Life and activism of Sinéad O'Connor explored in new RTÉ documentary

The new documentary will feature interviews with those closest to Sinéad O'Connor, the legendary singer and activist who died in July 2023.

The image shows a black and white photograph of Sinéad O'Connor who is the focus of a new documentary. In the photograph, she is holding a microphone to her mouth and has her eyes closed. Her head is fully shaved and she is wearing a loose shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
Image: @sineadoconnorvault via Instagram

Just five and a half months on from the tragic death of Sinéad O’Connor, RTÉ is set to air a brand new documentary about the beloved singer’s life.

Sinéad, an hour-long programme, will screen tonight, Monday, January 8, on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player at 9:35pm. It combines archival footage and interviews with those closest to the controversial songstress, including well-known names such as Christy Moore, Imelda May, David Holmes and BP Fallon.

As well as focusing on the importance of her songwriting, the documentary will explore seminal moments in her career, from her regular appearances on The Late Late Show to the ripping up of a picture of Pope John Paul II, which led to Sinéad O’Connor becoming the centre of international debate.

Never one to adhere to stereotypes, Christy Moore sums O’Connor up perfectly when he says, “She had a rebel heart, a rebel soul. She wasn’t a mainstream girl.”

Billed as “a tender tribute to one of Ireland’s finest musicians”, the documentary acknowledges O’Connor’s life-long struggle with mental health but also pays tribute to her contribution as one of the country’s most outspoken cultural figures, especially concerning her stance on catholicism, feminism and the media.

As well as actively speaking out about the historic injustices of Ireland towards women, O’Connor paved the way for future generations of women, particularly in the male-dominated music industry. Imelda May describes, “We always will be thankful for everything she did for us as women in Ireland”.

O’Connor was also a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. One early appearance on The Late Late Show, as featured in the new documentary, demonstrated this when she challenged the late English comedian Kenny Everett, who was openly gay, about his support of the Tory party and how he was able to reconcile this with the introduction of Section 28 (legislation passed in 1988 under Margaret Thatcher which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities).

It is impossible to sum up the full impact that O’Connor had on Irish society, both culturally and socially, but the new documentary Sinéad goes some way to paying tribute to the legendary trailblazer.


Sinéad airs on Monday, January 8 at 9:35pm on RTÉ One & RTÉ Player.

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