Memories of Dolores Linger on
Heartbroken fans weep as they bid the saddest of farewells to the iconic Cranberries singer
"The song has ended but the memories linger on" - these were the poignant words from Dolores O'Riordan's former band mates on a single floral tribute displayed before her remains.
Thousands of people queued in the rain in Limerick yesterday to say their private farewell to the Cranberries singer.
The hearse carrying the remains of the much-loved Limerick woman arrived at St Joseph's Church for a public reposal shortly after 12pm.
Her coffin was carried inside accompanied by her mother and family members, while friends and relatives carried white roses as they entered the Church.
As Dolores' remains were brought into the church, Bishop Brendan Leahy told the congregation that the day was Limerick's public moment to bid farewell.
"We come to offer a heartfelt greeting to a deeply loved and cherished daughter of Limerick, a talented representative of the potential of Limerick people and a convinced advocate of living life in truth, love and peace," he said.
He asked those gathered to pray for her, her family and those she loved and helped in life.
He said Dolores had appreciated the value of spirituality.
"Her spiritual journey continued in many parts of our world, and yet Dolores remained anchored in Limerick.
"We can be grateful to Dolores' family for choosing this beautiful church as a venue for her lying in repose.
"Today, as the Limerick people she greatly loved come to pay their respects, let us pray for Dolores," he said.
Fifty former classmates of Dolores from Laurel Hill Colaiste FCJ carried bouquets of yellow flowers and daffodils into the church which they laid on a side pew directly across from the coffin.
The floral tributes to the beloved singer were added to as the day went on.
Mourners said silent prayers in front of the open coffin, with many shedding tears as they said their goodbyes. Others broke down as the coffin was carried from the church.
Outside, despite the weather conditions, mourners formed a steady stream waiting to enter to pay their respects.
Four books of condolence were lined up at the church entrance and photographs of Dolores during the heyday of her career were on display.
These included two of her meeting the Pope - one of the highlights of her life.
As the voice of the Limerick singer played softly in the background, mourners from the city filed past the open coffin.
At 1pm, Dolores's mother Eileen and her six siblings left the church after spending an hour chatting with mourners and thanking them for attending.
Among those who gathered to pay their respects were Limerick TDs Willie O'Dea and Jan O'Sullivan.
Ms O'Sullivan recalled holding a reception for the Cranberries when she was Mayor of Limerick.
She described the singer as a very ordinary, down-to-earth woman with no airs or graces.
Many mourners left the church in tears but took the time to thank the family for allowing them the opportunity to say their own goodbyes to the late singer.
Sinead Tierney, who attended with her daughter Kerri (16), lived near Dolores and said that they often saw her on the roads around their home when she was back in Limerick.
"It is a testament to her mother and her family to give us this time today," she said.
Marian Vallely paid an emotional goodbye to Dolores. She had taught the singer as a young pupil from her first day in national school in The Model School in Limerick.
"I started my first day in the Model when Dolores started her first day of school. She was a beautiful girl and a lovely family and we are heartbroken," she said.
"We had followed her success with pride.
"She was always shy and retiring but lovely. She was always a lovely quiet child and she did her best.
"She was talented and gifted in her own quiet way. She grew in confidence as she joined The Cranberries," she recalled.
"We saw her talent early on. I remember her standing on the desk singing to fifth and sixth class pupils and how proud she was," she added.
Marion also paid tribute to the singer's family for allowing the public to pay their own respects to Dolores.
"They are generous but they were always generous and kind. It doesn't surprise me. I have written to her mother," she added.
Marion told how St Joseph's Church had held special memories for Dolores.
"She had three sacraments here, her first Confession, first Communion and Confirmation," she said.
Mourners from all over the world also gathered to pay their respects.
Fan Yan (27), from China, had travelled to Limerick with three friends. The young Chinese students, who are studying in Tralee, recalled listening to the Cranberries when growing up back home.
"We are Dolores fans. Dolores had a lot of fans in China. There are a few singers in China who have similar styles and they learned from Dolores.
"We wanted to show our respect to her today and say goodbye," said Fan.
May O'Connor, from Limerick, attended the church with her daughter and grandchildren.
"We were so proud of her, she was a Limerick girl and we had to say goodbye to her. She just looked so peaceful, she looked like a doll," she said.
The 46-year-old Cranberries singer was discovered unresponsive in a room of the Hilton Park Lane Hotel in London last Monday.
An inquest into her death opened at Westminister Coroner's Court last Friday, and was adjourned until April.
Her funeral Mass will take place tomorrow in St Ailbe's Church, Ballybricken at 11.30am, ahead of a private family burial.