The Irish public were stunned on Wednesday evening when news broke of the death of singer Sinéad O'Connor.
Dublin woman O'Connor died at the age of just 56 and, in a statement, her family said:
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad. Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.
The news of her death comes just one year after the tragic loss of her 17-year-old son Shane, and has left the Irish public mourning a woman who stood for so much more than her music.
An extraordinary personality, O'Connor was a voice of protest for her entire career, notably running into controversy in 1992 when she tore a photo of the Pope live on air while performing on 'Saturday Night Live.'
O'Connor lived a troubled life, alleging that she had suffered abuse at the hands of her mother as a child, while she would later face ostracism from the industry after the SNL incident.
But she remained a widely-adored figure in Ireland, and one story shared in the aftermath of her death from actor Russell Crowe sums up what made Sinéad O'Connor such a special woman.
Russell Crowe had poignant Sinéad O'Connor story to share
New Zealander Russell Crowe took to Twitter on Wednesday night to share his condolences for the late Sinéad O'Connor and, in doing so, shared a touching story of a chance encounter with the singer on the streets of Dublin.
Last year, working in Ireland, having a pint in the cold outside a Dalkey pub with some new friends, a woman with purpose strode past us. Puffy parker zipped to the nape and her bowed head covered in a scarf. One of my new friends muttered an exclamation, jumped up
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) July 26, 2023
Crowe recalled running into O'Connor in Dalkey last year, and shared the story of their conversation, in a wonderful summation of what made O'Connor such a special personality:
Lat year, working in Ireland, having a pint in the cold outside a Dalkey pub with some new friends, a woman with purpose strode past us. Puffy arker zipped to the nape and her bowed head covered in a scarf.
One of my new friends muttered an exclamation, jumped up and pursued the woman. Thirty metres down the road the friend and the woman embraced and he waved me over. There under streetlights with mist on my breath, I met Sinéad.
She looked in my eyes, and uttered with disarming softness "oh, it's you Russell". She came with us back to the table and sat in the cold and ordered a hot tea.
In a conversation without fences we roamed through the recent Dublin heatwave, local politics, American politics, the ongoing fight for indigenous recognition in many places, but particularly in Australia, her warm memory of New Zealand, faith, music, movies and her brother the writer. I had the opportunity to tell her she was a hero of mine.
When her second cup was taking on the night air, she rose, embraced us all and strode away into the fog-dimmed streetlights.
We sat there the four of us and variously expressed the same thing. What an amazing woman.
Peace be with your courageous heart Sinéad.
The story of a gentle soul making substantial time in their day for a "conversation without fences" has touched many on social media, as tributes pour in for a wonderful talent and person taken far too early.