Peace Be With You: The Life and Times of Sinead O’ Connor

Even in death, Sinead O’ Connor still has that ability to rouse passionate debate. Regardless of how she has lived her life the past thirty years, Sinead O’ Connor will always and forever be noted for her decision to rip up the Pope’s photo at the end of her performance on Saturday Night Live in 1992. When she first did that, the reaction against her was white hot. It effectively ended her public career in North America just as it was getting started. I wrote about that incident and the fallout that came about as a result in a previous post that you can read here.

However, as it turned out, Sinead was correct to call out the Catholic Church over its practice of shielding priests who committed acts of sexual abuse on children. In the time since she so famously tore that photo up on live TV, her stance has been vindicated. Thus, when her death was first announced, the overwhelming sentiment expressed by fans was that she had been courageous in taking such a risk-laden stand. A few days after that, a new backlash began to emerge online. This time, it was a chorus of people who claimed that today’s mourners were hypocrites because they had never expressed public support for O’ Connor until after her death. In the middle of all the hue and cry, what got lost was her music. Her music was always at the heart of everything Sinead O’ Connor valued herself. To her, it was always all that ever mattered.

I have always believed that Sinead O’ Connor possessed one of the most beautiful and powerful singing voices ever. This was especially so when she burst onto the music scene with songs such as “Mandinka”, “Nothing Compares to U” and my personal favourite, “The Last Day of our Acquaintance”. But when the media frenzy overwhelmed her and she ended up wiping her hands clean of the industry as a whole, Sinead O’ Connor never stopped singing. She simply stopped playing the corporate music world’s game. In the decades that followed her withdrawal from the big stages of the world, Sinead returned to her roots. She went back home to Ireland and spent much time singing songs that drew upon her Irish heritage. She released albums filled with Irish songs that connected the history of Ireland with the lives and politics of those who live there today. She sang as a solo artist but also appeared as a guest collaborator with many famous and not so famous singers and bands. As time went on, these guest appearances became increasingly popular. When she married her voice with that of her island’s history, it helped remind all who heard her that she was a national treasure. While it may have appeared to those of us on the other side of the world that she had gone quiet and abandoned her career, that would have been incorrect. We often create traps for ourselves when we define what constitutes a successful career by commercial success standards only. Sinead O’ Connor refused to attend the Grammy Awards when “Nothing Compares to U” went viral because she opposed the commercialization of the music industry. That she spent her whole life singing quietly yet, purposefully out of the spotlight should have actually surpassed no one who knew anything about her.

Yes, she was courageous to have spoken out against such a powerful institution as the Catholic Church on national TV. But, that one act didn’t define her. It may have done so for those too lazy to look at what was really going on but it didn’t define her for herself or for those who lived near her in her Irish homeland. When viewed through a different lens, it is easy to see that Sinead O’ Connor had a wonderful career. She sang because it inspired others when they heard her voice. She sang because it was a meaningful and political act. She sang because it gave her pleasure and purpose for her to do so. Now that she has passed on, it behooves us to leave her in peace. I am grateful that I am able to continue to listen to her commercial music catalogue but just as thankful to hear her sing Irish songs that act as my introduction to the history and culture of a grand and glorious country and people. You have more than earned your rest, Sinead. May peace be with you now and forever more.

The link to the official website for Sinead O’ Connor can be found here.

The link to the video for the song “Oro Se do Bheatha Bhaile” as sung by Sinead O’ Connor can be found here. ***This song is a traditional Irish song that had its origin as a wedding song that was played whenever it was time for a new bride “to enter her husband’s home” as his wife. After 1916 and The Easter Rising, the song came to be a rebel-inspired song calling all fighters to return home to fight for independence.

***As always, all original content contained in this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

6 thoughts on “Peace Be With You: The Life and Times of Sinead O’ Connor”

  1. From the moment she ripped up that photo , my respect for her continued to grow .
    She had a beautiful although somewhat tragic life and will be missed ❤️

  2. She omly did what Canada’s Indigenous peoples were seldom in a position to do. Catholic priests have been raping and abusing Indigenous youth for hundreds of years, and the Church just moved those priests from place to place without penance.
    I aplauded her actions.

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