Wednesday 21 March 2018

Dolores' 'gig of life' ends in tears of joy

The funeral of Dolores O’Riordan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The funeral of Dolores O’Riordan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Eileen O’Riordan at the funeral of her daughter Dolores. Photo: Reuters
Dolores’s boyfriend Ole Koretsky watches as her coffin is carried away. Photo: Getty Images
Dolores’s ex-husband Don Burton. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Agency, Dublin
Dolores O’Riordan. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Singer Bressie was among mourners at the funeral. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Agency, Dublin

It was the most "important and vital gig of her life", mourners were told as they gathered in St Ailbe's Church, in Ballybricken, for the funeral of The Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan.

Canon Liam McNamara delivered the homily and told those present that: "If tears are shed in heaven - by necessity they are tears of joy. Yes, tears of joy, following an excellent performance by Dolores, in the most important and vital gig of all - the gig of life itself."

Dolores's funeral Mass took place in the church where the 46-year-old mother-of-three's love of music had first ignited.

Here, Dolores had sung and played the keyboard in the parish choir as a child.

It was here, back home in Limerick, that family, friends and fans said goodbye. Inside, treasured photos had been pinned to a wall as a memorial.

They showed Dolores smiling in her wedding dress, cuddling her children, and singing with a range of musicians.

After the international headlines and the thousands of fans lining the streets of Limerick on Sunday, her funeral yesterday felt markedly more subdued. It was traditional, understated and deeply personal - taking place on the anniversary of the death of her baby brother, Gerard.

Outside the church, the Limerick Pipe Band played, while mourners pushed through icy winds.

Dolores's mother Eileen, her three children Taylor (20), Molly (16) and Dakota (12), their father Don and his son Donny (26), were the chief mourners.

The singer's sister Angela and her brothers Terence, Brendan, Donal, Joseph and PJ, and the singer's partner Ole Koretsky also attended.

There were also some familiar faces: Dave Fanning, Bressie, Eoghan McDermott, Ali Hewson, and, of course, the three remaining members of The Cranberries: Mike and Noel Hogan, and Fergal Lawler.


Once the mourners had taken their seats, Dolores and Pavarotti's 1995 rendition of Ava Maria rang through the naves. "A haunting voice," Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly said later.

A fragile, but a powerful one, too. Her voice had the ability to sound as delicate as paper, but feel as strong as steel.

Symbols representing Dolores's love of music - a guitar and a platinum disc - were carried to the alter by her niece Eileen, and childhood friend Teresa.

While her nephew, Patrick, presented a picture of Our Lady of Dolours, after whom the singer was named.

The picture was a family heirloom, it originally belonged to Dolores' great great great-grandmother.

Canon McNamara delivered the homily, and described Dolores as "a great person to give you a little word, to give you a little bit of hope".

"No words are adequate to describe Dolores, or to accurately state the influence for good she has been over the years," he said.

"She possessed a very special singing voice - a talent worth its weight in gold".

"She had a unique respect for everybody," he told mourners, paying tribute to her "kind, loving and generous heart".

He added that he believed Dolores would now be performing the "gig of her life" in heaven. "This is a difficult day not just for Ballybricken, but for the world," he said.

"Now she is singing in the heavenly choir - hymns of petition for us.

"Yet, being human we shall miss her gentle handshake, her loving smile."

After a pause, her rendition of Panis Angelicus was played.

"Her talent has resonated in the lives of many," Dr O'Reilly said.

"And will continue to do so as her music and her songs will continue to be played, and listened to."

The simple but evocative funeral Mass reminded the congregation of Fr James Walton's words the night before at her removal.

He had stated that, even though Dolores had gained international fame, she was above all a loving daughter, mother and friend, and had remained "one of us".

As her coffin was carried out of the church, The Cranberries' When You Are Gone echoed around the small church.

The same song was played by all key radio stations around the country at noon as a sign of respect yesterday.

Dolores's mother Eileen embraced her granddaughter Dakota, and then the hearse began to gently roll down the country road.

The cortege followed behind windows down, and the sound of her song Dreams poured out of the windows of their cars.

The community and the music carried Dolores to Caherelly cemetery, where she was laid to rest alongside her late father Terry.

On Monday, President Michael D Higgins visited the family and signed a book of condolences.

"It's so profoundly sad that someone so young is taken from us, but it's equally important also to pay tribute to [her] work and music," he said.


"It is also to the incredible credit of all those who have appreciated the music and the songs and the performances and the band, that they have come out in such numbers to make their tribute.

"It's so appropriate and it is generous, and I hope that her family will get all the support they need."

Meanwhile, in Limerick city on Monday night, more than 200 people took to Arthur's Quay park singing along to The Cranberries in her honour.

The event, which was organised by local singers, encouraged musicians to sing and play instruments to accompany the music.

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