Sinéad O'Connor's final song "The Magdalene Song" has aired at the conclusion of a six-part series drama The Woman In The Wall. She had given permission to the show's producers for its use before her passing in July.
O'Connor had been working with Belfast musician David Holmes off and on since 2018. There was high anticipation that the fruits of their collaboration would result in her 11th studio album No Veteran Dies Alone. However, her family now has the ultimate decision on whether that will see the light of day.
"The first half of the track is completely heartbreaking, and the second half is pure defiance," Holmes relayed to The Guardian. "I stripped the song away to just Sinéad'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."
Holmes had been composing for the series when one of the show's producers mentioned she was an O'Connor fan. "I told Sinéad the script was not like anything else anyone has done on the subject, and it had Ruth Wilson, one of the finest actors in the world – on a different level. Sinéad said: 'I believe you. Give them The Magdalene Song.'"
While the series is a dramatization, the real history has still yet to be uncovered. Labeled the "Maggies," women and girls were stripped of their names and dumped in Irish Catholic church-run laundries where nuns treated them as slaves, simply because they were unwed mothers, orphans or regarded as somehow morally rebellious.
Over 74 years,10,000 women were put to work in de facto detention, mostly in laundries run by nuns. At least 988 of the women who were buried in laundry grounds are thought to have spent most of their lives inside the institutions.
The Irish government finally admitted in 2013 their existence but has not issued a formal apology to the victims. O'Connor was placed in one such institution at the age of 15 for shoplifting. She stated later that she was not harmed or treated as viciously as she saw some others were.
"Sinéad sanctioned the track for use before they had even started shooting," Holmes revealed. "And when the producers heard it they were amazed to have something so strong. We all felt the only place this can go is at the end."