Dolores O'Riordan

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Dolores O'Riordan
Dolores O'Riordan performing in May 2012.jpg
O'Riordan performing in Montreal in May 2012
Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan[1]

(1971-09-06)6 September 1971
Ballybricken, County Limerick, Ireland
Died15 January 2018(2018-01-15) (aged 46)
Mayfair, London, UK
Cause of deathDrowning due to alcohol intoxication
Burial placeCaherelly Cemetery
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
Don Burton
(m. 1994; div. 2014)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • bass
Years active1989–2018
Associated acts
Dolores O'Riordan signature.svg

Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan (/ˈrɪərdən/; 6 September 1971 – 15 January 2018)[3] was an Irish musician, singer and songwriter. She was the lead vocalist for alternative rock band[4] The Cranberries from 1990 until they took a six-year hiatus in 2003.[5][6] They later reunited in 2009,[7][8] disbanding in 2019 following her death.[9][10]

O'Riordan's first solo album, Are You Listening?, was released in May 2007 and was followed up by No Baggage in August 2009. O'Riordan was known for her lilting mezzo-soprano voice,[11] her emphasised use of keening,[12] and her strong Limerick accent.[13] She appeared as a judge on RTÉ's The Voice of Ireland during the 2013–14 season. In April 2014, O'Riordan joined and began recording new material with the trio D.A.R.K.

Early life[edit]

Dolores O'Riordan was born 6 September 1971 in Ballybricken, County Limerick, the youngest of nine children, two of whom died in infancy. Her father, Terence Patrick "Terry" O'Riordan (1937–2011),[14] worked as a farm labourer until a motorbike accident in 1968 left him brain damaged.[15] Her mother, Eileen (née Greensmith), was a school caterer. O'Riordan was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family,[16] and was named by her mother in reference to the Lady of the Seven Dolours.[17] From the age of eight, she was sexually abused for four years by an unnamed person whom she trusted.[18][19]

At five years old at school in Limerick, the headmistress took her out of the class and up into the sixth class where the twelve-year-old girls were, then she sat O'Riordan on the teacher's desk and told her to sing for them.[20] When she was seven-years-old, her sister accidentally burned the house down.[21] O'Riordan grew up in the neighboring Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly and attended Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ school in Limerick.[22][23] School principal Aedín Ní Bhriain, said in the Limerick Post about O'Riordan's first day at Laurel Hill Colaiste FCJ by age twelve that she stood up in front of classmates and announced: "my name is Dolores O'Riordan and I'm going to be a rock star", then she stood up on her chair and she belted out "Tra la la la la, Triangles".[24][25] According to her school pal Catherina Egan, she's described as "boisterous, wild, but lovely". She sat every day at the piano in the main hall to play there, then her classmates sat around her after having lunch to listen to her sing. During her six years of schooling at Laurel Hill, O'Riordan won the Slógadh song contest for the school almost every year. She won in full 20 Slógadh medals, it was her first gained recognition.[26][27][28] Former Principal, Anne Mordan said in Nova about past pupil Dolores O'Riordan, "she was a delightful, unsophisticated, sensitive student, who enjoyed her time with us", she later added, "she was a bright, kind, good-humoured girl, who loved her family, her friends, and had an easy relationship with all her teachers, both lay and FCJ sisters."[29]

She started off with traditional Irish music and started playing the Irish tin whistle when she went to school. Then she played around with the spoons and the bodhrán and started playing the piano at the age of twelve. She took piano lessons and went to Grade 4 in Practical and Grade 8 in Theory.[30] Her formative experiences were as a soloist in the choir in local church and as singer at school.[31] She spent eight years with classical piano and played harmonium in her church for ten years. She described having a very strict childhood and didn't get out much right up until she was seventeen. O'Riordan's childhood consisted of going to piano lessons, going to church, then she had to do her homework and go to bed.[32] She later admitted in an interview in 1995 that she had neglected her lessons in favour of writing music and songs, although at school she became head girl.[33] By her teens, O'Riordan divided the rest of her time between assisting her mother, learning the accordion from her dad and part-time employment at clothing shops.[34]

In 1988, at age seventeen, she learned to play the guitar and performed a solo gig in Laurel Hill secondary school. That same year she met her first boyfriend, Mike O’Mahony.[35][36][37] Her mother, who she "adored", encouraged her to consider becoming a nun or get a college degree and become a music teacher, instead, she ran away from home at eighteen and lived a couple of years with her boyfriend.[38][39][40] In an interview with VOX Magazine in 1994, O'Riordan clarified the situation she was in at the time after leaving the house, she said:

"At 18 I left home because I wanted to sing. My parents wanted me to go to college and things like that. I was really poor for a year-and-a-half; I remember actually being hungry, like I'd die for a bag of chips. That's when I joined The Cranberries."[41]

O'Riordan was still at Laurel Hill Colaiste FCJ secondary school when she first joined the band.[42] At that time, she had set her sights on the musical life and her desire to be in "a band with no barriers, where I could write my own songs", she told The Guardian in 1995. Academics didn't hold much interest for her, although her grades in school were good. O'Riordan left school without any qualifications.[43][44][45]


1989–2003: The Cranberries and marriage[edit]

In 1989, brothers Mike (bass) and Noel (guitar) Hogan formed The Cranberry Saw Us with drummer Fergal Lawler and singer Niall Quinn, in Limerick, Ireland. Less than a year later, Quinn left the band.[46] He then told the remaining members that his girlfriend knew a girl who was looking for a band playing original material. On a sunday afternoon, O'Riordan and Quinn came up at the band's rehearsal room: she sang a couple of songs that she had written herself and she also did a Sinéad O’Connor song, "Troy". The band was impressed and gave her a cassette with instrumentals, asking her if she could work on it.[47] When she returned with a rough version of "Linger", she was hired, and they recorded Nothing Left At All, a three-track EP released on tape by local record label Xeric Records, which sold 300 copies.[48] The group changed their name to "The Cranberries".[49] The owner of Xeric Studios, Pearse Gilmore, became their manager and provided the group with studio time to complete another demo tape, which he produced. It featured early versions of "Linger" and "Dreams", which were sent to record companies throughout the UK.[48]

This demo earned the attention of both the UK press and record industry and sparked a bidding war between major British record labels. Eventually, the group signed with Island Records.[48] As part of The Cranberries, O'Riordan contributed to the release of five albums during this period: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? (1993), No Need to Argue (1994), To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury the Hatchet (1999), and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001), and a greatest-hits compilation, Stars: The Best of 1992–2002.[50]

The Cranberries performing on the Roxy Bar show at Bologna in 1995

O'Riordan has been recognised as a style icon, sporting a pixie cut or buzzed hair in the 1990s[51] and performing barefoot, saying "it just feels comfortable and honest to pull your toes along the ground."[52] The New York Times mentioned that O'Riordan was responsible for a large portion of Dr. Martens boots sales in the '90s.[53] On 18 July 1994, O'Riordan married Canadian-born Don Burton, ten years Dolores's senior, the former tour manager of Duran Duran.[54]

In September 1994, the Cranberries released "Zombie", the lead single of their second album No Need To Argue. The song landed at No.1 of Triple J's Hottest 100, which was the first time a female-led band had topped the poll.[55][56][57] In September 1995, O'Riordan performed "Ave Maria" along with Luciano Pavarotti; Princess Diana, who attended the live performance, told O'Riordan that the song brought her to tears.[58] Dolores O'Riordan and Fergal Lawler presented the award for Best Song at the MTV Europe Music Awards, in Milan, Italy, on 12 November 1998.[59][60] She performed live with her band at The Nobel Peace Prize Concert, at Oslo Spektrum, Oslo, Norway, on 11 December 1998.[61] On 15 December 2001, Dolores O'Riordan performed solo in the Vatican as part of the annual Vatican Christmas Concert for Pope John Paul II. She sang "Analyse", "Panis Angelicus", "Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night" with a 67-piece orchestra accompanying all artists. The show was broadcast to well over 200 million people around the world.[62][63] In 2002 she received a second invitation to perform at the Vatican Christmas Concert, also called Concerto di Natale in Vaticano. O'Riordan sang "Linger", "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" and "Adeste Fideles", on 13 December 2002. Dolores was supported by the Millennium Symphony Orchestra on the three songs, directed by Renato Serio, and also by the Summertime Gospel Choir on "Adeste Fideles".[64][65]

In 2003, the band decided to take a temporary time-out to experiment with solo projects.[66]

2003–2014: Solo career, other projects and divorce[edit]

In 2004, she appeared with the Italian artist Zucchero on the album Zu & Co., with the song "Pure Love". The album also featured other artists such as Sting, Sheryl Crow, Luciano Pavarotti, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Macy Gray, and Eric Clapton. On 6 March 2004, she performed Ave Maria during the 54th International Song Festival at the Ariston Theater, San Remo, in northern Italy.[67] The same year she worked with composer Angelo Badalamenti of Twin Peaks fame on the Evilenko soundtrack, providing vocals on several tracks, including "Angels Go to Heaven", the movie's theme song.[68][69] In 2005, she appeared on the Jam & Spoon's album Tripomatic Fairytales 3003 as a guest vocalist on the track "Mirror Lover".[70] On 3 December 2005, O'Riordan made her third appearance at the Vatican Christmas Concert, Concerto di Natale in Vaticano, were she performed "War Is Over", "Linger" and "Adeste Fideles" in duet with Gian Luca Terranova.[71] In December 2006 she would again be invited at Concerto di Natale in Vaticano who took place in Monte-Carlo as the Vatican Christmas Concert was canceled by the Pope Benedict XVI. She sang "Angel Fire" from her forthcoming solo album with an orchestra and Steve DeMarchi, also "Away In A Manger" and "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)".[72][73] She made a cameo appearance in the Adam Sandler comedy Click, released on 23 June 2006, as a wedding singer performing an alternate version of the Cranberries' "Linger", set to strings. Her first single, "Ordinary Day", was produced by BRIT Awards winner, Youth, whose previous credits included The Verve, Embrace, Primal Scream, U2, and Paul McCartney.[74]

O'Riordan promoting her debut solo album Are You Listening? in 2007

The video for "Ordinary Day" was shot in Prague, the video was filmed in Prague by Caswell Coggin.[75] In December 2006, Sanctuary Records signed O'Riordan for her solo album Are You Listening?. Since she had no label at the time and the music video was done, her husband and manager Don Burton stated that they decided to go with an indie and not continue with Universal Music Group during her hiatus.[76][77] Are You Listening? was released in May 2007, "Ordinary Day" was its first single, released in late April. In August "When We Were Young" was released as the second single from the album.[78][79] O'Riordan made an appearance live on The Late Late Show on 20 April 2007.[80] On 19 November 2007, she cancelled the remainder of her European Tour (Lille, Paris, Luxembourg, Warsaw, and Prague) due to illness.[81] In December, she performed in a few small American clubs, including Des Moines, Nashville, and a well-received free show in Charlottesville, Virginia.[82]

In 2008, O'Riordan won an EBBA Award. Every year the European Border Breakers Awards recognise the success of ten emerging artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.[83] In 2009, O'Riordan and her family moved full-time to Buckhorn, Ontario, Canada.[84]

Her second album, No Baggage, featuring 11 tracks, was released in August 2009.[85] The first single "The Journey" was released on 13 July 2009, followed by a second single, "Switch Off the Moment". The music video for "The Journey" was filmed in 16 mm on 8 May 2009, at Howth Beach Pier and at Howth Summit, Dublin, Ireland. The music video aired on 29 July 2009.[86]

In August 2013, she returned to live in Ireland, in Abington, North Dublin, after nine years in Canada with her husband and their three children.[87] O'Riordan and her husband Burton ended their relationship in late 2014 after 20 years together.[88] They later divorced.[89]

She appeared as a judge on RTÉ's The Voice of Ireland during the 2013–14 season.[90]

2009–2018: The Cranberries reunion[edit]

O'Riordan performing with her signature guitar at Paris in May 2010

In January 2009, the University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin) invited the Cranberries to reunite for a concert celebrating O'Riordan's appointment as an honorary member of the Society, which led the band members to consider reuniting for a tour and a recording session.[91][92][93]

On 25 August 2009, while promoting her solo album No Baggage in New York City on 101.9 RXP radio, O'Riordan announced the reunion of the Cranberries for a world tour. The tour began in North America in mid-November, followed by South America in mid-January 2010 and Europe in March 2010.[94] Also touring with the original members of the Cranberries was Denny DeMarchi, who played the keyboard for O'Riordan's solo albums.[95] The band played songs from O'Riordan's solo albums, many of the Cranberries' classics, as well as new songs. On 9 June 2010, the Cranberries performed at the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Thomond Park in Limerick; it was the first time the band had performed in their native city in over 15 years.[96] On 1 July 2011, a concert entitled "TU Warszawa" / "Here, Warsaw" formed the main event of the inauguration of Poland's presidency of the EU council. Dolores O'Riordan performed "Zombie" and "I Lied" with the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra, in Warsaw, Poland. "I Lied" is the English version of the Polish song "Skłamałam".[97][98] In 2011, they recorded their sixth album, Roses, released in February 2012.[99] She suffered from vocal cord nodules around the 2010-2012 era, that is why concert dates were canceled and postponed.[100][101] Dolores O'Riordan and her band performed two songs at the 62nd Sanremo Song Festival at the Ariston Theatre on 18 February 2012 in Sanremo, Italy, having been invited on more than one occasion to the festival.[102]

Her final performance at the Vatican's Christmas Concert (Concerto di Natale) came in December 2013. She performed four songs : "Letting Go" from Are You Listening?, "Silent Night" in duet with Elisa Toffoli, "Away In A Manger" and "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)".[103][104]

On 26 May 2016, the band announced that they planned to start a tour in Europe. The first show was held on 3 June.[105] The Cranberries made three consecutive dates in Cancún, Mexico, in February 2017. In late April 2017, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the band, they released a new studio album Something Else, featuring of acoustic versions of their greatest hits, and backed by the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Three new songs appear on this album: "The Glory," "Rupture," and "Why"[106] In May 2017, the band started the world tour as acoustic concerts, with a string quartet. Most of the time, Dolores O'Riordan sang seated on a stool, facing pains in the upper part of her spine and diaphragm pain during singing. After eleven shows, O'Riordan said to be in "excruciating pain". The Cranberries published on social media the cancellation of the sold-out tour in Europe and North America.[107] During her rest, Dolores O'Riordan works on new demos, for plans to release a new Cranberries studio album.[108]

Dolores O'Riordan's last public performance was on 14 December 2017 in New York, she sang three songs of The Cranberries at Billboard magazine's Christmas party.[109]

On 15 December 2017, Eminem released his album Revival which included a large sample from the song "Zombie" as the hook for his rap song "In Your Head".[110] O'Riordan remained in the band until her death.[90]

2014–2018: D.A.R.K.[edit]

O'Riordan began recording new material with Jetlag, a collaboration between Andy Rourke of The Smiths and Olé Koretsky, in April 2014. They then formed a trio under the name D.A.R.K. Their first album, Science Agrees, was released in September 2016.[111][112]



O'Riordan's deeply religious mother had a strong influence on her.[113] She was influenced by Gregorian chant at an early age,[114][115] which remained her main influence until the end of her life. Months before she died, O'Riordan tested the resonance and the acoustics of the Glenstal Abbey church in Ireland to sing there.[116] O'Riordan stated that this apprenticeship by this detachment of the world in a raw and devoted setting influenced a lot of her development as an artist and as a musician.[117] In her teenage Dolores O'Riordan spent much of her time with her brothers who listened to heavy metal music,[118] while being equally passionate about rock and Gaelic folk music,[119][120] she became an indie rock singer at just eighteen when she joined The Cranberries. Then, she immersed herself in Ireland's music scene.[121] O'Riordan's has said that from childhood she has been influenced by The Smiths, The Cure,[122] R.E.M., The Kinks,[123] Depeche Mode, Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees,[124] and New Order.[125][126]
She credits Johnny McEvoy's song "The Old Bog Road" as one of the most beautiful old Irish songs and praised the The Pogues songs.[127] She makes a reference to Ireland's most famous poet William Butler Yeats, when O'Riordan quotes a length from one of his poems in her song about his grave.[128] O'Riordan wrote the song "I'm Still Remembering" written six months after the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.[129][130][131] O'Riordan stated the grunge decade was "so creatively it was a really great time", mentioning Pearl Jam, Blind Melon, Nirvana.[132] In 2009, talking about her three favorite albums, O'Riordan mentioned The Smiths - The Smiths (album), Depeche Mode - Violator, the original soundtrack of the film The Mission.[133] Her influences extended to Hard rock when she reported listening to AC/DC in a loop during her teenage years.[134] Dolores O'Riordan met AC/DC singer Brian Johnson in 2003, when The Cranberries were playing concerts with AC/DC and The Rolling Stones.[135][136] O'Riordan and Johnson were considering the idea of working together,[137][138] and became friends.[139] Dolores O'Riordan quotes Morrissey, Led Zeppelin,[140] also Metallica and James Hetfield whom she met in 1995.[141][142][143][144] She drew her influences from everyday life, events that happened in the world or her friendly and romantic relationships.[145]

Dave Fanning commented in The New York Times:

"Dolores O'Riordan found a place between grunge and Britpop that catapulted the band to international stardom."[146]


O'Riordan wrote her first song called "Calling" at the age of 12 years old.[147] She was the lead lyricist and co-composer of the band's songs with guitarist Noel Hogan, although she wrote some of the song structures.[148][149] In the early days of The Cranberries, Hogan gave her a sequence of chords he had composed; a week later she came back with lyrics of "Linger" and wrote "Sunday" shortly after.[150][151] O'Riordan described in 1993 that she chose to be a singer and write songs for the creative aspect, something new, saying that she would not have been happy singing traditional Irish music for a living.[152]

Dolores O'Riordan performs during The Cranberries Reunion tour in 2010

As an approach to writing songs, O'Riordan liked to write in solitude,[153] she would put down her ideas on paper and more often on her mobile phone over the years. She used the keyboard and guitar alternately to write songs. She also liked the challenge of working with Hogan, sometimes she would tell him to touch up the chords or manipulate what he had already done and modify it a little. O'Riordan wrote her ideas continuously all day long, although most of the melodies came to her mind in the middle of the night, since she struggled with insomnia and mood-swings associated with bipolar disorder in the last years of her life. She experienced the inevitable writer’s block issues during months at a period of her life.[154] O'Riordan wrote songs about themes that have evolved over the course of her career, her experience taught her to never feel inhibited and always make an effort to try other things artistically.[155][156]

I draw from a lot of different life experiences: births, deaths, war, pain, depression, anger, sadness. I found it very easy to write lyrics when I was younger because I had no inhibitions – they just came pouring out. [ ... ] It’s important not to think too much about what people will think, because then you’ll never write!

— Dolores O'Riordan, speaking of song themes in How I Wrote...: Songwriting Magazine.[157]

O'Riordan stated in The Independent that she wrote about what is getting to her at the time, she said that writing lyrics was, "about the things you need to talk about, I write to get my emotions out. It's self-therapeutic".[158] O'Riordan was easily bored and unable to rest a week, constantly thinking about her songs and work in progress, Noel Hogan said she sent him regularly as fifteen very short emails at 2am.[159] Canadian music producer Dan Brodbeck and musicians who worked with O'Riordan on her solo project over her six-year hiatus, stated their hiring was "100 per cent based on personalities clicking" and musical tastes. Even if she no longer had a financial obligation to work, O'Riordan is quoted as someone with an insatiable appetite for music, who knew what she wanted in a song and how to deliver a text. In Dolores O'Riordan's home, the white grand piano in front of a picture window overlooking the Big Bald Lake in Ontario, was an important part of the house which she often used it for improvised demonstrations and when she had inspiration.[160][161]


O'Riordan was a mezzo-soprano,[162][163] with a vocal range spanning from B2 to C6. She did not sing much in the 5th octave but rather in an area where she was most comfortable singing in.[164] Familiar to the 90s alt-rock belt,[165][166][167] but always devoted to her love of falsetto,[168][169] her voice was rather light without applying an uncomfortable weight and she characteristically deployed a soft projection when she sang the lowest notes.[170][171][172][173] Her signature singing style blended a wide range of elements such as the lilting voice,[174] the Celtic folklore whose mournful keening,[175][176][177] the glottal ornamentation and the distinctive attack on syllables.[178] Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times commented, "She had a high, airy tone that could turn ferocious without warning. She emphasized its breaks and curls, decorating the catchy melodies she wrote with florid vocal runs inherited from Celtic tradition."[179] She was also renowned for her yodeling techniques,[180] where she rapidly switched from her chest register into her head register / falsetto,[181][182] within a few seconds at high volume, and embracing on purpose the break of her voice in the passaggio.[183][184][185] She had never compromised her strong Irish accent even when she was criticized for that,[186][187] the University of Limerick (UL) wrote about O'Riordan's voice, "Dolores’s voice carried strong traces of the Sean Nós (old style) Gaelic tradition of unaccompanied singing that so beautifully conveys sadness, regret and loneliness."[188] Melody Maker described ORiordan's voice as “the voice of a saint trapped in a glass harp”,[189] whilst her longtime friend and former manager, record executive Dan Waite described O'Riordan in 2018 as "the strongest female voice in Rock for the past three decades".[190] Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Dolores O’Riordan was "the voice of a generation”.[191][192][193][194]

During "Linger"'s recording, Noel Hogan remembered how special O'Riordan's voice was, on South China Morning Post, he said:

"We’re all looking at each in the room going, ‘Where did that come out from?’ Because she was so small and tiny – you didn’t expect that. And then she only grew from that point on. As the years went down, she just got better and better."[195]

She was known for her raw natural voice,[196][197] Hogan corroborated this fact on Officialcharts, he stated: "we weren't going to start using Auto-Tune and all that s**te. She would absolutely kill us", speaking of the building of The Cranberries' latest album, In The End, created from demo voices recorded by O'Riordan before her death.[198] In an interview with Rolling Stone, Fergal Lawler shared O'Riordan's vocal recording process, where he explained that she did not come to work with her bandmates during daylight hours, but rather came in the evening to sing alone during the night with their producer and friend Stephen Street. O'Riordan was worried "about oversinging and smothering the raw emotion in her delivery", and to keep it intact, she only sang during vocal recording sessions.[199] O'Riordan started singing at the age of 5,[200] at around 40 year old, the timbre of her voice changed and became more mature, eventually related to stressful uses of the voice, aging process itself or lifestyle choices.[201] In Hot Press Hogan claimed that her voice changed from exercising her vocal cords, not to mention that she was also screaming over all of them for thirty years and her brothers before that, then he concluded: "Dolores' voice had real power".[202]

Dan Weiss of Stereogum praised O'Riordan's vocal ability highly, commenting: "she knew she could multiply her phrases in harmony and clever aural sculpting, which turned relatively simple and round chord progressions like “Ode To My Family” into complex waterfalls of vocalization, and yet the jangling folk guitars buffering them were clearly armored by capital-R rock.[203]

Personal life[edit]

Dolores had five brothers and one sister. Dolores was the youngest of the seven.[204] Raised Catholic, O'Riordan was an admirer of Pope John Paul II,[205] whom she met twice, in 2001 and 2002.[206] She performed at the invitation of Pope Francis in 2013 at the Vatican's annual Christmas concert.[207] O'Riordan performed at the Vatican Christmas Concert in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2013.

On 18 July 1994, O'Riordan married Don Burton, the former tour manager of Duran Duran, at Holy Cross Abbey in Co. Tipperary. The couple had three children: Taylor (b. 1997), Molly (b. 2001), and Dakota (b. 2005).[208] O'Riordan had a stepson named Donny Jr., from Burton's previous relationship.[209] In 1998, the couple bought a 61-hectare (150-acre) stud farm, called Riversfield Stud, located in Kilmallock, County Limerick, before selling it in 2004 at $5 million.[210][211] They lived in their first home while they planned their ultra-modern house near Dunquin, Co Kerry, on the Dingle Peninsula, but they spent very little time there and sold the villa later.[212] They then moved to Howth, County Dublin, and spent summers in a log cabin in Buckhorn, Ontario, Canada.[213][214]

In 2013, O'Riordan spoke publicly of her painful personal history.[215][216] She moved with her family at the age of seven to a busy neighborhood surrounded by many people while her mother worked all the time to feed the big family and pay the bills.[217] At that time, Dolores O'Riordan was sexually abused by a family friend during four years, between the ages of eight and 12. Then she developed depression and self-loathing which had been worsened by her accelerating career and led to anorexia.[218] Subsequently, she described her family, especially her children, as "her salvation".[219] In 2011, her father Terence O'Riordan died after seven years of fighting cancer. At his funeral in County Limerick, Ireland, the man who abused her introduced himself to her, saying that "he came and cried and said, 'Sorry' ".[220] Dolores O'Riordan was treated by psychotherapist Beechy Colclough who also treated Michael Jackson, Elton John and Robbie Williams.[221][222]

At the end of 2014, Dolores O'Riordan moved to Manhattan, New York, where she bought an apartment in East Village.[223] She developed a relationship with Russian musician Olé Koretsky,[224] with whom she shared the last years of her life. In 2017 she bought a new house, near her Irish hometown of Limerick.[225]


In mid-1995, Dolores O'Riordan was one of the richest women in the UK at the age of 24.[226] In 2006, she was one of the 10 richest women in Ireland.[227], and was precisely ranked as the fifth richest woman in 1999.[228] In 2008 she was sixth on the list of the ten richest artists in Ireland, with a $66 million fortune. She earned her money releasing albums, and touring the world as the frontwoman of The Cranberries.[229]

Health issues[edit]

Her family described Dolores as strong-minded and determined. From an early age, she would look people in the eye and told them she would be a rock star.[230] However, her physical and mental health deteriorated in her last few years.[231] In November 2014, O'Riordan was arrested and charged in connection with air rage on an Aer Lingus flight from New York to Shannon. During the flight, she grew verbally and physically abusive to the crew. When police were arresting her, she resisted, reminding them that her taxes paid their wages and shouting "I'm the Queen of Limerick! I'm an icon!", headbutting one Garda officer and spitting at another.[232] Later she told the media that she had been stressed from living in New York hotels following the end of her 20-year marriage.[233] The judge hearing her case agreed to dismiss all charges if she apologised in writing to her victims and contributed €6,000 to the court poor box.[232]

In May 2017, she publicly discussed her bipolar disorder, which she said had been diagnosed two years earlier.[234] That same month, the Cranberries cited her back problems as the reason for cancelling the second part of the group's European tour. The band stated that Dolores' back problem is in the mid to upper area of her spine and diaphragmatic movements associated with breathing and singing exacerbate pain.[235] In late 2017, O'Riordan said she was recovering and performed at a private event.[236][237] Her final public performance was on 14 December 2017 in New York at a holiday party for Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group. With 90s cover band act Saved by the 90s, she sang "Ode to my Family", "Linger" and "Zombie".[238]


In January 2018 O'Riordan travelled from New York, where she lived, to London to work with Martin "Youth" Glover on her side project D.A.R.K. and to meet representatives of the BMG record label about a new album of The Cranberries.[239][240]

At 2 a.m. on 15 January 2018, O'Riordan had a phone call with her mother,[241] then was found unresponsive later that morning at the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel in Mayfair and was pronounced dead at 9:16 a.m.[90][242][243] The cause of death was not immediately made public until an inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court held on 6 September,[244][245] which ruled that she died as a result of accidental drowning in a bathtub, following sedation by alcohol intoxication. Empty bottles were found in O'Riordan's room (five miniature bottles and a champagne bottle) as well as some prescription drugs, but toxicology tests showed that her body contained only "therapeutic" amounts of these medications but 330 mg of alcohol per 100 mL of blood (3.30g/l), a blood alcohol content of 0.33%.[246]

Two days after her death, the tabloid newspaper Santa Monica Observer spread a fake story rumoring that she had died of a fentanyl overdose. Later, they revised what they initially said, stating her cause of death had not been officially announced.[247][248]

O'Riordan's grave
O'Riordan's and her father's tombstone at Caherelly Cemetery in Herbertstown

Memorial service[edit]

On 21 January 2018, Dolores O'Riordan's funeral opened three days of mourning in Ireland.[249] Funeral plans included a service reserved for extended family and close friends.[250] A three-day funeral in her hometown, with O'Riordan lying in repose, lasted from 20 to 22 January at St Joseph's church. In a tribute normally reserved for Presidents, heads of State, and Popes, thousands streamed past the open coffin of Dolores O'Riordan, in a four-hour public reposing, inside St Joseph's Church in the city.[251] Dolores O'Riordan, wearing dark eyeshadow, with raven hair, was laid out in an open coffin wearing black and holding a set of pearl rosary beads.[252] O'Riordan's songs were played, while photographs of the singer performing and one of her with Pope John Paul II were placed along the walls.[253][254][255] Friends left a floral tribute next to the coffin of Dolores O'Riordan, which read: "The song has ended, but the memories linger on".[256]

She was buried on 23 January after a service at Saint Ailbe's Roman Catholic Church, Ballybricken, County Limerick; it began with the studio recording of "Ave Maria" as sung by O'Riordan and Luciano Pavarotti. At the end of the service the Cranberries' song "When You're Gone" was played. Among the attendees at her funeral were her mother, Eileen; her three children and their father,[257] O'Riordan's former husband, Don Burton; her sister and brothers; all Cranberries members; former rugby union player Ronan O'Gara;[258] Bono's wife Ali Hewson; and O'Riordan's boyfriend Olé Koretsky.[259] O'Riordan was buried alongside her father.[260]

Remembrances, legacy and influence[edit]

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, was one of the first to pay his respects.[261] The Taoiseach of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, also paid his respects to O'Riordan.[262] Polish President Andrzej Duda paid his respects as well.[263] Also, as a tribute, the Avett Brothers covered the Cranberries song "Linger".[264] Bono and Johnny Depp performed a tribute for Dolores O'Riordan ending the performance on "Linger", at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland, just hours after the sudden death of O'Riordan. Bono, Sinead O'Connor, Johnny Depp and Nick Cave gave to Dolores O'Riordan a standing ovation at a birthday bash for Shane MacGowan, singer of The Pogues.[265]

On the announcement of her death on 15 January 2018, Dolores O'Riordan appeared on the huge 360° screen overhanging the Madison Square Garden floor in New York during a New York Rangers game. A photo of this appearance was published on 17 January 2018 on Facebook by Madison Square Garden.[266]

Dolores O'Riordan's boyfriend Olé Koretsky made a statement.[267] Also Andy Rourke, bassist of The Smiths, producer Stephen Street, U2, Duran Duran, Liz Phair, James Corden, Hozier, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Foster the People, Pearl Jam, Elijah Wood, Bryan Adams, Halsey, Kodaline, The The, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. Dave Davies of The Kinks, Garbage, Adele, Canadian producer Dan Brodbeck, Slash, Graham Hopkins, drummer of Therapy?, and Spotify, and many other artists expressed their sadness.[268][269][270][271][272][273][274]

On the night of her death, 15 January 2018 Dolores O'Riordan left a voice message to her friend, Managing Director of E7LG-Europe, Dan Waite, where she offered to sing on a cover of Zombie that Waite had previously given O'Riordan to listen to and accredit. TMZ published this voice message on 5 April 2018.[275] On 18 January, the heavy metal band Bad Wolves released this cover of "Zombie" (originally by The Cranberries), which charted on multiple Billboard charts.[276][277]

On 28 January, a children's choir from New York City sang the Cranberries song "Dreams" in O'Riordan's memory.[278]

On 29 March 2018, Mayor Stephen Keary presented the book of condolences with over 16,000 signatures to Dolores' mother Eileen, brothers Donal, Terry and Joe and other family members.[279]
The "In Memoriam" segment of the 2018 Grammy Awards included tributes to a number of music icons as Dolores O'Riordan.[280] "Dreams" was played in Croke Park to the capacity 82,000 crowd on 19 August, after Limerick won the Liam MacCarthy Cup in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship for the first time in 45 years. The cup was later toured around Limerick and was brought by the team to O'Riordan's family home in Ballybricken.[281]

Duo Saint Sister, a duo from Northern Ireland, performed an acapella rendition of the song "Dreams" by The Cranberries at Lyra McKee's funeral in Belfast,[282] who was murdered by the New IRA in April 2019.[283]


After her death, bandmate Noel Hogan confirmed that The Cranberries band name would be retired after the release of their 2019 album.[284] He stated: "We don't want to continue without Dolores, so we're just going to leave after this".[285]

Awards and nominations[edit]

During her career with the Cranberries she won an MTV Europe Music Award in 1995, a Juno Awards in 1996, a Brit Award nomination for International Group in 1995 and a JUNO nomination in 1997.[286][287][288][289] On 19 May 1997, she received the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement, at London’s Grosvenor House.[290]

Dolores O'Riordan was honoured with the European Border Breakers Award (EBBA) in 2008.[291]

She received the University Philosophical Society's (the Phil) honorary patronage of Trinity College, Dublin, in January 2009.[292][293]

On 11 October 2018 O'Riordan was named the top female artist of all time in Billboard's Alternative Songs chart. On the 30th anniversary of the music chart, O'Riordan was named at the top of the 30-name list.[294]

On 18 January 2019, O'Riordan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by University of Limerick (UL). The posthumous Honorary Doctorate of Letters was presented to Dolores' mother Eileen O'Riordan. Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler were also honoured at the ceremony.[295]

Dolores O'Riordan was nominated for posthumous 2020 Grammy Awards. The ceremony is scheduled for 26 January 2020, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.[296]

Solo discography[edit]


Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
Are You Listening?
  • Released: 4 May 2007
  • Label: Sanctuary
  • Formats: CD, digital download
15 38 11 39 2 10 28 77
No Baggage 80 75 30 77 6 25
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
2004 "Pure Love" (with Zucchero) Zu & Co.
2007 "Ordinary Day" 50 2 Are You Listening?
"When We Were Young"
2009 "The Journey" No Baggage
"Switch Off the Moment"
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Other appearances[edit]

Title Year Other artist(s) Comment
"Soon Is Never Enough" 1992 Moose Backing vocals[304]
"Carousel" 1993 Touch of Oliver Backing vocals[305]
"The Sun Does Rise" 1994 Jah Wobble Duet[306]
"Pure Love" 2004 Zucchero Duet[307]
"Mirror Lover" 2005 Jam & Spoon Vocals[70]
"The Butterfly" 2006 Angelo Badalementi Vocals
"Senza Fiato" 2007 Giuliano Sangiorgi Duet[308]

Other contributions[edit]

Title Year Album Comment
"God Be with You" 1997 The Devil's Own [309]
"It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" 1999 Single With supergroup Artists for Children's Promise
"Ave Maria" 2004 The Passion of the Christ: Songs Inspired By Solo track[310]
"Angels Go to Heaven" Evilenko Vocals; film soundtrack[68][69]
"The Woodstrip/There's No Way Out"
"Linger" 2006 Click Film soundtrack[311]
"Centipede Sisters" 2008 Roll Play 2 Television soundtrack[312]
"Cryopian D" 2015 Like a Puppet Show Vocals and mixed; vinyl-only release[313]
"Angela's Song" 2017 Angela's Christmas (Netflix) Netflix Film Music Performer[314]


Title Year Role Notes
Saturday Night Live! 1995 Herself (musical guest) Episode: "George Clooney / The Cranberries"
Charmed 1999 Herself Episode: "She's a Man, Baby, a Man!"
Click 2006 Herself (cameo) performs "Linger" during Ben's wedding


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External links[edit]