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YouTube Gold: Sinead O’Connor

You have to think that for those who suffer greatly, death may arrive as a liberation

Photo of Sinead O’CONNOR
Sinead O’ Connor
Photo by Hayley Madden/Redferns

Most people who paid attention to her would probably agree that Sinead O’Connor, who died recently, led a very sad life.

She claimed - and her brother confirmed - that their home was a very difficult one in which to grow up with a mother who apparently was an absolute lunatic.

She had multiple mental health issues throughout her life including at least one attempt at suicide and her son, Shane did take his own life in 2022, which devastated her. This came at the end of the Covid pandemic, which forced her into isolation and must also have been quite awful for someone who craved, but couldn’t seem to find, human connections.

She also had many physical difficulties, including fibromyalgia.

O’Connor seemed to constantly be looking for stability. She didn’t find it in marriage - all four of her marriages collapsed relatively early. She struggled to find it in faith, having a ferocious antagonism to the Catholic Church in which she was raised, famously (or infamously depending on your point of view) ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live and saying something like “fight the real enemy.” Later, she was ordained as a priest in the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church and in 2018, she converted to Islam.

It’s fair to say that she suffered greatly and her public behavior was erratic and controversial. However, no one ever questioned her talent. She was an immensely gifted singer.

In this video from Late Night with David Letterman, O’Connor appears with fellow Irish performers Van Morrison and the brilliant band the Chieftains, singing Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, his classic 1989 hit.

She seems happy here, shy and vulnerable, even sweet, which was not a word people associated with her very often. Fierce? Yes. Sweet? Not too often. But you can see a radiance in her here that she didn’t show very often.

It’s a nice way to remember someone who had a very difficult life.