In the scenic Irish seaside town of Bray, hundreds of individuals gathered to pay their respects during the funeral procession for the celebrated artist Sinead O’Connor, who passed away last month at the age of 56.
Gatherings to celebrate the musician’s life were held across Ireland, with O’Connor’s family choosing Bray — where she had lived for 15 years — as a place for fans to celebrate her life.
Chance to say ‘last goodbye’
The crowd spontaneously clapped and threw flowers on the front of a hearse carrying the singer’s coffin.
The car followed a Volkswagen camper van draped in LGBT+ pride flags and playing her music.
Family, friends and dignitaries mourned O’Connor at a funeral just ahead of the procession, with a private burial later.
Among those attending the service were Irish President Michael Higgins and Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, while activist and pop star Bob Geldof was part of the cortege.
Muslim funeral prayers were led by Umar Al-Qadri, Chief Imam at the Islamic Centre of Ireland, who shared his eulogy to O’Connor after the service.
“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,” he said.
O’Connor’s family organized the cortege through the town in County Wicklow, just south of Dublin, offering the public a chance to give her a “last goodbye.”
“Sinead loved living in Bray and the people in it,” a statement from the family said.
“With this procession, her family would like to acknowledge the outpouring of love for her from the people of Wicklow and beyond since she left last week to go to another place.”
A lifelong non-conformist
The Grammy award-winning singer was found unresponsive at her home in London last month.
She became an international sensation with her 1990 cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which topped music charts across the globe. The string-accompanied ballad won the 1990 Billboard Music Awards for Best Single in the World.
O’Connor had already received critical acclaim for her first album, “The Lion and the Cobra,” featuring her debut hit “Mandinka.” The singer released 10 studio albums in all.
Outspoken in her social and political views and regularly stirring up controversy, O’Connor was a lifelong non-conformist.
She was a critic of the Catholic Church long before allegations of sexual abuse were widely reported and made headlines by tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II in October 1992 while appearing on live television. O’Connor announced in 2018 that she had converted to Islam.
The singer, who married four times, had a troubled personal life. She was open about mental health issues on social media, saying she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
An autopsy has yet to determine the cause of O’Connor’s death, which London police said they were not treating as suspicious.