Unreleased Sinead O’Connor song airs on BBC’s Magdalene laundries scandal drama

Singer Sinead O’Connor died in July aged 56 (Ian West/PA)
Singer Sinead O’Connor died in July aged 56 (Ian West/PA)

A Sinead O’Connor song which was previously unreleased has aired on a BBC One show.

The late Irish singer-songwriter gave psychological drama The Woman In The Wall the permission to use The Magdalene Song and it aired at the end of the last episode on Sunday.

The six-part series takes a look at a mysterious death in the wake of the Magdalene laundries scandal, which saw women talk about being detained against their will and forced to give up their children.

The Woman In the Wall,18-09-2023,5,Detective Colman Akande (DARYL McCORMACK), Lorna Brady (RUTH WILSON),Motive Pictures,Chris Barr (BBC/Motive Pictures/Chris BarrO
Daryl McCormack stars as Detective Colman Akande opposite Ruth Wilson in The Woman In The Wall (Chris Barr/Motive Pictures/BBC/PA) (Chris Barr/BBC/Motive Pictures/Chris Barr)

O’Connor – who died in July aged 56 – previously spoke openly about the abuse she faced while spending more than a year in a Magdalene laundry as a teenager.

According to Chrysalis Records, the use of the song was proposed by her producer, the Belfast DJ and composer David Holmes, and was “approved by Sinead before her passing”.

Holmes told the Observer: “The first half of the track is completely heartbreaking, and the second half is pure defiance.

“I stripped the song away to just Sinead’s voice and then let the full power come in for the second half.

“It’s incredible how the meaning of the song came together with this story. It was just meant to be. There’s a certain magic when you bring music to an emotive story.”

In the BBC series, Tipperary actor Daryl McCormack stars as Detective Colman Akande opposite British actress Ruth Wilson – who takes on the role of Lorna Brady.

The show follows Lorna, who has suffered from bouts of sleepwalking after being put in the Catholic institution as a teenager when she became pregnant, as Colman investigates the death of a priest.

Holmes said: “In the lyrics Sinead was trying to say, I think, that though she’d been through great turmoil, it would not stop her being who she wanted to be.

“She never really spoke about the meaning of her songs. She used to joke that she would often tell people that her songs were about something completely different to what they were about.”

He also said that his “big regret” is that O’Connor, who protested against sexual and physical abuse in the Catholic Church when she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in 1992, would not see the series.

In August, as O’Connor’s funeral procession passed by her former home in Bray, Co Wicklow, a guard of honour was made for the late singer by survivors of Magdalene laundries and mother and baby homes.

Organisers estimated about 100 people who had been affected by the Catholic Church travelled to honour the Dublin-born singer – who was found unresponsive by police at her south-east London home on July 26.

Her private funeral was attended by political figures including President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and musicians such as U2 frontman Bono and Bob Geldof.

She is buried in a south Dublin plot called The Garden.