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Hundreds gather to say goodbye to Sinéad O’Connor at funeral procession in Ireland

By Catherine Nicholls, Amy Croffey and Caolán Magee, CNN

London (CNN) — Hundreds of people lined the streets to pay tribute to the late Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor on Tuesday, cheering, clapping and throwing flowers as her funeral cortege drove past her old house in Bray, County Wicklow, in Ireland.

O’Connor’s coffin was covered in blue, white and pink flowers as mourners sang along to the singer’s music playing from a Volkswagen Beetle van draped in rainbow flags.

A photograph of the singer was also visible through the back window of the cortege.

O’Connor, known for her pure voice and political activism, died last month at the age of 56. Her death is not being treated as suspicious.

Amongst the crowd were children with teddy bears and scooters. People wore Irish hats, scarves and flags, carried flowers, banners and even a guitar. Many brought their dogs along.

Whilst O’Connor had a public funeral procession, her burial was held privately.

According to Ireland’s public broadcaster RTE, singers Bob Geldof and U2’s Bono attended the private burial service.

The Irish Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Leo Varadkar, alongside the Irish President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina were also present, RTE reported.

Higgins said in a statement sent to CNN last month: “What Ireland has lost at such a relatively young age is one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades, one who had a unique talent and extraordinary connection with her audience, all of whom held such love and warmth for her.”

“May her spirit find the peace she sought in so many different ways,” his statement concluded.

O’Connor was known for her political activism and many of the crowd at the funeral procession followed suit. One man carried a sign protesting Ireland’s treatment of children in care homes and orphanages, while another woman wore a Free Palestine T-shirt. Several people waved pride flags.

O’Connor’s funeral took place on Tuesday morning and was led by the Chief Imam of the Islamic Centre of Ireland, Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, who said on X – formerly known as Twitter – that he extends his “heartfelt appreciation” to the family for recognizing and embracing her Muslim identity.

In O’Connor’s eulogy, Al-Qadri said that O’Connor “suffered more than her share of hardship and adversity, especially in her formative years, much of it from adults and institutions she revered, and yet she displayed an unflinching and resolute faith in the Divine.”

“The more she sang and spoke about her own pain, as well as about the pervasive sins in society that she witnessed, the more her voice and her words resonated with listeners and touched their hearts,” he added.

On Sunday, a 30-foot tribute to O’Connor was unveiled on a hillside in Bray. It read “ÉIRE SINÉAD,” with a heart emoji between the two words. “Eire” is the name for Ireland in the Irish language.

O’Connor lived in the seaside town of Bray, just south of Dublin, for 15 years.

She shot to fame in 1990 with her rendition of the Prince song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which reached number 1 in the United States, received multiple Grammy nominations and produced an iconic music video featuring O’Connor with close-cropped hair and a dark turtleneck.

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