On January 15th, 2018, the world was shocked to learn of the untimely death of Dolores O’Riordan. Dolores was the lead singer of the popular 90’s Irish Rock band, The Cranberries. Her lead vocals were unmistakable with her raw sound and Irish accent, making the band’s sound so unique. They rose to fame in what seemed like overnight success; although, Dolores would have told you differently. I saw an interview where she talked about traveling around Ireland in a van playing small clubs to sometimes only six people who were more interested in their beer than the band. Although it was discouraging at the time, The Cranberries soon found fame and skyrocketed up the charts in Europe and the US at the height of the Grunge era of music (the best era of music if you ask me). I remember listening to The Cranberries and loving their sound and when singing along I couldn’t help but sing in a slight Irish accent, mimicking how Dolores said certain words. Now, I’m not singer. Nobody wants to hear that, especially with my attempt at an accent, but nevertheless, it happened as I was driving around in the 90’s. Sort of dating myself here, but so be it. What a great time for music!

If you’re having trouble placing The Cranberries, you may remember some of their hits such as Zombie, Ode to My Family, Dreams, Analyse, When You’re Gone, and of course, Linger. If you watched MTV in the 90’s, you surely remember the video for Zombie where Dolores was painted gold:

Zombie - The Cranberries

Dolores penned a lot of songs that dealt with war and civil unrest in Europe and that was the original intent of the song Zombie. She wrote it about two children who were killed by bombs, one of which was placed in a rubbish bin in London. Probably my favorite album from The Cranberries was “To the Faithful Departed”. One of Dolores’ heroes when growing up with John Lennon. On this album she wrote an amazing song called “I just shot John Lennon” about his murder in 1980. Another song that I always have loved and one that has intrigued me is “Salvation”, also from this same album. This song deals with, and speaks out against, kids doing drugs and states that “Salvation is Free”. I’ve read that Dolores had been brought up in and always kept her Catholic Faith and others have said that some of her lyrics have often leaned toward having a Christian slant to them. It has always made me wonder if maybe she was speaking to the free gift of Salvation that God offers in His son, Jesus Christ. It would seem to me that Dolores was telling kids to turn to Jesus instead of drugs for their problems in life. We may never know for sure, but I like to think that’s exactly what she was saying.

Dolores was never comfortable with rising to fame at such a young age. She was only 19 years old when The Cranberries began touring the world and playing sold-out venues. She had made the statement that achieving so much, so young was difficult, in addition to the fact that she was uncomfortable being watched and suddenly she was on the world stage for everyone to see and hear. In 2014, Dolores opened up with the Belfast Telegraph about her painful childhood where she was abused by someone who was in a position of authority in Limerick between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. Both this and her rise to fame led to mental health problems and suicidal thoughts. In fact, in 2012, she attempted suicide by overdose, but when it failed thought that she must still be here for a reason. Unfortunately, the difficulties in her life also led to alcohol abuse stating that binge drinking had been a problem for her and was where she turned to deal with pain. It seemed like her past traumas combined with the difficulties of fame really got to her as she often dealt with depression and was clear that she preferred quiet times in the country with her family over touring and performing in front of the world.

Sadly, it was ultimately alcohol that led to her accidental drowning at only 46 years of age in her London Hotel on January 15th, 2018. Dolores was found face-up submerged in her hotel room bathtub wearing her pajamas. The coroner reported that there were no drugs in Dolores’ system, other than her normal prescription medication; however, her blood alcohol level was four times the legal driving limit and five empty miniature bottles of alcohol and an empty miniature bottle of champagne were found at the scene. Her death was ruled accidental drowning due to alcohol intoxication. There was no note, nor indication that her death was anything except an accident.

What an unfortunate story. Dolores was survived by her ex-husband, their three children, and one step-son. Her funeral was held at Saint Ailbe’s Catholic Church in Limerick, Ireland where the service opened with a recording of Dolores singing Ave Maria with Luciano Pavarotti. At the end of the service The Cranberries, “When You’re Gone” was played and Dolores was laid to rest next to her father in a private cemetery. Below I’m including some images of Dolores being laid to rest and her grave as well as a YouTube video of Dolores performing an acoustic version of “Linger”.

Delores O'Riordan Funeral
Delores O'Riordan Grave

Linger - The Cranberries