Bono and Bob Geldof lead mourners at Sinead O'Connor's funeral as thousands of sobbing fans line streets

8 August 2023, 13:54 | Updated: 8 August 2023, 14:06

Bono and Bob Geldof lead mourners for Sinead O'Connor's funeral
Bono and Bob Geldof lead mourners for Sinead O'Connor's funeral. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Irish musical stars including members of U2 and Bob Geldof joined mourners for Sinead O'Connor's funeral as her coffin was cheered through the streets of Bray led by a VW campervan playing Bob Marley and her own hits.

More than 3,000 people gathered in her home town to mourn the star with many sobbing while singing 'Nothing Compares to U' in a moving final farewell following her sudden death in London last month aged 56.

The family of the singer, who died aged 56 last month, held a private memorial service this morning attended by the president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Stars including Bono, the Edge and Bob Geldof were also there.

Sinead was found unresponsive at her home in London aged 56 - just 18 months after the death of her 17-year-old son Shane.

Sinead's eulogy said she "suffered more than her share of hardship and adversity".

Fans of singer Sinead O'Connor line the streets for a 'last goodbye' to the Irish singer as her funeral cortege passes through her former hometown of Bray, Co Wicklow, ahead of a private burial service. Picture date: Tuesday August 8, 2023.
Fans of singer Sinead O'Connor line the streets for a 'last goodbye' to the Irish singer as her funeral cortege passes through her former hometown of Bray, Co Wicklow, ahead of a private burial service. Picture date: Tuesday August 8, 2023. Picture: Alamy

Imam Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri added: "Gifted with a voice that moved a generation of young people, she could reduce listeners to tears by her otherworldly resonance. 

Sinead's voice carried with it an undertone of hope, of finding one's way home. The Irish people have long found solace in song from the sufferings of this lower abode, and Sinead was no exception, and in sharing that solace, she brought joy to countless people the world over."

A woman who flew halfway across the world to say farewell to Sinead O'Connor has described a moment she will remember for the rest of her life.

Karnamrita Dasi, 49, a singer from San Francisco, booked a flight to Ireland as soon as she heard the news of the Irish performer's death.

"The first time I heard it (news of O'Connor's death), I didn't believe it and I knew I had to be with people who felt as powerfully as I did about how much of an impact she made," she told the PA news agency.

The acclaimed singer's family had asked people who wished to say a 'last goodbye' to stand along Bray seafront in Co Wicklow as the cortege passed by this lunchtime, to the sound of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Natural Mystic.

Woman travels from San Francisco to say farewell to Sinead O’Connor

Fans of singer Sinead O'Connor line the streets for a 'last goodbye' to the Irish singer as her funeral cortege passes through her former hometown of Bray, Co Wicklow, ahead of a private burial service. Picture date: Tuesday August 8, 2023.
Fans of singer Sinead O'Connor line the streets for a 'last goodbye' to the Irish singer as her funeral cortege passes through her former hometown of Bray, Co Wicklow, ahead of a private burial service. Picture date: Tuesday August 8, 2023. Picture: Alamy
A Garda officer talking to people outside the former home of the late singer in Bray, Co Wicklow, ahead of the funeral today. Picture date: Tuesday August 8, 2023.
A Garda officer talking to people outside the former home of the late singer in Bray, Co Wicklow, ahead of the funeral today. Picture date: Tuesday August 8, 2023. Picture: Alamy
Fans have lined the streets of Bray in eastern Ireland
Fans have lined the streets of Bray in eastern Ireland. Picture: Getty
Sinead O'Connor died on July 26
Sinead O'Connor died on July 26. Picture: Getty

The acclaimed singer's family had asked people who wished to say a 'last goodbye' to stand along Bray seafront in Co Wicklow as the cortege passed by this lunchtime, to the sound of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Natural Mystic.

A Volkswagen camper led the hearse carrying her on her final journey with mourners throwing flowers on to the roof and bonnet. 

It then stopped outside her former home for several minutes so mourners could pay their respects. Many stepped into the road to touch the vehicle.

Another VW decorated with flowers and Pride flags was also outside Sinead's former home and played some of her songs from speakers mounted on the roof. Fans sang along to her song 'Nothing Compares to U' and some wiped away tears when the song "Scarlet Ribbons", which has lyrics about "living to a hundred", was played. The crowd of broke into applause as each song ended.

Sinead, a mother-of-four survived by her three living children, was found dead in her penthouse flat in Herne Hill on July 26 - the cause of death has not yet been revealed.

She was laid to rest in her beloved Ireland with a traditional Muslim burial following her conversion in 2018.

Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri said: "The funeral was obviously private (for) the family and it was a very moving ceremony and I think it really reflected the beautiful personality of Sinead.

"It was very spiritual and it reflected her Irish identity as well as her Muslim identity.

"So I was with the members of the Muslim community and we performed the Janazah prayer, which is the Islamic funeral prayer, over Sinead."

He also said that O'Connor "never moved away from God' unlike others who have 'difficulties and trials" in their lives.

Dr Umar Al-Qadri said: "She was an amazing human being who was not just a great musician, artist, but one that would reach hearts of millions of people because of her voice but also because of the amazing content... She had always had strong faith and conviction in God."

A note left outside Sinead O'Connor's former home in Bray, eastern Ireland
A note left outside Sinead O'Connor's former home in Bray, eastern Ireland. Picture: Alamy
Flowers and tributes are pictured outside the former home of Irish singer Sinead O'Connor, in Bray, eastern Ireland
Flowers and tributes are pictured outside the former home of Irish singer Sinead O'Connor, in Bray, eastern Ireland. Picture: Getty

Tributes include photos of the Irish music legend, as well notes referencing her iconic music.

“You are forever in my heart,” one tribute from a mourner reads.

Another note lists all the charities Grammy winner Sinead worked with throughout her life, adding the words: “Where words fail, music speaks.”

Another fan described her as a woman “for the women of Ireland”.

Read More: Sinead O'Connor's remains released to family following post-mortem after singer's shock death

Read More: Sir Bob Geldof reveals final texts of ‘desperation, despair and sorrow’ from Sinead O’Connor in weeks before her death

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, and his wife, Sabina, will attend Sinead’s private funeral service later today.

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.

"The expression of both, without making any attempt to reduce the one for the sake of the other, made her contribution unique - phenomenal in music terms, but of immense heroism.

He added: “However, achieving this came from the one heart and the one body and the one life, which extracted an incredible pain, perhaps one too much to bear.

"That is why all those who are seeking to make a fist of their life, combining its different dimensions in their own way, can feel so free to express their grief at her loss.”

The Irish singer, known for classic songs Nothing Compares 2 U and Mandinka, was presented with the inaugural award for Classic Irish Album at the RTÉ Choice Music Awards.

She received a standing ovation for the 1990 hit ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got’ and dedicated the award to “each and every member of Ireland’s refugee community”.

“You’re very welcome in Ireland. I love you very much and I wish you happiness,” she said during a rare public appearance.

Notes have been left honouring the Irish music legend's memory
Notes have been left honouring the Irish music legend's memory. Picture: Getty
Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O'Connor. Picture: Alamy

She had struggled with her mental health in recent years, saying on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2007 that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder four years earlier.

In 2012 she announced on her website that she was ‘very unwell,’ having suffered a breakdown towards the end of 2011.

In 2014 however she said she was not bipolar and blamed her mental state on hormone-replacement therapy following a hysterectomy.

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