COUNT­DOWN TO A TRADGEDY

had ex­pe­ri­enced dif­fi­cult times over the years, be­ing sep­a­rated from her chil­dren and bat­tling men­tal health is­sues. But she seemed to have ar­rived in a good place, and was look­ing for­ward to a pro­duc­tive year in 2018...

Hot Press - - Music News 4201 - BY JA­SON O'TOOLE

The year had started promis­ingly for Dolores O’Rior­dan. The Cran­ber­ries singer was con­vinced that 2018 was go­ing to be a great year for her Her lat­est out­fit D.A.R.K were plan­ning to re­lease new record­ings in May. And she was also in talks with the BMG la­bel about a new Cran­ber­ries al­bum. It is no se­cret that the 46-year-old’s con­fi­dence had been low for much of 2017. Gigs had been can­celled. Back prob­lems were cited as the cause, but the hard re­al­ity of it must have been tough on her morale.

How­ever, Dolores ap­peared to be in bet­ter form dur­ing the run-up to Christ­mas. She played a cor­po­rate gig in New York and en­joyed it: it was the first time she had per­formed live in sev­eral months and it gave her a shot of much-needed, re­newed con­fi­dence.

Af­ter the gig, she wrote on Face­book: “Feel­ing good! I did my first bit of gig­ging in months at the week­end, per­formed a few songs at the Bill­board an­nual staff hol­i­day party in New York with the house band. Re­ally en­joyed it!”

She spent Christ­mas Day in the Big Ap­ple with the new man in her life, Olé Koret­sky. They met in 2015 and had started the band D.A.R.K to­gether.

In­evitably, the count­down to Christ­mas must have been emo­tion­ally dif­fi­cult for Dolores, who was di­ag­nosed as bi-po­lar in 2015. Her chil­dren – Tay­lor Bax­ter (20), Molly

Leigh (16), and Dakota Rain (12) – have been liv­ing with her ex-hus­band, Don Bur­ton, in Canada. It is a time of year that ac­cen­tu­ates any sense of loss we are feel­ing.

Dolores flew to Canada on St. Stephen’s Day, to spend time with the chil­dren. She wrote ex­cit­edly on her Twit­ter ac­count about fly­ing out “to see my ba­bies” and used three heart emo­jis to ex­press her joy at be­ing re­united with them. Dolores ap­peared pen­sive in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing pho­to­graph of her­self at an air­port cafe­te­ria.

Her chil­dren mat­tered hugely to Dolores. While dark clouds have hung over her for many years, and oc­ca­sional storms erupted along the way, the chil­dren pro­vided an an­chor for her, through trou­bled times. In 2013, Dolores re­vealed that she had once “tried to over­dose”, but that she felt that she was “meant to stay here for the kids.”

She trav­elled from Canada back to New York in time to spend New Year’s Eve with Olé, who touch­ingly de­scribed Dolores last week as his “friend, part­ner and love of my life”. There was no ev­i­dence of a he­do­nis­tic rock ‘n’ roll life­style. That wasn’t Dolores’ style. Olé posted a pho­to­graph of the two of them in a lov­ing em­brace with the cap­tion: “NYE: take away, TV, pa­ja­mas.”

On 3 Jan­uary, Dolores re­turned to Ire­land, where she was liv­ing. On the same day, she posted the last pub­licly known pho­to­graph of her­self, hold­ing the cou­ple’s NY cat, Gio.

“Bye bye Gio,” she tweeted. “We’re off to Ire­land.”

De­spite her sta­tus as an in­ter­na­tional rock star, in many re­spects Dolores was a home bird. She loved get­ting back to Lim­er­ick. Brigid Teefy, a fam­ily friend and an In­de­pen­dent lo­cal coun­cil­lor, re­flected on that qual­ity. “Dolores would come and go here all the time,” she said. “She had been home very reg­u­larly. She was world fa­mous, but she was al­ways very grounded and very at­tached to her na­tive place.”

For Dolores, doubt­less there was strength in fa­mil­iar­ity.

“She could be her­self around here,” Brigid said. “She was sim­ply Dolores to ev­ery­body here. She never had any se­cu­rity with her. She was lovely.”

Back in Lim­er­ick, Dolores liked to stay fit. It was good for the mind as well as the body. “She would al­ways be out run­ning and jog­ging,” said Brigid.

Dolores spoke to Hot Press in the past about men­tal health is­sues. One of her most like­able qual­i­ties was the hon­esty with which she dealt with is­sues of this kind. She was a sur­vivor of sex­ual abuse suf­fered as “a lit­tle girl.” She had strug­gled with eat­ing dis­or­ders, in­clud­ing anorexia. And she had been up and down with de­pres­sion long be­fore be­ing di­ag­nosed as bi-po­lar.

She bat­tled through these dif­fi­cul­ties and felt now that she was on the right road. She was in ther­apy and ap­peared op­ti­mistic.

Her friend Dave Davies of The Kinks said that they’d spo­ken shortly be­fore

Christ­mas and he reck­oned Dolores “seemed happy and well.” She was very friendly with Sun­day In­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ist Barry Egan, and they had ex­changed emails re­cently. “I am happy in Lim­er­ick now,” Dolores told him.

In a mov­ing trib­ute, Egan wrote: “We talked via email dur­ing the last week of her life. She said she needed to have goals to look for­ward to and how she was feel­ing a lot bet­ter now.

She said she had stopped look­ing back. It was great to talk to her.

“When­ever I emailed her, she would re­ply, some­times within the hour, to say that things were go­ing pos­i­tively in her life and that her coun­sel­lor thought she was mak­ing great progress. I was ab­so­lutely de­lighted for her. ‘Mak­ing mu­sic and look­ing for­ward is im­por­tant,’ she said. ‘Lots of love. Dolores x’.”

Dolores had talked about how want­ing to play a con­cert in Lim­er­ick in the near fu­ture. Ac­cord­ing to one news­pa­per re­port, “She had re­hearsed in Lim­er­ick mu­sic venue Dolan’s Ware­house a month ago and was plan­ning to play there soon, staff said.”

Home­com­ings of that sort were im­por­tant.

She was widely loved in the city. Speak­ing on the RTE news, a fan de­scribed her as the Queen of Lim­er­ick. She was cer­tainly the city’s most fa­mous fe­male ever.

On 14 Jan­uary, Dolores O’Rior­dan flew to Lon­don and checked into the Hil­ton Ho­tel on Park Lane in West Lon­don. O’Rior­dan’s pub­li­cist, Lind­sey Holmes of LHPR, ex­plained that, “The pri­mary pur­pose of Dolores’s trip to Lon­don last Sun­day evening was for a stu­dio mix­ing ses­sion on Mon­day and Tues­day with Martin ‘Youth’ Glover on a re­cently recorded D.A.R.K. al­bum.”

In the af­ter­math of her death, it was re­ported that Dolores was also in Lon­don to record the vo­cals on a new ver­sion of The Cran­ber­ries smash hit sin­gle ‘Zom­bie’ with hard rock band Bad Wolves. Dolores also planned meet­ing with se­nior ex­ec­u­tives at BMG to dis­cuss a new al­bum by The Cran­ber­ries. It all pointed to­wards a sense of re­newed ac­tiv­ity and with it an un­der­ly­ing op­ti­mism.

Dolores had said that one of her goals was to record and re­lease new ma­te­rial in 2018. “I haven’t been do­ing too much over the last five years. Some­times you go through pe­ri­ods where you’re not writ­ing mu­sic, you’re just deal­ing with your per­sonal life,” she said.

Just af­ter mid­night on that Sun­day night in Lon­don, Dolores left an up­beat voice­mail on the phone of Dan Waite, man­ag­ing direc­tor of rock mu­sic la­bel Eleven Seven, to which Bad Wolves are signed.

“She sounded full of life, was jok­ing and ex­cited to see me and my wife this week,”

Waite said.

Dolores had a meet­ing sched­uled for 12.30 the fol­low­ing day with record pro­ducer Martin ‘Youth’ Glove. “It was good tim­ing for her,” he said. “It wasn’t go­ing to be stress­ful. She was com­ing in the night be­fore, and we were both ex­cited about see­ing each other again.”

Youth sent her a text on Mon­day morn­ing to re-con­firm the ar­range­ments, but there was no re­sponse.

The fol­low­ing Fri­day, had all gone ac­cord­ing to plan, Dolores would have boarded a flight back to Lim­er­ick. In­stead, an in­quest into her death was be­ing held at West­min­ster Coro­ner’s Court in Lon­don. It was ad­journed un­til April 3, while the court awaits the re­sults of tests.

In­evitably, there has been much spec­u­la­tion about how Dolores died, with some US pub­li­ca­tions claim­ing to know the ex­act cause of death – but it would be ir­re­spon­si­ble to spec­u­late or re­peat such claims.

Dolores had once said that she wanted to pack as much as pos­si­ble into her life. “Be­cause I am not go­ing to live that long,” she said. “I’m 43. If I see 50, I’ll be happy. I mean that.”

Poignantly, she has now been laid to rest, in the fam­ily plot at Ca­her­ally Ceme­tery, just out­side her home­town of Fri­arstown, Co. Lim­er­ick, along­side her fa­ther Terry, who died from can­cer at the age of 68 back in 2011.

Dolores will be cru­elly missed, but her mu­sic will live on. For those clos­est to her, that is no con­so­la­tion. But her mu­sic was her gift to the world. We should trea­sure it al­ways.

PHOTO: MARK NIXON

D.A.R.K fea­tur­ing Dolores O'Rior­dan of The Cran­ber­ries, Andy Rourke of The Smiths

and DJ Ole Koret­sky Photo: Jen Maler

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