The Word on the Week

Sinéad O’Connor  

Sinéad O’Connor             Word on the Week                     29th July 2023.

It was on Wednesday morning that the police found her body in her London flat.   Sinéad O’Connor, the icon of the Irish music scene, was no more.   A huge groundswell of appreciation has poured from the media which shows no signs of stopping.

Songwriter, poet and singer where among her accomplishments but it will be largely for her singing that she will be remembered.    Her voice was unique.   Her singing was from the heart.   She put her whole soul into her songs and the audience entered into the full weight of their meaning.

She had a troubled childhood which resulted in her being treated in St Patrick’s mental health service over a period of six years.   What she experienced in the residential institution, An Grianan, where elderly Magdalene Laundry women went in their old age, was formative.

She was characterised by her honesty.   She did not do nuance!    This resulted in her outspoken-ness sometimes being misunderstood.   One occasion which lives on in the collective memory was her ripping up of the Pope’s photograph on stage.   This was part of her persona as a protest singer.   The protest was before its time as child abuse by the Catholic Church had not yet been revealed.

Her shaved head was in response to a record company’s executive wish to cash in on her beauty.   He wanted her in high heels and a short skirt!    She appeared in a dress and boots!

The death of her vulnerable son, Shane, last year at age 17 had a profound effect on her.    She was strongly protective of him so his suicide was doubly hard.   One of her last postings on social media spoke of her living as an “undead night creature since….he was the love of my life, the lamp of my soul.”

Sinéad had tried out the world’s major religions.   She went wholeheartedly into them, adopting their distinctive dress and attempting to copy their rituals.  It seems that she found comfort in ‘bardo’ latterly.   This is the state between death and rebirth that is practiced in Eastern religions.   

Perhaps she also knew that Jesus has said: – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.   Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die (St John 11 verses 24 to 26).

May it be so for Sinéad.