An unreleased song from the late Sinéad O’Connor premiered in the finale of the BBC TV show The Woman In The Wall this weekend.

  • READ MORE: Sinéad O’Connor, 1966-2023: an artist of integrity, intensity and honesty

The show depicts the Magdalene Laundries of Ireland, institutions run by Roman Catholic orders between the 18th century and the 1990s which have been likened to labour camps for young mothers.

Before her death at the age of 56 this summer, O’Connor gave the BBC the rights to an unreleased song called ‘The Magdalene Song’ for use in the series.

On the track, which premiered at the climax of Sunday night’s (September 24) final episode of the show, O’Connor sings of the pain of losing a child and calls on her own experience of being in a similar institution from the age of 15.

Discussing the track, her producer David Holmes told The Guardian: “The first half of the track is completely heartbreaking, and the second half is pure defiance.

“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.”

He added: “Sinéad sanctioned the track for use before they had even started shooting, 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.”

You can hear the song on the final episode of The Woman In The Wall on BBC iPlayer here.

a black and white photograph of Sinead O'Connor performing live on stage in 1988
Irish singer Sinead O’Connor performs at Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 16 March 1988. (Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

Of the process of the song ending up in the series, Holmes added: “In the lyrics Sinéad 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. But this one – well, it’s called ‘The Magdalene Song’.”

When show producer Susan Breen told Holmes that she was a fan of O’Connor’s music, he said: “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’.’”

The musician and activist died on July 26, after being found unresponsive in her London home. She was laid to rest at a ceremony in the Irish town of Bray last month.

Bob Geldof and Bono were among those paying tribute to O’Connor at her funeral on August 8. It was also reported that a heartwarming tribute had been installed on cliffs overlooking the coast town – designed by Dublin-based creative agency The Tenth Man.

Since then, the singer’s children and family have thanked fans for their “outpouring of love” after her death in a statement.

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