresponsive by police at her south-east London home, aged 56. Additional reporting by PA

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

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