Sinead O’Connor: Engaging Her Public, Seeking Her Peace

By RAVI SOMAIYA, New York Times

OUTSIDE Sinead O’Connor’s whitewashed home here, on a windswept beachfront overlooking the misty Irish Sea, there are two talismans. One, a knee-high statue of the Virgin Mary stands with her arms beatifically spread, silently welcoming visitors. The other, a crudely taped-up sign, written so emphatically in ballpoint that the paper is almost torn through, is directed at the reporters who have besieged the singer, her four children, three dogs and a cat in recent weeks. It reads: “Dearest loving hacks. This is your quote: Rock ’n’ Roll!”

When Ms. O’Connor opened the door on a recent afternoon, wearing a black T-shirt that read “Property of Jesus” under a long, black leather coat, a wool hat pulled down low over her blazing eyes, she sounded weary. “I’m very physically tired in a way that I’ve never been in my life,” she explained. “It’s almost like my blood feels like lead.”

The trouble began, she said, when she decided that after more than two decades in the news — most memorably for tearing up a picture of the pope on “Saturday Night Live” in 1992 to protest child abuse in the Catholic Church — she wouldn’t let the world “stop me being me,” or deny herself the instant pleasures of the Internet.

She took to her Web site last summer and advertised for a man. She was so starved for sex, she wrote, in very explicit terms, that “inanimate objects are starting to look good.” On Dec. 8, her 45th birthday, she married one of her respondents, an Irish youth drug counselor named Barry Herridge, then 38, at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas (the same place that Britney Spears began her 55-hour marriage to Jason Allen Alexander in 2004) and all-but live-tweeted the wedding night. They split days later. Only to reconcile. Only to split again. Now, she said, they are back together and firmly in love. Every stage of the relationship, she said — blaming the loneliness of celebrity, misplaced strategy and “too much adrenaline, too much excitement, too much everything” — was tweeted and blogged in almost real time, complete with pictures and occasional calls to a reporter or a radio station, fueling a barrage of snarky headlines.

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