Sinéad O’Connor funeral: Thousands gather to mourn singer in Ireland – National

On Tuesday morning, the people of Ireland said goodbye to singer and songwriter Sinéad O’Connor.

Thousands of mourning fans gathered in the seaside town of Bray in County Wicklow, Ireland, on Tuesday morning to pay their respects to O’Connor, who died last month. She was 56.

Teary-eyed admirers lined the streets with signs, candles and poems to watch the funeral procession pass. The singer’s family invited the public to watch the procession and send their best wishes, though the actual funeral was kept private.

According to the New York Times, the procession kept with tradition and carried the star’s coffin past her last family home. Outside the residence, fans left flowers, handwritten notes, gifts and photos of O’Connor throughout her long, tumultuous career.

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O’Connor lived in Bray for 15 years, the BBC reported.

People leave flowers and messages outside the former home of the late Sinéad O’Connor on Tuesday, in Bray, Ireland.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Her casket was carried in a classic Volkswagen van adorned with flowers and rainbow and Rastafarian flags. Music played from a speaker attached to the top, blasting a number of O’Connor’s own hits and her favourite songs, including Natural Mystic by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

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Fans danced, sang and cried to O’Connor’s music in the streets, with many people dressed in the colours of the Irish flag. Others held signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Gay Rights” and “Fight the Real Enemy,” a nod to O’Connor’s passion for social justice and advocacy.

People attend the funeral of 56-year-old Irish musician Sinéad O’Connor, in Bray, North Wicklow, Ireland on Tuesday.

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For many of O’Connor’s fans, her rebellious spirit and anti-establishment beliefs — particularly toward the Roman Catholic Church — are as important a legacy as her music.

“She was so passionate, and she was so forthright, and she stood up for people who couldn’t stand up for themselves,” said Pauline Scullion, a mourner who attended the funeral procession. “She spoke for people who couldn’t speak for themselves, and she was vilified for it, and that was just wrong. Time has proven that she was right.”

Sinéad O’Connor’s coffin is seen inside a classic Volkswagen van on Tuesday.

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Irish President Michael D Higgins, his wife Sabina and Irish Prime Minister (called Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar attended the private funeral service.

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“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,” Higgins said. “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.”

The cause of O’Connor’s death has not been released publicly. She was found unresponsive in her London home on July 26. Police have said the singer’s death is not suspicious.

O’Connor reached true superstardom when she released her cover of Prince’s ballad Nothing Compares 2 U in 1990, a shattering performance that topped charts from Europe to Australia.

Flowers and tributes are pictured outside the former home of Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, in Bray, eastern Ireland, ahead of her funeral on Tuesday.

Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

She was a lifelong non-conformist — she would say that she shaved her head in response to record executives pressuring her to be conventionally glamourous — but her political and cultural stances and troubled private life often overshadowed her music. O’Connor was also widely known for tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II while appearing live on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. 

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O’Connor announced in 2018 that she had converted to Islam and would be adopting the name Shuhada’ Sadaqat — although she continued to use Sinéad O’Connor professionally.

— With files from The Associated Press

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