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Unreleased Sinead O’Connor song soundtracks ‘The Woman in the Wall’

‘The Magdalene Song’ is the first new music from the singer since she died in July

By Joe Goggins

Sinéad O’Connor in 2014 during a live performance
Sinéad O’Connor in 2014 (Picture: Wikimedia Creative Commons/ Thesupermat)

An unreleased song by Sinead O’Connor was played over the credits of a new BBC drama last night.

‘The Magdalene Song’ soundtracked the closing moments of last night’s (September 24) series finale of The Woman in the Wall, which depicts the Magdalene Laundries of Ireland, which were run by the Roman Catholic Church in the country between the 18th century and the 1990s and which have drawn comparisons with forced labour camps.

For O’Connor, the matter was deeply personal. She gave the rights to the BBC to use the track earlier this year. The song lyrically speaks to the pain of losing a child, as well as to O’Connor’s own experience in a similar institution to the one depicted in The Woman in the Wall.

In January of last year, her son, Shane, died by suicide. In July, O’Connor herself passed at the age of 56, at her home in London. Her death marked an outpouring of tributes from across the cultural world, with Phoebe Bridgers penning a heartfelt tribute for Rolling Stone.

“Whether it’s about the famine or the Catholic Church or Margaret Thatcher, history is on her side in a way it wasn’t at the time,” wrote Bridgers. “People and the media were not nice to her. She was ostracized from so many things, and so many people thought she was a grumpy person. It’s abuse to be told to shut up and sing. It’s abuse to be worshipped and then hated. It’s such a sad and heartbreaking story. Behind every famous woman are tons and tons of rape and death threats. She made a huge sacrifice for women and for musicians and for people who believe in things. She was so not rewarded for it.”

O’Connor’s cause of death remains undisclosed. She was buried at Dean’s Grange Cemetery in suburban Dublin on August 8. She had been working on new music at the time of her death, and had recorded an album’s worth of material with David Holmes, based around the theme of healing. There is no news on any potential release.

“I want to mourn her but also celebrate her because that’s what we do in Ireland,” Holmes told The Guardian. “We celebrate our deaths. Yes, she was taken far too young but there’s so much to celebrate rather than talk about the negative aspects of her life. Sinéad was tortured but she was really happy as well and part of me thinks that she is now at peace.”