Tears of joy and sadness flowed by the banks of the River Shannon in Limerick on Tuesday, as the city remembered native rock star Dolores O’Riordan, on the first anniversary of her tragic death.
The 46-year old singer with The Cranberries was found dead in a bath in a London hotel room, on January 15, 2018, after she had drowned while intoxicated with alcohol.
Musicians, artists, and fans came together to share memories and perform some of O’Riordan’s best-known hits at an artists space in the centre of the city.
They gathered at Ormston House, near the city’s quays, for the Piano for Dolores memorial event, converging around a piano, beneath a large screen showing footage of O’Riordan and her fellow Cranberries performing in concert.
Local singer-songwriter Emma Langford sang a haunting version of O’Riordan’s ballad “Miss You When You’re Gone” as an ode to her songwriting hero.
Afterwards, Langford offered: “I couldn’t help being influenced by Dolores. I was born the year The Cranberries started; I went to the same school as Dolores, and I grew up in Limerick.”
“She started a lot of female vocalists (because of) what she did vocally, her nuances, and how true to herself she was. It was a message for all of us, and her songs were anthems for a lot of us as well.”
“I feel like its important to pay homage to that more and more in my set in my gigs, to the women who have beaten the path that I now get to walk.”
Stefania Bardi, a native of Sardinia, in Italy, who has performed in Limerick for the past few years as part of two-piece group Dolce Vite, was almost too emotional to sing.
“It feels like it just happened again. Today all those emotions that I felt last year when I got the sad news are coming back,” she said.
“It has been very difficult for me to sing. I’m feeling very emotional, a bit like I have lost a friend.”
Local events manger and DJ, Nicky Woulfe, had promoted some of The Cranberries earliest gigs in Limerick.
He remembered how during those performances O’Riordan would “stand with her back to the audience” because of her “shyness”.
Such a lovely remembrance today for Dolores O’Riordan @OrmstonHouse in Limerick where they held an Open house to mark a year since her passing, so many talented artists and fans present to hear new single “All Over Now” #pianofordolores @The_Cranberries pic.twitter.com/hIRVVU8to2— Ciara Earlie (@ciaraearlie) January 15, 2019
“Even then her voice was haunting, but the shyness and vulnerability in her, is something I will always remember in my life,” Woulfe added.
Local Sinn Fein councillor John Costelloe recalled how he was “starstruck” when O’Riordan began chatting to him and a friend at Bentley’s nightclub a few years ago.
“We spent about an hour and a half with her taking about Limerick hurling, and life in general. It was such a surreal situation, and it lives in my head forever,” he added.
Local songwriter Paul Russell (69) led the gathered crowd in a rousing acoustic self-penned balled “We Love Her Singing Zombie”.
Russell said: “I wrote it the day she passed away. I went to Charlie Malone’s pub and I got everyone in the pub to write a line and I incorporated it all into one song.”
Jochen Tittmar (36), traveled from Munich, Germany, to visit O’Riordan’s grave in the morning before attending this evening’s memorial event.
“I brought a letter thanking Dolores for her songs and placed it at the grave,” he said.
Tittmar, a self-confessed “heavy metal” fan, said he became a life-long Cranberries fan after O’Riordan’s angelic voice “paralysed” him, the first time he heard it when he was 11-years old.
Many shed tears as O’Riordan’s lyrics filled the air when The Cranberries new single “All Over Now” from the band’s tribute album, received it’s first radio play at lunchtime.
“It’s amazing, just to hear Dolores’s voice again on a new record is amazing,” said Cranberries fan Jane Deere, from Pallasgreen.
Some were stunned into “eery” silence hearing O’Riordan sing “Do you remember , remember, the night at a hotel in London,” in reference to a couple having a row.
“It was very eery, actually. I heard it, was it a premonition?...it was very eery, strange,” Deere added.
Jade O’Doherty, 25, from Limerick city said it was “great to here Dolores’s voice again”.
The Cranberries will be conferred with Honoary Doctorates by University of Limerick and O’Riordan’s family will be presented with a special posthumous award at a ceremony at the college next Friday.