Irish Singer Sinéad O’Connor Dies at 56

Irish Singer Sinéad O’Connor Dies at 56

Sinéad O’Connor, the world-renowned Irish singer, has died at the age of 56.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” her family said in a statement. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

It comes just over a year after her son, Shane, died by suicide at the age of 17. O’Connor is survived by her three children: Jake, Roisin and Yeshua.

Following Shane’s death in January 2022, O’Connor posted a serious of distressing tweets on an unverified account indicating her intentions to “follow” her son, later adding that she was with police and headed to the hospital. She apologized for upsetting her fans the following day.

A verified video recently posted to Twitter by Irish singer–reportedly the last taken while she was alive—resurfaced in the wake of her death. In it, the Irish pop star opened up about the impact Shane’s suicide late last year. “Your kid unfortunately passing away—it isn’t good for one’s body or soul,” O’Connor said in the video, in which she also offered fans a tour of her flat and apologized for looking “like sh-t.”

A cause of death was not released on Wednesday.

O’Connor, pictured in 1988, had the No. 1 world single in 1990.


Frans Schellekens/Redferns via Getty

Born in Dublin, O’Connor released her debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, in 1987 to international success. Her sophomore album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, released three years later, featured “Nothing Compares 2 U” as its lead single, which was named the No. 1 world single in 1990 by the Billboard Music Awards.

O’Connor went on to release 10 studio albums. She was known for her unapologetic activism, spiritualism, and honesty about her mental health. She converted to Islam in 2018, adopting the name Shuhada’ Sadaqat.

At the peak of her popularity, O’Connor’s status as a beloved public icon came crashing down in 1992 when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live to protest pedophilia in the Catholic Church. After that, her presence was a polarizing one, and one that oozed controversy—much to her own delight.

“The media was making me out to be crazy because I wasn’t acting like a pop star was supposed to act,” O’Connor told The New York Times in 2021. “It seems to me that being a pop star is almost like being in a type of prison. You have to be a good girl.”

O’Connor was dragged in the media and by many fellow stars after the stunt, but she always held that she had no regrets about it.

“I’m not sorry I did it. It was brilliant,” she told the Times. “But it was very traumatizing,” she added. “It was open season on treating me like a crazy bitch.”

Her impenitent advocacy was unwavering, on full display as recently as this year. Back in March, O’Connor won the inaugural Classic Irish Album award at the RTÉ Choice Music Awards for I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. She 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 when accepting the honor.

O’Connor pictured performing in San Francisco in February 2020.

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty

Forever an outspoken advocate for human rights, O’Connor was lauded Wednesday by the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman.

“It is hard to think of an artist who has had the social and cultural impact of Sinead,” O’Gorman said. “What a loss. Heartfelt condolences to her children, her family and all who loved her.”

If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. You can also text or dial 988.

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