Sinéad O'Connor's poignant final photo and last public words revealed, after the Irish pop icon dies aged 56

27 July 2023, 05:18 | Updated: 27 July 2023, 14:30

Sinead O'Connor has died aged 56
Sinead O'Connor has died aged 56. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Sinéad O'Connor's poignant final photo and last public words have been revealed, after the singer died aged 56 on Thursday.

Her death comes 16 months after her son Shane passed away in January last year aged just 17, after going missing from Tallaght Hospital following years of mental health struggles.

In her final social media post on July 17 she tweeted a picture of Shane and wrote: "Been living as undead night creature since... He was the love of my life, the lamp of my soul.

"We were one soul in two halves. He was the only person who ever loved me unconditionally. I am lost in the bardo without him."

Her final public photo came in March, when she was pictured accepting the Classic Irish Album award at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize in Dublin.

She can be seen smiling and laughing with fans as she receives the award.

Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O'Connor. Picture: Getty

O'Connor acquired an iconic status in Ireland over the years due to her vocal challenges to issues of misogyny, abuse and “uncomfortable truths” - particularly in the 80s and 90s.

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

Tribute poured in after the news of her death emerged, as politicians, stars and fans shared their memories of the beloved star.

Irish TV presenter Brendan Courtney said the atmosphere in her home country was similar to the mood after Princess Diana died.

"We're very shocked - the outpouring is unbelievable," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari. "It's like we've lost a troubled daughter before we got the opportunity to tell her how much we loved her".

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said: “Really sorry to hear of the passing of Sinéad O’Connor. Her music was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare.”

Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O'Connor. Picture: Getty

While Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor wrote: “The world has lost an artist with the voice of an angel.

“Ireland has lost an iconic voice and one of our absolute finest, by a long shot. And I have lost a friend. Sinead's music will live on and continue to inspire! Rest In Peace, Sinead you are home with your son I am sure.”

In a statement on Wednesday, the singer's family said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad. Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."

She shot to fame across the world in 1990 by her heartrending cover of Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U.

Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O'Connor. Picture: Getty

Canadian singer Bryan Adams said he “loved working with [her] making photos, doing gigs in Ireland together and chat”.

Tim Burgess, lead singer of British rock band the Charlatans, wrote: “She did not compromise and that made her life more of a struggle. Hoping that she has found peace.”

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Sinead O'Connor pictured in 1998
Sinead O'Connor pictured in 1998. Picture: Alamy

US rapper Ice-T said: “Respect to Sinead….. She stood for something… Unlike most people…. Rest Easy.”

She is survived by her three children. Her son, Shane, died last year aged 17.

TV presenter and Irish journalist Conor Pope said: “There aren’t many news stories that will stop almost every Irish person in their tracks. This very sad news is one of them. RIP to one of the finest singers of this - or any - generation.”

Irish comedian Dara O'Briain was among the first to pay tribute, writing online: "Ah s****, Sinead O'Connor has died. That's just very sad news. Poor thing. I hope she realised how much love there was for her."

Sinead's son died by suicide 18 months ago.
Sinead's son died by suicide 18 months ago. Picture: Twitter
Sinead O&squot;Connor receives the Classic Irish Album award for "I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got" at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize back in March
Sinead O'Connor receives the Classic Irish Album award for "I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got" at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize back in March. Picture: Getty

Announcing her son's death last year, she wrote: "My beautiful son, Nevi’im Nesta Ali Shane O’Connor, the very light of my life, decided to end his earthly struggle today and is now with God. May he rest in peace and may no one follow his example. My baby. I love you so much. Please be at peace."

Earlier this year she 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.

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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Her breakthrough hit came in 1990, the power ballad Nothing Compares 2 U, which topped charts in 13 countries.

The hit's iconic music video was filmed as a close-up on Sinead's face while singing in a black polo neck while tears run down her face. Sinead had said in previous interview that her tears in the video were genuine.