By David Raleigh, in Limerick
There was widespread shock in Dolores O’Riordan’s native Limerick as news of her death filtered through, and from where she had blossomed into a world superstar.
The Cranberries and D.A.R.K front woman had been rehearsing in Limerick venue Dolan’s Warehouse last month, and had been planning a hometown gig, staff said.
A book of condolence is expected to open from 10am tomorrow morning at Limerick City and County Council’s headquarters at Merchants Quay.
A 'massive, massive' shock
Local singer songwriter Brian O’Connor, who passed on his sympathies to O’Riordan’s family and her band mates, said he was "in total shock" at news of her death.
O’Connor, a close friend of Cranberries guitarist Noel Hogan, described O’Riordan as “an icon” in the music industry.
Paying tribute, he remembered first meeting O’Riordan in the early 1990s, whilst she attended her debut recording sessions with The Cranberries at Xeric Studios, Limerick, run by the bands former manager Pearse Gilmore.
“I knew Dolores in the early days. I remember her being in the recording studio and she was obsessed with instruments and music. I can't believe it. It's absolutely shocking,” O’Connor said.
“It's just a terrible shock. She was a fantastic talent. In fact, she was a great great iconic figure in Irish music, no doubt about it,” he said.
“She put Limerick on the map. She was a very distinctive singer, more so than anyone else. Just imagine U2 without Bono. I feel for her band mates, but it's worse for her family and her kids.”
O’Connor added: “She was the most iconic Irish singer ever, I think…You can name them all from John McCormack. When you travel abroad and you hear “Zombie” and “Dreams” and “Linger” — that's Ireland, that's Limerick. Those songs are played everywhere you go in the world.”
'Never forgot her roots'
O’Riordan grew up in the tranquil rural townland of Ballybricken, 17 kilometres from Limerick city. She also lived in the village of Patrickswell outside the city.
The close-knit community of Ballybricken were rallying around O’Riordan’s “devastated” mother Eileen, and her six siblings. O’Riordan’s father Terry passed away after battling illness in 2011.
It is expected the Limerick rock star's remains will be flown home to Ballybricken for burial. No funeral plans have been formalised as yet.
Brigid Teefy, a family friend, who lives in Ballybricken, and is a local Independent councillor, was in deep shock at hearing of O'Riordan's sudden death.
“Oh my god, it's just unbelievable. It's a huge shock for is all here. Dolores was such a talented lady. We are all very proud of her,” Teefy said.
“Dolores was very close with her mother and family. It's a massive, massive shock. She did so well. She was unbelievable.”
Teefy added: “Dolores would come and go here all the time. She had been home very regularly. She was world famous but she was always very grounded and very attached to her native place. She was allowed to be herself here.”
Teefy said that, despite O’Riordan’s fame, she never had bodyguards or security with her when she travelled back to Ballybricken: “She would always be out running and jogging. She could be herself around here. She was simply ‘Dolores’ to everybody here. She never had any security with her; She was lovely.”
Passing on her “deepest sympathy to Dolores’ own children, her mother, and her while family”, Teefy added, “It's hard to take it in”.
O'Riordan was also a regular on the jogging trails along the Condell Road in Limerick city, despite being an international music star.
She had rehearsed in Limerick music venue Dolans Warehouse a month ago and was planning to play there soon, staff said.
O’Riordan’s new music project D.A.R.K had to cancel their first ever Limerick gig at Dolans in 2016, citing O’Riordan’s ongoing battle with back pain.
Neil Dolan, son of owner Mick Dolan, said everyone at the venue was “devastated”.
“She brought Limerick to a global stage, and to the forefront of world music. She was an exceptional talent,” he said.
“She was rehearsing here a month ago. It's very, very sad. She seemed a very nice lady.”
“She wanted to do a hometown gig, but it didn't materialise because of her back problems. She was meant to do a gig here with D.A.R.K, but couldn't, because of back problems so they had to cancel.”
“Apparently she had a serious back injury. A lot of her European tour dates were cancelled at the time. The last two years of her life, I'd imagine, she was living in a lot of (back) pain.”
Dolan added: “She's been a superstar since she was a kid. She was quite a private person.”
Limerick Metropolitan Mayor, Sean Lynch, a former detective who helped put behind bars some of Limerick’s most hardened criminals, said he was so shaken by O'Riordan's death, he could not bring himself to attend a meeting on the future of policing in the region being held this evening at Thomond Park, the home of Munster rugby.
“I'm absolutely (shocked)...I couldn't go to the meeting. I can't get over it. I'm totally shocked,” Lynch said.
“She lived in Patrickswell as a young girl. I wanted to give her a mayoral reception before I ended my tenure. I'm sitting in my car and I just can't believe it. It's such a sad, sad story. She put Limerick on the world stage. Poor Dolores," he added.
Paying tribute Lynch said O'Riordan "never, ever forgot her roots".
"She was Limerick through and through. This is as sad as it gets. She was an icon.”
Lynch said he admired O’Riordan for many reasons, especially for her strong character.
“She was great role model for all women. I'm sure she opened the doors for females to take a lead role in (rock) bands, as well as in business. She was bold and tough in an era when the lead singer of a band was nearly always male.”
“She was class act. She was unique...She had a unique voice. She had a great story in everything she sung; She was magic.”
“My deepest sympathies go to her family. What a loss to Limerick, what a loss to Ireland. We won't see the likes of her again,” Lynch said.
Family friend, Canon Liam McNamara, who was a co-celebrant at Dolores’ 1994 wedding to 80s rock group tour manager Don Burton in Holycross Abbey, Co Tipperary, told the Limerick Leader newspaper: “My heart goes out to the family. Dolores was their pride and joy. We all loved her very, very much.”
"She got on well all the way through her life. I was very disappointed to hear today that she has left us so early in life. Her family did so much for her and supported her all the way through," added Canon McNamara, who also officiated at the funeral Mass of Dolores' father Terry in Ballybricken in 2011.
Fr James Walton, priest in Dolores' home parish of Ballybricken, expressed his deepest sympathies to the family.
“I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the family. I am just going down to meet the family now,” Fr Walton told the Leader.