Ireland Says Goodbye to Sinéad O’Connor

Floral tributes were piled high on Tuesday in front of the former home of the Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor in the small coastal town of Bray, as thousands of mourners prepared to pay their last respects on the day of her funeral.

Ms. O’Connor, who was found dead in her London apartment last month, had converted to Islam in 2018, and her family planned to give her a private Muslim burial on Tuesday.

But, in accordance with an old Irish custom, her coffin will first be carried past her last home in Ireland, on the seaside promenade in Bray, just south of the capital, and the public has been invited to come there for a last farewell.

Two days earlier, in the latest of a rolling wave of tributes, a creative agency had temporarily augmented a World War II territorial marker on nearby Bray Head to celebrate the late singer. Where once it said “Eire” — an old name for Ireland — to warn belligerent aircraft that they were approaching neutral Irish territory, the giant sign now says “Eire 🤍 Sinéad.”

Courageous, passionate, often controversial, Ms. O’Connor had slowly become, in the eyes of many, a national treasure, a woman who spoke up for the weak and oppressed, and who took an early stand against the abuses of the Catholic Church in Ireland and elsewhere.

Her own public struggles with mental health inspired protective feelings in fans and supporters, and added to the grief at news of her untimely death at age 56. Although an autopsy has been completed in London, no cause of death has yet been revealed.

Ms. O’Connor, performing in Avenches, Switzerland in 2008, had become a national treasure in the eyes of many.Credit…Ennio Leanza/EPA, via Shutterstock

Over the weekend, performers and crowds came together at summer music festivals around the island to sing some of the musician’s most beloved songs, such as “Mandinka,” and “Black Boys on Mopeds.”

The week before, the crowd fell silent, then applauded, at Ireland’s biggest sporting occasion, the inter-county Gaelic football final in Dublin’s 80,000-capacity Croke Park, as the big screens played the iconic video of her version of “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

Even the Catholic Church, famously the target of her anger, has paid respects. Speaking last week, before the annual ancient pilgrimage to climb Croagh Patrick in the west of Ireland, the Catholic primate of Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, said he had heard many stories about her kindness.

“Clearly her own trauma and her own personal experiences made her a very compassionate person who reached out to the marginalized — she had real empathy. God rest her troubled soul.”

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