Wednesday 29 January 2020

Sinead truly is Ireland's last great romantic

The newlywed singer has won the right to be happy, and it shows all over her beaming face, writes Barry Egan

In the wedding pictures, Sinead looked beautiful and happy. In her dress and holding her flowers, she looked just like an old-fashioned girl who has fallen in love with Steve Cooney, a noted musician with Stockton's Wing and the duo Cooney & Begley.

The beaming new bride looked as beautiful as she did when her debut solo single Troy was released in 1987. True love, as they say, is the great beautifier.

A friend of Sinead's has revealed that the couple have known each other since she was 14 years of age. "Sinead wrote the first single for an Irish band called In Tua Nua, a song called Take My Hand, and she went into the Eamon Andrews studios in Harcourt Street to record guide vocals and Steve was the producer -- so they've known each other since then," she said.

"I just sent her a message congratulating her marriage and wishing her a lifetime of happiness," Gay Byrne told me on Friday afternoon.

The gobby young Glenageary goddess practically grew up on The Late Late Show, giving interviews to a sometimes bemused, sometimes disapproving Uncle Gaybo.

"I interviewed her for my Meaning of Life series on RTE and she is a very, very spiritual person. Sinead has always been someone who sought after truth and meaning in life. She is a very bright and a very enquiring person. I'm delighted for her and that she is so happy."

Sinead seems in a very good place these days. She will be known to posterity as the young firebrand who stood up to the Catholic Church about the sexual abuse of children and shouted stop.

She doesn't have the shaven head any more, but Sinead, in 2010, still has the face of a cherub (albeit a cherub planting a smacker on her husband's lucky lips). They certainly look like a lovely couple.

And why wouldn't she look like an angel on her wedding day?

At 44, Sinead has won the right to be happy. She's been through a lot and come out the other side: a true survivor.

Sinead has always followed her heart, wherever it took her. She has always listened to her own voice, whatever it said to her. She has lived her life passionately and honestly. She has remained true to herself. She never deviated from the path of her own truth, even when she would have been better served not to . . .

Ripping up the Pope's picture on primetime American TV in 1992 as a protest statement against the Catholic Church was a provocative act in the extreme. She was effectively tearing up her career in America with it. Prior to that, on her 1990 US tour, Sinead refused to go on stage one night in New Jersey after The Star Spangled Banner was played, to protest at the censorship that was taking hold in America at that time. She also pulled out of an appearance on the NBC programme Saturday Night Live in protest at guest host Andrew Dice Clay's misogynistic ranting against women in his jokes. She screamed at the American establishment to eff off.

Sinead doesn't scream any more. She has mellowed considerably: mellowed into herself.

Yet when she sees an injustice, Sinead, Ireland's enemy of cant, can't remain silent. She demanded that Pope Benedict and his fellow leaders resign over the clerical abuse scandals that have shaken the church to its foundations throughout the world, not least in Ireland.

And in January of this year, when Martin Scorsese, Salman Rushdie, David Gilliam, Diane Von Furstenberg, Sam Mendes and Neil Jordan, among others, signed a petition demanding the release of film director Roman Polanski -- who had pleaded guilty to committing statutory rape in 1977 -- Sinead alone, it seemed, put her head above the parapet to speak up.

"They have every right to say they don't think he should be arrested -- I don't agree, but they have every right to say it -- but what I found offensive about the petition is that it made no reference whatsoever to the issue of child abuse and rape," she told the Sunday Independent.

"I don't think for a second that they condone child abuse or rape, but I don't think they sat and thought for a second about what they were going to say and do," she said.

I love Sinead O'Connor, and I always did. Her magic remains in her singing voice. When she sang Nothing Compares To You, it was a pot of balm for broken-hearted lovers.

No one can ever accuse her of not being Ireland's great romantic. Romantic Ireland is not dead and gone, and it isn't with O'Leary in the grave when Sinead O'Connor's heart is still beating.

Sunday Independent

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