Hundreds of fans of the late singer with The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan, have made the “pilgrimage” from around the world, to pay homage at her graveside, the singer’s first anniversary mass heard today.
Self-confessed Spanish superfan, Enrique Rivas, was one of around 300 people, including Dolores’s mother Eileen and siblings, who attended the emotional ceremony held in St Ailbe’s Church, Ballybricken and Bohermore, Co Limerick.
Mr Rivas, who afterwards laid a red head scarf at O’Riordan’s grave at Caherelly Cemetery, said it was the third time he had made the “emotional” journey from his home in London, since the singer’s sudden death, on January 15, 2018.
O’Riordan, aged 46, and a mother of three, was found dead in a bath in her room at London’s Park Lane Hilton. An inquest held into her death last September heard she had drowned while intoxicated with alcohol.
“Since I was a kid, ten or eleven years old, I’ve grown up listening to her music. It’s really emotional for me coming here. It was to close the year, coming back to this place,” 32-year old Rivas offered.
A small group of fans “from all over the world” joined him at the church having met up earlier.
“I was here last July so I had the chance to go to the cemetery. I left some flowers and today I will leave my bandana,” Rivas added.
The Cranberries three remaining members, Mike and Noel Hogan, along with Fergal Lawler, also attended the mass.
Eileen O’Riordan, Dolores’s mother, and her granddaughter Katie, each sang hymns from the side of the church.
A year on from the rock star’s funeral, Fr James Walton, said the “small rural community of neighbours and friends come together once more to remember Dolores and to support her family as they continue to come to terms with their loss”.
Despite the remoteness of Ballybricken, with “no village and no nameplate”, Fr Walton remarked that “hundreds of people have been visiting this church to pray for Dolores and also making their way to Caherelly Cemetery, now a place of pilgrimage for her devoted fans, to pay their respects to her, and to leave there a memento of their visit.”
The singer’s graveside has become a musical shrine, decorated with trinkets left by fans, including guitars, cards, photographs, flowers, and personal messages.
Fr Walton said both he and the O’Riordan family had received “thousands” of emails, cards and messages from fans expressing their love for the late rock star.
“Dolores brought joy, solace, and inspiration to the lives of so many people, and continues to do so, based on the emails that I have received, and the fans that I have met over the past year,” he said.
O’Riordan’s “stardom” continues to shine, and, her powerful hit Dreams - which was played last August at Croke Park, after the final whistle of Limerick’s historic All-Ireland victory after a 45-year hiatus, has become the “unofficial anthem of Limerick hurling”, he added.
“I know the past year has been tough for the O’Riordan family in coming to terms in dealing with the untimely death of a beloved daughter and beloved sister, of coming to the realisation that she is not coming back,” Fr Walton said.
“And so, the words of another Cranberries song... ‘Hold on to love’...so hold onto your memories of Dolores, hold onto your beliefs and dreams as she did.”
“Hold onto the inspiration, the joy, solace and empathy, that her voice, her music, and her life’s story has brought to so many.”