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Bono re-visits Dublin childhood on Cedarwood Road in U2’s ‘most personal’ album to date

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Bono gestures to the audience after performing at an Apple event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California

Bono gestures to the audience after performing at an Apple event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California

Bono gestures to the audience after performing at an Apple event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California

U2’s new album ‘Songs of Innocence’ has been called their most personal album to date – with many of the songs set in their native Dublin.

One of the tracks gaining most attention is ‘Cedarwood Road’, the street where Bono grew up.

He sings of the Cherryblossum trees, which can still be seen there today.

Bob Conway, a neighbour of Bono’s, told Joe Duffy’s Liveline on RTE Radio One that Bono gained attention for his music very early on.

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'Songs of Innocence' cover

'Songs of Innocence' cover

'Songs of Innocence' cover

“I grew up just a few doors literally from the Hewsons.

“We grew up at a time when younger people were looking for a new way forward. Then on Cederwood road we started hearing Bono and the three boys practicing in the garage.”

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In 1983 U2 headlined the event. Photo: Getty Images

In 1983 U2 headlined the event. Photo: Getty Images

In 1983 U2 headlined the event. Photo: Getty Images

Angela Massey, another neighbour, spoke of how Bono inadvertently ran over her dog – and came to check on him.

“I had a little dog and he knocked him down.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) greets the crowd with U2 singer Bono (R) as The Edge looks on during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts

Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) greets the crowd with U2 singer Bono (R) as The Edge looks on during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts

Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) greets the crowd with U2 singer Bono (R) as The Edge looks on during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts

“He came to my door the next day and he wanted to know how the dog was - he was a terribly nice young fella.”

Michelle Boyle told of how her mother rang a young Bono after he refused to go to a debs.

“My mother rang up Bono because he refused to go to the debs of my sister’s friend. It was a great road to grow up on. Lots of really good neighbours.”

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However the death of his mother at the age of 14 had a profound effect on him – and he sings about it in song ‘Iris (Hold me close)’.

Bono told Rolling Stone: "Forty years ago, my mother fell at her own father's funeral, and I never spoke with her again.

"Rage always follows grief, and I had a lot of it, and I still have, but I channelled it into music and I still do. I have very few memories of my mother, and I put a few of them in [the song]”.

He refers to his mother as  ‘The star that gives us light’, in the song – a description many of his former neighbours agreed with.

“The lyrics of the song paint a nice picture of the person Iris was”, Mr Conway told Joe Duffy.

“Right to this present day you can see the power that she still has on his life - She was a wonderful woman.

“She was very quiet in her own way, you would nearly say reserved. She was a very charitable, giving woman – and very bubbly and pleasant as well.

“You look at the ma on the road and some would be whatever and some would be dead cool – and Bono’s ma was dead cool.”

He also shared an anecdote from childhood of when he fell – and Bono’s mother came all the way from her garden to check on him

“I was out in my back garden, I must have been 6 or 7 at the time, and I fell off the wing and landed on my back.

“Iris heard it because she was hanging out her clothes in the back garden, and she came running to the rescue.

“I always remember that moment above all else, because there was something very calming and assuring about her.”

He also praised Bono’s father.

“Bob his dad was a very hardworking, decent man. A very unassuming, quiet man. But he was a rock behind Bono.”

‘Raised by Wolves’ is perhaps the darkest track on the album, about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974.

With no warning, three car bombs ripped through the heart of the capital at 5.30pm, killing 34 people including a nine month pregnant woman.

Bono told Rolling Stone magazine: "It was a real incident that happened in our country where three car bombs were set to go off at the same time in Dublin on a Friday night, 5:30.”

"On any other Friday I would have been at this record shop, just down the corner, but I cycled to school that day."

In the song he sings: “Face down on broken street, there’s a man in the corner in a pool of misery.”

In another lyric he sings: “Boy sees his father crushed under the weight, of a cross in a passion where the passion is hate.”


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