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A Voice that Lingers: Cranberries’ Singer Dolores O’Riordan

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPRM chapter.


“Another mother’s breakin’ heart is taking over; when the violence causes silence, we must be mistaken.” It was merely Saturday when I was on my way back home after work, when I turned on the radio and the Cranberries’ iconic single “Zombie” adorned my ears. The following five minutes were mimicking the guitar solo and chorusing as if singing along with the lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan. On Monday, at noon, I almost flinched after reading the Rolling Stone’s headline: “Dolores O’Riordan, the Cranberries Singer, Dead at 46.”

O’Riordan, the youngest of seven children, was the Cranberries’ chief lyricist and co-songwriter, and “her powerful, sometimes wailing voice was key to the band’s distinctive sound,” as published in the CNBC website. Their fuse of alternative rock with its Celtic-infused pop tunefulness caught the attention of millions of fans throughout the world, and her distinctive vocal range was undoubtedly one of the most iconic voices in the music industry.

The band’s 1993 debut album “Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” sold millions of copies and produced the single “Linger.” Their second album, “No Need to Argue,” which included “Zombie,” sold in bigger numbers, and topped singles charts in several countries.

Back in 1995, Rolling Stone stated that O’Riordan rivaled “Madonna in MTV air time,” and the Cranberries’ second album was “enjoying Top 10 status in the United States and a No. 1 ranking throughout much of Europe.” Their debut album had already sold 3.5 million copies two years after being released in 1993, making them “Ireland’s biggest musical export since U2.”

The news report described O’Riordan’s voice “with its round tones and nuanced yodels, bespeaks Irish tradition,” but “distinguished by a slight hoarseness that hints faintly at inner anger.” It was for this reason O’Riordan had been compared with her compatriot, Sinéad O’Connor, although O’Riordan detested the comparison. “What I do is so different,” she said. “I might have been singing before she ever sang — who knows? It’s not like I’m not going to sing because somebody from up the road got there first because she was a few years older than me.”

Before splitting up in 2003, the Cranberries released three more studio albums; in 2007, O’Riordan released a solo album, “Are You Listening,” and another in 2009, “No Baggage.” That year, the Cranberries reunited and released the album “Roses” in 2012.

O’Riordan’s publicist Lindsey Holmes, revealed she “died suddenly in London,” and that the O’Riordan’s family was “devastated” by the news.

Her cause of death is still unknown however, The Irish Times mentioned the Cranberries had to cancel tour dates last year, due to “medical reasons associated with a back problem,” as stated in the band’s official website.

BBC indicates that, in 2013, she revealed in an interview that she “had been abused as a child, which led to her developing an eating disorder, and eventually she suffered a breakdown.” She also portrayed her family, “especially her children,” as her “salvation.”

Prior to this cancellation, O’Riordan had also been diagnosed as bipolar in 2015. Sources state that her diagnosis may justify an incident in 2014, where she was accused of assaulting three police officers and a flight attendant during a flight from New York to Ireland. Two years later, she was fined €6,000, an equivalent to $6,600. That same year, she split from her husband, Don Burton, former tour manager for Duran Duran, and with whom she had three children.

During December, O’Riordan had posted on Facebook that she was “feeling good” and had done her “first bit of giggling in months” at the Billboard annual staff holiday party in New York with the house band. In early January, she tweeted an image of herself with her cat, saying “off to Ireland” to her fans.

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, declared O’Riordan and the Cranberries “had an immense influence on rock and pop music in Ireland and internationally.” He also added “To all those who follow and support Irish music, Irish musicians and the performing arts, her death will be a big loss.”

Irish Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said she was possibly “Limerick’s greatest ever rock star,” and that the Cranberries “captured all of the angst that came with your teenage years.”

Celebrities and musicians, such as Hozier, Josh Groban, James Corden, and Duran Duran expressed their condolences via social media, as well as their reactions of her sudden death. Duran Duran’s official twitter account posted that they were “crushed to hear the news” about her passing, and their “thoughts go out to her family at this terrible time.”

The Cranberries’ official Facebook account posted an emotional status expressing their devastation “on the passing of our friend Dolores.  She was an extraordinary talent and we feel very privileged to have been part of her life from 1989 when we started the Cranberries. The world has lost a true artist today.”

Dolores O’Riordan’s music and legacy will be truly missed, and cherished in the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. An immortal icon of 90s alternative rock, O’Riordan’s voice and lyrics will linger throughout the history of music.


Celia M. Ayala Lugo is pursuing her Ph.D. in Literatures and Languages of the Caribbean in English at University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. She studied her MA in English Education and worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at UPR Mayagüez. She also graduated with a BA in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and a teaching certificate from the Department of Education of Puerto Rico at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico at San Germán. Celia has partaken in various conferences, both locally and internationally, such as PRTESOL, Coloquio de Mujeres, International Auto/Biography Association, and Popular Culture Association. Some of her literary works have been published in literary magazines such as Sábanas Magazine and El Vicio del Tintero. For the first time, one of her research papers has been recently published in the Journal of Modern Education Review. Her areas of interest include Caribbean and children’s literature, Caribbean women’s poetry, intersectionality, post-colonialism, and decolonization.
English Major at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. With a minor in Comunications and a minor in Marketing. Interested in all things entertainment and pop culture. Passionate writer and aspiring journalist. Former Campus Correspondent at HC UPRM.