Corrymeela News


Reflecting on the art and witness of Sinéad O’Connor

16 Sep 2023

“It is no measure of health to be well–adjusted to a profoundly sick society”. ~ Sinéad O Connor

Corrymeela’s monthly gathering ‘Borderlands’ had a particularly poignant night this past Tuesday. We were reflecting on the life and music of Sinéad O’Connor. These reflections were guided by the words of Kellie Turtle and Azadeh Sobout and the stunning singing of Erin Hill and Caroline Orr. 


The crescendo of Kellie’s fascinating words about Sinéad were around shame and it’s power in Ireland. “She understood the outworkings of oppressive religion in her own family and in Ireland as a nation. She could trace the trauma scars in her soul back through those of her mother and her mother before her. She was able to process the enormous impact of these structures of oppression in her life without disappearing under the sheer weight of them. And the key to that was right there in a line of the song that first brought her to the world’s attention: I don’t know no shame.” 

Azadeh spoke of the Arabic name Sinéad took at the end of her life, Shuhada. A name which at it’s root means to “bear witness”. “Her voice gives power back to victims, survivors, and witnesses. To those who have never had the right to speak, never had the right to bear witness. Her voice is powerful, moving the listener beyond the dichotomy of victim versus survivor, to resistance through words and action.”

We ended the evening with the words of Sinéad’s song “Back Where You Belong” which was a sort of benediction to the evening. In listening to that song it’s hard not to feel it being sung over us by a voice that no longer walks among us: 

“Sometimes life does things to you

That will hurt you and confuse you

But when you’re left behind, you’re sure to find

I am with you, though I can’t come with you

I am in you, and I’m always part of you

And all you ever have to do to bring me to you

Is come down with me

Come down when you need me

But for now, I want you to be happy

So, you must go back home

That’s where you belong

You must go back home…And I can’t come along”.


Kellie’s reflection is available here.

Azadeh’s reflection is available here.