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Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan (/ˈrɪərdən/; 6 September 1971 – 15 January 2018)[3] was an Irish musician, singer and songwriter. She was the lead vocalist for rock band The Cranberries from 1990 until they disbanded in 2003, later reuniting with her band in 2009, which she led until her death in 2018.[4] Her death caused the Cranberries to disband for the second time.

Dolores O'Riordan
Dolores O'Riordan performing in May 2012.jpg
O'Riordan performing in Montreal in May 2012
Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan[1]

(1971-09-06)6 September 1971
Ballybricken, County Limerick, Ireland
Died15 January 2018(2018-01-15) (aged 46)
Mayfair, London, UK
Cause of deathDrowning due to alcohol intoxication
Burial placeCaherelly Cemetery
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
Don Burton
(m. 1994; div. 2014)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • bass
Years active1989–2018
Associated acts
Dolores O'Riordan signature.svg

O'Riordan's first solo album, Are You Listening?, was released in May 2007 and was followed up by No Baggage in 2009. O'Riordan was known for her lilting mezzo-soprano voice,[5] her emphasised use of keening,[6] and her strong Limerick accent.[7] She appeared as a judge on RTÉ's The Voice of Ireland during the 2013–14 season. In April 2014, O'Riordan joined and began recording new material with the trio D.A.R.K.


Early lifeEdit

Dolores O'Riordan was born 6 September 1971 in Ballybricken, County Limerick, the youngest of nine children, two of whom died in infancy.[8] Her six siblings include Terence, Brendan, Donal, PJ, Joseph, and Angela.[9] Her father, Terence Patrick "Terry" O'Riordan (1937–2011),[9] was a farm labourer who was left unable to work due to brain damage caused by a motorbike accident in 1968.[10] Her mother, Eileen (née Greensmith), was a school caterer. O'Riordan was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family,[11] and was named by her mother in reference to the Lady of the Seven Dolours.[12] O'Riordan attended Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ school in Limerick. She later admitted in an interview in 1995 that she had neglected her lessons in favour of writing rap music and song, although at school she became head girl.[13] O'Riordan left school without any qualifications.[8][14][15]

Following her father's death in 2011, O'Riordan described how, from the age of eight, she was sexually abused for four years by an unnamed person whom she trusted.[16]


1989–2003: The Cranberries and marriageEdit

In 1989, brothers Mike (bass) and Noel (guitar) Hogan formed The Cranberry Saw Us with drummer Fergal Lawler and singer Niall Quinn, in Limerick, Ireland. Less than a year later, Quinn left the band.[17] The remaining band members then placed an advertisement for a female singer. O'Riordan responded to the advertisement and auditioned by writing lyrics and melodies to some existing demos.[18] When she returned with a rough version of "Linger", she was hired, and they recorded Nothing Left At All, a three-track EP released on tape by local record label Xeric Records, which sold 300 copies.[18] The group changed their name to "The Cranberries".[19] The owner of Xeric Studios, Pearse Gilmore, became their manager and provided the group with studio time to complete another demo tape, which he produced. It featured early versions of "Linger" and "Dreams", which were sent to record companies throughout the UK.[18]

This demo earned the attention of both the UK press and record industry and sparked a bidding war between major British record labels. Eventually, the group signed with Island Records.[18] As part of The Cranberries, O'riordan contributed to the release of five albums: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? (1993), No Need to Argue (1994), To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury the Hatchet (1999), and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001), and a greatest-hits compilation, Stars: The Best of 1992–2002.[20]

The Cranberries performing on the Roxy Bar show at Bologna in 1995

O'Riordan has been recognised as a style icon, sporting a pixie cut or buzzed hair in the 1990s[21] and performing barefoot, saying "it just feels comfortable and honest to pull your toes along the ground."[22] On 18 July 1994, O'Riordan married Don Burton, the former tour manager of Duran Duran, at Holy Cross Abbey in Co. Tipperary. The couple had three children (Taylor (b. 1997), Molly (b. 2001), and Dakota (b. 2005).[23] In 1998, the couple bought a 61-hectare (150-acre) stud farm, called Riversfield Stud, located in Kilmallock, County Limerick, before selling it in 2004. They then moved to Howth, County Dublin, and spent summers in a log cabin in Buckhorn, Ontario, Canada.[24][25]

In September 1995, O'Riordan performed "Ave Maria" along with Luciano Pavarotti; Princess Diana, who attended the live performance, told O'Riordan that the song brought her to tears.[26]

In 2003, the band decided to take a temporary time-out to experiment on solo projects.[27]

2003–2014: Solo career, other projects and divorceEdit

In 2004, she appeared with the Italian artist Zucchero on the album Zu & Co., with the song "Pure Love". The album also featured other artists such as Sting, Sheryl Crow, Luciano Pavarotti, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Macy Gray, and Eric Clapton. The same year she worked with composer Angelo Badalamenti of Twin Peaks fame on the Evilenko soundtrack, providing vocals on several tracks, including "Angels Go to Heaven", the movie's theme song.[28][29]

In 2005, she appeared on the Jam & Spoon's album Tripomatic Fairytales 3003 as a guest vocalist on the track "Mirror Lover".[30] She made a cameo appearance in the Adam Sandler comedy Click, released on 23 June 2006, as a wedding singer performing an alternate version of The Cranberries' "Linger", set to strings. Her first single, "Ordinary Day", was produced by BRIT Awards winner, Youth, whose previous credits included The Verve, Embrace, Primal Scream, U2, and Paul McCartney.[31] O'Riordan made an appearance live on The Late Late Show on 20 April 2007.[32]

O'Riordan promoting her debut solo album Are You Listening? in 2007

Are You Listening? was released in Ireland on 4 May 2007, in Europe on 7 May, and in North America on 15 May. "Ordinary Day" was its first single, released in late April. The video for "Ordinary Day" was shot in Prague. In August "When We Were Young" was released as the second single from the album.[33][34]

In 2006, O'Riordan was listed among the 10 richest women in Ireland.[35]

On 19 November 2007, she cancelled the remainder of her European Tour (Lille, Paris, Luxembourg, Warsaw, and Prague) due to illness.[36] In December, she performed in a few small American clubs, including Des Moines, Nashville, and a well-received free show in Charlottesville, Virginia.[37] Her second album, No Baggage, featuring 11 tracks, was released in August 2009.[38]

In 2008, O'Riordan won an EBBA Award. Every year the European Border Breakers Awards recognize the success of ten emerging artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.[39]

In 2009, O'Riordan and her family moved full-time to Buckhorn.[40] In August 2013, she returned to live in Ireland. O'Riordan and her husband Burton ended their relationship in late 2014 after 20 years together.[41] They later divorced.[42]

She appeared as a judge on RTÉ's The Voice of Ireland during the 2013–14 season.[43]

2009–2018: The Cranberries reunionEdit

O'Riordan performing with her signature guitar at Paris in May 2010

In January 2009, the University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin) invited The Cranberries to reunite for a concert celebrating O'Riordan's appointment as an honorary member of the Society, which led the band members to consider reuniting for a tour and a recording session.[44][45][46]

On 25 August 2009, while promoting her solo album No Baggage in New York City on 101.9 RXP radio, O'Riordan announced the reunion of the Cranberries for a world tour. The tour began in North America in mid-November, followed by South America in mid-January 2010 and Europe in March 2010.[47] Also touring with the original members of the Cranberries was Denny DeMarchi, who played the keyboard for O'Riordan's solo albums.[48] The band played songs from O'Riordan's solo albums, many of the Cranberries' classics, as well as new songs. On 9 June 2010, The Cranberries performed at the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Thomond Park in Limerick; it was the first time the band had performed in their native city in over 15 years.[49]

On 26 May 2016, the band announced that they planned to start a tour in Europe. The first show was held on 3 June.[50] In December 2017, one month before her death, Eminem released his album Revival which included a large sample from the song "Zombie" as the hook for his rap song "In Your Head".[51] O'Riordan remained in the band until her unexpected death on 15 January 2018.[43]

2014–2018: D.A.R.K.Edit

O'Riordan began recording new material with Jetlag, a collaboration between Andy Rourke of The Smiths and Olé Koretsky, in April 2014. They then formed a trio under the name D.A.R.K. Their first album, Science Agrees, was released in September 2016.[52][53]

O'Riordan remained with the band as well as with The Cranberries, until her unexpected death in January 2018.[43]

Personal lifeEdit

Raised Catholic, O'Riordan was an admirer of Pope John Paul II,[54] whom she met twice, in 2001 and 2002.[55] She performed at the invitation of Pope Francis in 2013 at the Vatican's annual Christmas concert.[56]

In November 2014, O'Riordan was arrested and charged in connection with air rage on an Aer Lingus flight from New York to Shannon. During the flight, she grew verbally and physically abusive to the crew. When police were arresting her, she resisted, reminding them that her taxes paid their wages and shouting "I'm the Queen of Limerick! I'm an icon!", headbutting one Garda officer and spitting at another.[57] Later she told the media that she had been stressed from living in New York hotels following the end of her 20-year marriage.[58] The judge hearing her case agreed to dismiss all charges if she apologised in writing to her victims and contributed €6,000 to the court poor box.[57]

In May 2017, she publicly discussed her bipolar disorder, which she said had been diagnosed two years earlier.[59] That same month, the Cranberries cited her back problems as the reason for cancelling the second part of the group's European tour. In late 2017, O'Riordan said she was recovering and performed at a private event.[60][61] Her final public performance was on 14 December 2017 in New York at a holiday party for Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group. With 90s cover band act Saved by the 90s, she sang "Ode to my Family", "Linger" and "Zombie".[62]


On 15 January 2018, O'Riordan was found unresponsive at the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel in Mayfair. She was pronounced dead later that same morning.[43][63] The cause of death was not immediately made public, but an inquest held on 6 September[64] ruled that she died as a result of accidental drowning in a bathtub, following sedation by alcohol intoxication. Empty bottles were found in O'Riordan's room (five miniature bottles and a champagne bottle) as well as some prescription drugs, but toxicology tests showed that her body contained only "therapeutic" amounts of these medications but 330 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (3.30g/L), a blood alcohol content of 0.33%.[65]

O'Riordan’s grave
O'Riordan's and her father's tombstone at Caherelly Cemetery in Herbertstown

Funeral plans included a service reserved for extended family and close friends.[66] A three-day memorial in her hometown, with O'Riordan lying in repose, lasted from 20 to 22 January at St Joseph's church. O'Riordan's songs were played, while photographs of the singer performing and one of her with Pope John Paul II were placed along the walls.[67][68][69]

She was buried on 23 January after a service at Saint Ailbe's Roman Catholic Church, Ballybricken, County Limerick; it began with the studio recording of "Ave Maria" as sung by O'Riordan and Luciano Pavarotti. At the end of the service the Cranberries' song "When You're Gone" was played. Among the attendees at her funeral were her mother, Eileen; her three children, Taylor, Molly, and Dakota and their father, O'Riordan's former husband, Don Burton; her sister, Angela, and brothers Terence, Brendan, Donal, Joseph, and PJ; Cranberries members Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan, and Fergal Lawler; former rugby union player Ronan O'Gara,[70] and her boyfriend Olé Koretsky.[71] O'Riordan was buried alongside her father.[72]

Tributes, reactions and legacyEdit

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, was one of the first to pay tribute.[73] Other early tributes came in from across the music world, including Dave Davies (of the Kinks), Hozier, and Kodaline.[74] The Taoiseach of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, also paid tribute to O'Riordan.[75] Polish President Andrzej Duda paid tribute as well.[76] Also, as a tribute, the Avett Brothers covered The Cranberries song "Linger".[77] On 18 January, the heavy metal band Bad Wolves released a cover of "Zombie" (originally by The Cranberries), which charted on multiple Billboard charts.[78][79] O'Riordan was supposed to have performed the song with the band, but died before recording it.[78] On 28 January, a children's choir from New York City sang The Cranberries song "Dreams" in O'Riordan's memory.[80]

"Dreams" was played in Croke Park to the capacity 82,000 crowd on 19 August, after Limerick won the Liam MacCarthy Cup in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship for the first time in 45 years. The cup was later toured around Limerick and was brought by the team to O'Riordan's family home in Ballybricken.[81]

Nine days after O'Riordan's cause of death was revealed, bandmate Noel Hogan confirmed that the Cranberries band name would be retired after the release of their 2019 album.[82] He stated: "We don't want to continue without Dolores, so we're just going to leave after this".[83]

Solo discographyEdit


Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
Are You Listening?
  • Released: 4 May 2007
  • Label: Sanctuary
  • Formats: CD, digital download
15 38 11 39 2 10 28 77
No Baggage 80 75 30 77 6 25
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
2004 "Pure Love" (with Zucchero) Zu & Co.
2007 "Ordinary Day" 50 2 Are You Listening?
"When We Were Young"
2009 "The Journey" No Baggage
"Switch Off the Moment"
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Other appearancesEdit

Title Year Other artist(s) Comment
"Soon Is Never Enough" 1992 Moose Backing vocals[90]
"Carousel" 1993 Touch of Oliver Backing vocals[91]
"The Sun Does Rise" 1994 Jah Wobble Duet[92]
"Pure Love" 2004 Zucchero Duet[93]
"Mirror Lover" 2005 Jam & Spoon Vocals[30]
"The Butterfly" 2006 Angelo Badalementi Vocals
"Senza Fiato" 2007 Giuliano Sangiorgi Duet[94]

Other contributionsEdit

Title Year Album Comment
"God Be with You" 1997 The Devil's Own [95]
"It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" 1999 Single With supergroup Artists for Children's Promise
"Ave Maria" 2004 The Passion of the Christ: Songs Inspired By Solo track[96]
"Angels Go to Heaven" Evilenko Vocals; film soundtrack[28][29]
"The Woodstrip/There's No Way Out"
"Linger" 2006 Click Film soundtrack[97]
"Centipede Sisters" 2008 Roll Play 2 Television soundtrack[98]
"Cryopian D" 2015 Like a Puppet Show Vocals and mixed; vinyl-only release[99]
"Angela's Song" 2017 Angela's Christmas (Netflix) Netflix Film Music Performer[100]


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External linksEdit