Sunday 22 July 2018

Farewell to a 'phenomenal talent' and icon

The Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan (Niall Carson/PA)
The Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan (Niall Carson/PA)
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

The death of Dolores O'Riordan this week was one of those genuinely shocking moments in the collective experience.

That word is overused, certainly - almost to the point of meaninglessness - but if you knew who she was at all, you'd have taken a sharp intake of breath when news broke of her tragically young passing in London.

And really, everybody knew who Dolores O'Riordan was.

She was a 1990s icon, and her band The Cranberries were gigantically popular around the world. All of this was given due mention in the flood of tributes and recollections which followed reports of her death.

What was nice, though, was how much the coverage focused on her: Dolores the person. Not the megastar, not the singer who'd sold 40 million albums, but the woman who seems to have been well-liked by just about everyone who met her.

On Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7am), Hot Press journalist Stuart Clark had a raft of good stories from the early days. At the time working in Limerick, he first heard The Cranberries in 1990 (no, he didn't recognise they'd go on to great things).

Some of his recollections were sweet and amusing: writing up their first press release and getting paid in Jack Daniel's; being asked by Dolores, who'd just done her Leaving Cert, if she should "give the band another year"; the plane-load of record company execs rushing over from the UK for a showcase gig in the Jetland Shopping Centre.

"She had her issues (but) whenever I dealt with her, she couldn't have been nicer, warmer, more engaging," he added.

There were also some lovely personal reminiscences on Liveline (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 1.45pm), including Limerick journalist Kathryn Hayes who'd been at school with Dolores. She recalled "a colourful character… certainly alternative in outlook, but very approachable, very kind to everyone".

She remembered Dolores playing piano in school, then singing at the Debs ball, and how the Laurel Hill school choir later sang at her wedding.

The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) discussed Dolores with regular music contributors Nadine O'Regan and John Caddell. The former described her as "a phenomenal talent, such a gifted singer… She really had that sort of vocal which transcended national barriers - she sounded like no-one else".

Caddell admired how Dolores had "never tried to hide her accent, in fact she accentuated it", and praised "the guts that it took, for the lead single on their second album, instead of a sweet little pop song they come out with 'Zombie'… Dolores and the band had guts in spades."

The Ryan Tubridy Show (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am) was inundated with listener texts; Ryan seemed surprised and genuinely moved by the strength and volume of this outpouring.

He gave more time than usual to reading out comments. The one that most resonated with me, as someone less than two years younger than Dolores, was this: "Very sad - she's my own age. 'Zombie' playing in the pub jukebox while you played pool on a Friday night in Ireland…"

Perhaps the most affecting piece of all came on that Breakfast segment: a short piece of audio, Dolores describing her songwriting process.

"Usually it's at midnight," we heard her say, "when everybody's asleep, all the kids are sleeping, and I come out here and just start writing… I can't sleep because I can hear a melody in my head. And when I record it, when I hear it back, it's extremely satisfying."

Indo Review

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment