More than 30 years ago a female journalist was told by a friend, “I’ve found the next U2.”And she’s a woman." The person was, of course, referring to Sinéad O’Connor who was to rapidly become a star. From her early life it was obvious that she would grow up with a mind of her own.
In her recently published autobiography, Rememberings, she takes the reader by the hand through a life with many twists and turns. In the foreword the global star tells us, “ I can’t remember any more than I have given my publisher. Except for that which is private or that I wish to forget. The of what I do not recall would fill ten thousand libraries, so it’s probably just as well I don‘t remember . . . I have left some people out because I know they prefer privacy and others because I want them to be pissed when they look for their names in the book and don’t find them.”
She has in the past spoken publically in considerable detail of how she suffers another side-effect of the parental cruelty is, ” . . . onions don’t make me cry.”
O’Connor can draw a word picture as vividly as any writer I know. On an early page you are in her grandmother’s house at Christmas with Sinead as a small child. You can hear her talking to the old piano and almost see its yellowing keys, watch the fairy lights and smell cabbage. She is one of a talented family and even at that tender age she knew where she wanted to go, “ . . . I want songs to take me away to that other world . I don’t like reality.”
She describes in earthy detail her feelings on August the sixteenth 1977, when Elvis died, “I’m crying so f*cking much I can’t make my bed. My body won’t work.”
In her description of her mother’s father she writes, ” The only thing he wants in life is quiet but he can’t say quiet properly because he’s from Westmeath. He roars ‘Quite! Quite! At us over the top of his newspaper, when we’re being too noisy, which makes us giggle, so he has to roar it again.” But her childhood kindness shines through in the next paragraph, “To make up for tormenting him, I stand behind his chair and rock him real softly in the evenings when it’s just me and him so he can fall asleep.”
One prominent Irish journalist wrote, Everyone has an opinion on Sinéad O’Connor. Some would have preferred her to be like a Victorian child: seen and not heard. From her early childhood it should have been obvious, to the “some” referred to that Sinead wasn’t ever going to fall into that category. From speaking up fearlessly about the social ills f her own country to tearing up a picture of the Pope on a prime-time television show she proved on many occasions that she was her own woman without fear or favour.
Bob Geldof put it very well when he said only Sinéad O’Connor could have had the strength of character to bear being Sinéad O’Connor.
It is no surprise that Rememberings is the best written autobiography by an Irish celebrity for many a day Sinead O ‘ Connor has been putting profound thoughts into words for most of her life and the word “blame” doesn’t appear to be in her vocabulary.
“When you're young, you don't really know quite what you're aiming at. You're very impulsive and acting on impulse, which is very important and valuable. But you're kind of swimming in a blind sea. When you get older, you have more of a sense of direction.”
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“Suicide doesn't solve your problems. It only makes them infinitely, un-countably worse.”
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"I'm on fire when I'm singing, I'm completely in character, I use my sense memories, and every syllable of it is meant. It's a very special thing."
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“I don't do anything in order to cause trouble. It just so happens that what I do naturally causes trouble. I'm proud to be a troublemaker.”
And now this talented “troublemaker” with the unbelievable capacity for forgiveness is at her best in Rememberings. The book is published by Sandycove, an imprint of Penguin Books. It is dedicated to a number of people and heading the list is, “. . . all staff and patients at St. Patrick’s University Hospital, Dublin” She expressed her gratitude to those same people in her newspaper column, after the book was published , “There people are my second family, and this is my second home. And will be all my life.” She goes on to say that the love she has been given in Saint Patrick’s, ” . . . is so tender and so strong that it’s impossible to describe.” That is the sort of gratitude, forgiveness and love that you will find in this beautifully written book which is certainly not devoid of humour.
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I mentioned here that I was writing a memoir. Well, I was asked to record a short passage from it for Irish Men’s Shed Radio.
I’m attaching the audio: Bread an' Mate.wav
See you in August.
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