Tributes pour in for beloved singer Sinéad O’Connor who passed away aged 56

The Irish music icon is being remembered far and wide for both her talent and rebellious activism.

Sinéad O'Connor smiling on The Late Late Show in 1990.
Image: Twitter: @Adlers1

On the evening of Wednesday, July 26, tributes poured in after it was sadly announced that Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, also known as Shuhada’ Sadaqat, has passed away, aged 56.

The news was confirmed by the Grammy-nominated star’s family, who released a statement reading: “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.”

According to the Metropolitan Police, O’Connor was found unresponsive on Wednesday morning at a residential address in London and was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities are not treating the death as suspicious.

Tributes have been pouring in for Sinéad O’Connor, with President Michael D Higgins saying: “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.

“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.”


Taoiseach Leo Vardkar also paid respect, writing: “Her music was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare.”

Other members of the Irish LGBTQ+ community have similarly shared their tributes, remembering the resounding impact that Sinéad O’Connor made.

Panti Bliss described the singer as “A beautiful soul, an incredible talent,” adding, “She meant a lot to so many, including me.”


Writer Una Mullally said, “She was quiet and loud. Brilliant and bashful. Earnest and mischievous. From her sprang forth the kind of creative lava that seeps and explodes from the tectonic shifting of genius and trauma.”

Mullally added, “She had the bravery to be authentic in an inauthentic place, a place that tried to hide people such as her, that attempted to sideline bolshie women, that demeaned female sexuality, and that rejected rebelliousness.”

Irish LGBTQ+ activist Dr Michael Barron credited O’Connor with blowing “the doors open on what it meant to be Irish”, while staff members of TENI highlighted her allyship, as she previously donated clothes and make-up to the organisation for trans folk in need.




Her support for people living with HIV was also acknowledged by MPOWER’s Adam Shanley, who shared an image of her wearing a Dublin AIDS Alliance t-shirt on The Late Late Show in 1990.


International stars have also weighed in on the sad news, such as Melissa Etheridge and Jamie Lee Curtis.



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Born on December 8, 1966, Sinéad O’Connor emerged onto the music scene in the 1980s in a band called Ton Ton Macoute. However, it was her solo career that really shot her to fame, releasing her first of 10 albums, The Lion and the Cobra, in 1987.

Her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, was a major global success, with the leading track and arguably her most famous song ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ named the number one single in the world in 1990 by the Billboard Music Awards.


O’Connor made headlines on several occasions, perhaps no more so than in 1992 following her Saturday Night Live appearance. Performing as a musical guest on the show, the singer ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II while covering Bob Marley’s ‘War’, in an act of protest against the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church.

“Fight the real enemy,” she said, throwing the torn-up paper towards the camera.

The iconic moment triggered widespread condemnation, but when asked in 2022 if she would change what she did, O’Connor replied, “Hell no!”

This is just one of several examples of the musician’s rebellious activism, a quality which ultimately earned her the respect and admiration of many.

Sinéad was the cover star of GCN Magazine in September 2014, and speaking to Brian Finnegan about who her audience is, she said, “I think across the board, male or female, it’s people who have had issues around being themselves, who’ve had pressure put on them to not be who they really are.

“I think I’m someone who comes from that kind of world. There has been a lot of pressure on me to be other than I am, and I’ve got a lot of stick for who I am, good or bad. I think in that case I have an empowering effect on people, on my audience. One is encouraged by certain people in the world to be who one really is.”

She added, “I think that gay people have had a lot of pressure not to be themselves…I went to London when I was 17 and I had a straight cross-dressing cousin and he used to bring me to all these places like The Hippodrome, which was full of guys in the girls’ toilet, looking more gorgeous than any girls. Or Kensington Market, where they were selling size twelve red stiletto boots for men.

“That day in Kensington Market, I thought, ‘Fuck this, I’m going to be me. Because if these guys are brave enough to be themselves, then there’s no reason for anyone not to be themselves’. So, it’s cool, we can exchange inspiration.”

Sinéad O’Connor is survived by her children Jake, Róisín and Yeshua, and a grandchild. Her death comes 18 months after her 17-year-old son Shane died by suicide in January 2022. Rest in Power.

Members of the Irish LGBTQ+ community are holding a vigil in her honour in The Hollow on Tuesday, August 1 at 7pm. The night will host live performances from Ragin Spice, The Wild Geeze, Ian Lynham, eris, Ollie Bell, Lily Boss, Saturn WölfflöW and a handful of other very special guests, and there will be live art from deaddeer.ttt and Kevin Bohan.



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