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'She was magic': Shock and disbelief in Dolores O'Riordan's home town

“She brought Limerick to a global stage, and to the forefront of world music. She was an exceptional talent,” one local said.

FILE Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries, has passed away in London at the age of 46. No cause of death is yet known END

Updated at 2.15pm

AFTER THE NEWS broke that 46-year-old Dolores O’Riordan had died suddenly yesterday, shock spread around the superstar’s home county of Limerick.

A book of condolence is expected to open from 10am today at Limerick City and County Council’s headquarters at Merchants Quay, as floods of heartfelt tributes pour in for the rock musician.

The Cranberries and DARK front woman had been rehearsing in Limerick venue Dolan’s Warehouse last month, and had been planning a home town gig, staff said.

In a statement Dolores’ fellow Cranberries bandmates Noel, Mike and Fergal released the following statement:

We are devastated on the passing of our friend Dolores. She was an extraordinary talent and we feel very privileged to have been part of her life from 1989 when we started the Cranberries. The world has lost a true artist today.

Fellow Limerick singer

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.

The Cranberries in concert Dolores O'Riordan performs at 'C-Halle' in Berlin, 27 March 2010. Britta Pedersen via PA Images Britta Pedersen via PA Images

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.”

Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea said that Limerick would always be proud of O’Riordan, who he described as “full of life”.

I met Dolores O’Riordan on a number of occasions over the years, including at her brother PJs’ wedding, and always found her very friendly and full of life.

“I want to express my sincere condolences to her mother Eileen, her children and all her siblings and wider family and friends on their tragic loss.”

O’Riordan’s roots

O’Riordan grew up in the rural townland of Ballybricken, 17km from Limerick city, and lived for a time in Patrickswell.

She went to school and studied music at  Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ, who said they were deeply saddened by the news of her death.

Dolores was always proud of her Limerick roots and we are very proud of her as a past pupil. She was a lover of music during her years here in school, a love which continued throughout her life.

Last night, the community of Ballybricken rallied around O’Riordan’s “devastated” mother Eileen and her six siblings. O’Riordan’s father Terry passed away after battling an illness in 2011.

It’s expected the Limerick rock star’s remains will be flown home to Ballybricken for burial, however no funeral plans have been formalised.

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.”

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 DARK had to cancel their first ever Limerick gig at Dolan’s 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.”

FILE Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries, has passed away in London at the age of 46. No cause of death is yet known END

Dolan said that she had wanted to do a home town gig with DARK, but “it didn’t materialise because of her back problems” and they had to cancel.

“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 said he was shaken by O’Riordan’s death.

“I’m absolutely (shocked)… 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 said: “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 McNamara.

Father 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,” Father Walton said.

The Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said that “millions across the world” had been “shocked by this sad news”.

Way beyond anything else, this is the passing of a loving mother, daughter and sister. This is a family that will grieve deeply for Dolores in the same as others who lose loved ones. It starts and ends with them.

He said that she had been an inspiration to so many people, and said that “all of Limerick held her very dear in its heart”.

“Her rise to stardom gave a huge amount of belief to young people locally at the time.

She was a true child of Limerick: talented, honest, full of soul and courageous.  And she never lost sight of who she was and where she was from.

Read: Front pages and artists around the world pay tribute to Dolores O’Riordan

Read: Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan dies aged 46

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