After four years of rape as a child, fame and celebrity could offer no solace for the rock star. Today, January 15, is the first anniversary of her death.
Dolores O'Riordan's death sent shock waves around the world as the first death of a major cultural figure in 2018. Ireland, in particular, mourned the loss of one of its most prized singers and performers. O'Riordan had catapulted from Co. Limerick to international mega-stardom in the 1990s.
Tributes poured in for the woman who shaped the soundtrack to the teenage years of many.
Yet, as the talent and voice of O’Riordan are recalled, so, too, are the abuses she endured that must have shaped the manner in which she could make a listener feel her vulnerability in one song to her anger in the next.
O'Riordan revealed she was raped for four years as a child
In a 2014 discussion with Barry Egan of the Irish Independent, the Limerick woman revealed that from the age of eight she had endured four years of rape and sexual abuse. This had a devastating effect on her as a child and those feelings were revived and amplified when she was forced to face her abuser at her father’s funeral decades later.
"For four years, when I was a little girl I was sexually abused. I was only a kid,” Egan claims O'Riordan told him in 2013.
"That's what happens,” she continued.
“You think it is your own fault. I buried it. It is what you do initially. You bury it because you are ashamed of it. You think: 'Oh my God. How horrible and disgusting I am.' You have this terrible self-loathing. And then I got famous when I was 18 and my career took over. It was even harder then. So then I developed the anorexia.
The singer was forced to face her abuser at her father's funeral
"When I Googled anorexia and studied it, I found out it was a common pathology that develops later on in life. So I was putting on this charade, this perfect face. I had anorexia, then depression, a breakdown.
"I knew why I hated myself. I knew why I loathed myself. I knew why I wanted to make myself disappear. It was something that I noticed manifested itself in my behavior and the pathologies I began to develop in my early adult life, such as my eating disorder, depression and eventually the breakdowns.
"I think I am getting stronger for sure. But I'll always be a bit of a train wreck. Nobody's perfect. Those people who pretend they are perfect aren't perfect."
In November 2011, O’Riordan’s father died and she told Egan how she feared the idea of seeing her abuser again, who was a trusted and well-known figure in her Limerick community.
"I had nightmares for a year before my father's death about meeting him," she told him, explaining how the man came to speak to her during the funeral.
"My father had just died. I didn't see him for years and years and then I saw him at my father's funeral. I had blocked him out of my life."
Dolores O'Riordan had always been open to speaking about her mental health
O’Riordan had spoken openly of her eating disorders, depression, alcoholism and the sexual abuse she suffered as a little girl. In 2017 she told the Metro newspaper, “There are two ends of the spectrum – you can get extremely depressed and dark and lose interest in the things you love to do, then you can get super-manic.
“I was at the hypomanic side of the spectrum on and off for a long period, but generally you can only last at that end for around three months before you hit rock bottom and go down into depression.
“When you're manic you don't sleep and get very paranoid. So I'm dealing with it with medication.”
In her interview with Egan, she had also spoken about an attempt to take her own life in 2013.
"I suppose I am meant to stay here for the kids,” she explained, speaking of her three children and step-son with former husband Don Burton.
"It is just about acknowledgment for me now – not revenge. I'm not that type but it will free me to go into group therapy as I go on with my life and I can be a better and stronger mother.
"I am pretty good but sometimes I hit the bottle. Everything is way worse the next morning. I chain smoke when I drink. I have a bad day when I have bad memories and I can't control them and I hit the bottle. I kind of binge drink. That is kind of my biggest flaw at the moment.”
On Monday, January 15, 2018, police were called to a hotel on Park Lane in London where O'Riordan was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her death was confirmed by a publicist in a statement shortly afterward: "Irish and international singer Dolores O’Riordan has died suddenly in London today. She was 46 years old. The lead singer with the Irish band The Cranberries, was in London for a short recording session. No further details are available at this time.
"Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."
Tribute to Dolores O’Riordan
Beloved Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of popular Irish band The Cranberries, died suddenly in London aged 46. http://irsh.us/2r98KuvPosted by IrishCentral.com on Dé Luain, 15 Eanáir 2018
How will you remember Dolores O'Riordan today? Let us know in the comments section, below.
* Originally published in January 2018.