Limerick says goodbye to its rock star Dolores O’Riordan

Yesterday, thousands of people attended a four-hour public reposal of rock star Dolores O’Riordan in her native Limerick. The county has begun three days of mourning.

In a tribute normally reserved for presidents, popes, and heads of state, the Cranberries singer — holding a pair of pearl rosary beads — lay in an open coffin, inside St Joseph’s Church in the city.

Fans from around the world, including from Spain and China, queued in the wind and rain, along Barrington St and into Quinlan St, to pay their respects to her.

O’Riordan’s remains will also be reposed in Cross’s funeral home, Ballyneety, today, from 4pm to 8pm. Her funeral Mass will take place on Tuesday, at 11.30am, in St Aible’s Church, Ballybricken.

After the Mass, the mother of three —who died in a London hotel last Monday — will be laid to rest next to her father, Terry, in a private burial in Caherelly Cemetery.

The singer’s heartbroken family, including mother Eileen and six siblings, accompanied her dark wooden coffin into St Joseph’s around midday.

Inside the church, decorated in white roses, O’Riordan’s songs played out on a sound system.

Mourners left messages in four books of condolences, placed among a series of photographs of the star performing on stage and meeting Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

Friends, former schoolmates, and fans paused at the coffin to say their own personal prayer to Dolores, known affectionately as ‘Dolly’ in her hometown.

Fans said the adored singer looked ‘at peace’ in her tranquil surroundings.

“She was so lovely, so peaceful, so beautiful. She looked like a doll,” said Co Clare grandmother May O’Connor.

Chinese nationals Fan Yan and Yawen Shem, both aged 27 and studying nursing and biology in Tralee, said that O’Riordan is a star in their home country.

“Dolores has lots of fans in China,” Yan said. “The most famous singers in China have similar styles; they learn from Dolores and they are influenced by her.”

“I’m really sorry for Dolores’ family’s loss,” added Shem. “It’s so real, and unreal, to see her lying there in the church.”

Janesboro mother, Kate Bowman, who brought along her daughter, Laura, 6, said: “I came here because I’m a proud Limerick woman — I admired that most about Dolores, more than her music and her success. I love the fact the fame didn’t go to her head, and she remembered her roots.”

“I thought she looked beautiful [in the church]. She looked asleep, but she shouldn’t be in a coffin — She’s far too young.”

Sinéad Tierney and her daughter Kerry, who were neighbours of the singer, thanked Eileen O’Riordan for allowing the public to say goodbye to Dolores, despite the tragic circumstances.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful of her mum and her family to give us this today,” they said. “It was very kind of them. We’d always see Dolores on the road, when she was home. We’ll miss her.”

West Cork native Marian Vallely, who began a teaching post at the Limerick Model national school on Dolores’ first day there, also came to pay her respects.

She added: “We saw her talent early on. I remember her standing on one of the school desks, singing to fifth- and sixth-class pupils, and how proud she was.”

Labour TD and former minister of education Jan O’Sullivan, who held a civic reception for The Cranberries when she was mayor of Limerick in 1993, also paid tribute to the “no airs or graces” star.

“Dolores’ voice was so haunting,” she said. “She was such a strong personality. I think she gave an awful lot, particularly to young women of her own age. She really spoke for that generation.”

Limerick fan Karina Hanley described O’Riordan as “an icon, a legend, the only rock star to come out of Limerick”.

“Go gently Dolores, go gently,” she added.

Nicola Mescal, from Limerick, thanked the star’s family “for giving us this opportunity”.

“She looked so peaceful,” said Nicola. “It’s very sad for us to have lost our little rock star.”

Others, inconsolable, wept and hugged one another outside the church.

Wiping away tears, Barcelona native Miriam Rodriquez, who travelled from her home in Dublin, said: “I’m super-sad. I started to follow Dolores when I was 12. I’m 35 now, so it has been half my life.”

O’Riordan’s hits were boomed out at Thomond Park, where Munster hosted French rivals Castre. The Cranberries rock anthem, ‘Zombie’, rallied the crowds at the rugby match, after it was announced at half-time that “we couldn’t let the day go without remembering Dolores O’Riordan”,

Corkonians Tara Doyle and Maureen Cronin attended the match and later said their goodbyes to O’Riordan.

“I was a huge fan,” said Tara. “I grew up with her music, going to gigs, and singing along on the radio. She was a great, great lady for Limerick.”

Speaking after pausing alongside the singer’s coffin, she added: “She looks beautiful in there. To hear her voice again today was very hard.”

Fifty of O’Riordan’s former classmates from Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ each carried into the church a single daffodil to represent “the sunshine Dolores brought with her wherever she went”.

As light began to fade in the Treaty City, O’Riordan’s devastated Cranberries bandmates — brothers Noel and Mike Hogan, and Fergal Lawlor — helped shoulder the musical icon’s coffin from the church to a waiting hearse. A floral tribute to their friend and lead singer summed up how much Dolores had meant to so many. It read: “The song has ended, but the memories linger on.”

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