'The song has ended but the memories linger on' - mourners queue in rain to say private farewell to Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan
Thousands of people queued in the rain today in Limerick to say their private farewell to Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan.
The hearse carrying the remains of the much-loved Limerick woman arrived at the church shortly after 12pm today.
Her coffin was carried inside accompanied by her mother and family members.
Friends and relatives carried white roses as they entered 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 entrance to the Church and photographs of Dolores at the heyday of her career were on display along the side of the Church.
These included two of her meeting the Pope, one of the highlights of her career.
As the voice of the Limerick singer played softly in the background, mourners from the city filed past the open coffin.
A single floral tribute was displayed before her remains from her band mates reading simply: "The song has ended but the memories linger on."
At 1pm her mother Eileen and her six siblings left the church after spending an hour with mourners.
During their time in the church, family members privately thanked mourners who had gathered to say goodbye.
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 girl 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.
Sinead Tierney, who attended with her daughter Kerri (16), lived near Dolores and said they often saw Dolores 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 today. 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.
"The 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 Dolorese.
"She had three sacraments here, her first confession, first communion and confirmation," she said.
Terry and Marian Reeves from Limerick gathered to pay their respects. They had met the singer once shortly after her marriage.
"We were driving around Kerry and on a forest walk we met some people having a picnic. We had stopped to ask them directions and noticed they were drinking champagne. It was only after I realised it was Dolores O'Riordan and I knew she had just got married a while earlier.
"They drove past us a while later and I asked was it Dolores. She spoke to us chatting about people we knew. She was just a lovely down to earth girl," said Terry.
As Dolores' remains were brought into the church, Bishop Brendan Leahy told the congregation that today 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; "May the angels lead you into paradise; and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem, where there will be no more tears, no more death or pain, for the time of heavenly singing has come."
50 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 grew and grew 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 visibly broke down as the left the church.
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.
Shortly after 4pm today the coffin was taken from the Church carried by the singer's bandmates, Mike, Noel and Fergal.
Her remains will repose privately at Cross's Funeral Home in Ballyneety, Limerick, tomorrow from 4pm.
The singer will be brought to Saint Ailbe's Church in her native Ballybricken at 8pm for funeral mass on Tuesday morning.