PRESIDENT of Ireland Michael D. Higgins has paid tribute to Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, whose death was announced this evening.
In a statement, the President said the singer’s work ‘joins those great contributions of Irish women who contributed to our lives’.
O’Connor, who rose to fame with the 1990 hit Nothing Compares 2 U, passed away at the age of 56, a year-and-a-half after the death of her 17-year-old son, Shane.
At the time, the singer said the third of her four children ‘had decided to end his earthly struggle’.
As well as being one of the music world’s most iconic voices, O’Connor was also outspoken in her beliefs.
She famously criticised the Catholic Church over clerical abuse by ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II on live TV and often spoke frankly about her mental health struggles.
‘Beautiful, unique voice’
President Higgins praised both O’Connor’s musical talent and the courage of her conviction when standing up for what she believed in.
“May I send my deepest condolences to Sinéad O’Connor’s father John, the members of her family and to all those with whom she shared her life,” said the President.
“My first reaction on hearing the news of Sinéad’s loss was to remember her extraordinarily beautiful, unique voice.
“What was striking in all of the recordings she made and in all of her appearances was the authenticity of the performance, while her commitment to the delivery of the song and its meaning was total.
“To those of us who had the privilege of knowing her, one couldn’t but always be struck by the depth of her fearless commitment to the important issues which she brought to public attention, no matter how uncomfortable those truths may have been.”
President Higgins described O’Connor as an ‘extraordinary’ vocalist whose talent was all the more impressive given her personal struggles.
He added that like other great Irish women, her work had left an indelible mark on Ireland and its people.
“What Ireland has lost at such a relatively young age is one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades, one who had a unique talent and extraordinary connection with her audience, all of whom held such love and warmth for her,” said President Higgins.
“The way in which she was able to move across the different forms of the arts was a singular achievement, as was the way her voice went around the world and how it was received.
“Her accomplishments included a body of work for film through the production of perfectly chosen and widely acclaimed lyrics.
“Sinéad O’Connor’s voice and delivery was in so many different ways original, extraordinary and left one with a deep, deep impression that to have accomplished all she did while carrying the burden which she did was a powerful achievement in its own way.
“Her contribution joins those great contributions of Irish women who contributed to our lives, its culture and its history in their own unique but unforgettable ways.
“May her spirit find the peace she sought in so many different ways.”