Sinéad O'Connor, born in Glenageary, Dublin. Her father, John O'Connor, was a barrister. Her parents divorced when she was eight. Sinéad O'Connor and her brother Joseph O'Connor (who was to become a writer) went to live with their mother. Their mother was killed in a road accident in 1985. Later Sinéad O'Connor claimed that she had been abused by her mother.
Sinéad O'Connor went to a Roman Catholic school but was expelled. She was arrested for shoplifting. She was then sent to a reformatory school. When she was 15 she was singing Barbra Streisand's Evergreen and was spotted by Paul Byrne, the drmmer for the Irish band "In Tua Tua". She co-wrote the first In Tua Tua single, Take My Hand.
She left her boarding school to attempt to make a career in music, and started by performing in coffee shops. Later on she studied voice and piano at the Dublin College of Music while supporting herself as a singing telegram.
In 1985 she signed up with Ensign Records and moved to London. In 1986 she made her recording debut with the soundtrack on the film The Captive. She began recording her debut album The Lion and the Cobra but was unhappy with it and re-recorded it with herself as the producer. It was one of the most acclaimed debut albums of 1987.
She courted controversy in the media with her defence of the actions of the IRA. She and her husband, the drummer John Reynolds, had a son, Jake, in 1988. However their marriage was disolved. She began a relationship with the black singer Hugh Harris.
By 1990 her version of the Prince song Nothing Compares to U had gone to the top of the charts in sixteen countries. The accompanying stark video of her with shaven head created a memorable image.
More controversy followed her refusal to perform in New Jersey if The Star Spangled Banner was played before her appearance. She also withdrew from an appearance on the NBC television programme Saturday Night Live because she regarded the guest host Andrew Dice Clay as misogynist. She also withdrew her name from the annual Grammy Awards even though she had been nominated four times.
In 1992 she finally appeared on "Saturday Night Live" but ended her performance by tearing up a photograph of Pope John Paul II. Condemnation followed, and when she appeared at New York's Madison Square Garden for a tribute concert for Bob Dylan she was booed off stage.
It was subsequently reported that she had retired from the music business. However, it was later claimed that she had returned to Dublin to resume her opera studies. She played Ophelia in a theatrical production of Hamlet, and she also joined Peter Gabriel in his WOMAD festival.
In 1994 she returned to pop music with the Universal Mother album. In 1997 she had a daughter, Roisin, by the Irish journalist John Walters.
In April 1999 she was ordained as a priest by the leader of the Tridentine order of Mater Dei, a quasi-Catholic religious sect in Ireland, and was styled Sinéad Mother Bernadette Maria O'Connor. She was subsequently promoted to archdeacon. She has also called herself a Rastafarian. Futhermore she has claimed to be a psychic medium after two years of training at the College of Psychic Studies in London.
In 2000, in the June/July edition of the best-selling US lesbian magazine "Curve", she came out as a lesbian. Although the magazine's official publication date was 27th. June the story appeared in the newspapers and on the internet early in June.
"I'm a lesbian. Although I haven't been very open about that, and throughout my life I've gone out with blokes because I haven't necessarily been terribly comfortable about being a lesbian. But I actually am a lesbian."
By the end of June 2000 she modified her position by saying that she was not a "full-on lesbian" but was actually bisexual.