SINEAD O’CONNOR has lifted the lid on her troubled formative years and the moment she was inspired to take up music.
In an extract from her new memoir, Rememberings, published in the Irish Times the Nothing Compares 2 U singer has revealed how she was expelled from three different schools in the space of just nine months before being sent to a reformatory.
According to O’Connor, the trouble stemmed from the fact she was “stealing everything” as a young teen and being “generally a pain in the ass.”
Her life changed, however, after the Fureys performed at her school – though she also reveals that Finbar Furey later had no recollection of the gig when she met him.
In the extract, O’Connor explains: "I’ve actually been thrown out of, like, three schools in the past nine months.
"And I still keep getting caught stealing. If a thing ain’t nailed down, I’m stealing it. I don’t even know why."
O’Connor developed a habit of stealing clothes for friends in her teens because she was a naturally fast runner.
The thefts usually involved her putting the garments on and making a dash for it.
Her antics would eventually catch up with her though, resulting in the young O’Connor being sent to An Grianán, a reformatory she describes as a "grey place where loads of nuns live".
She was schooled there alongside girls who believed they were sent there by families who “don’t want them.”
O’Connor found a new way to rebel though, escaping the reformatory several times to go busking in Dublin with her guitar.
She entered multiple talent shows, where she would earn plaudits for her performances of songs like Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.
Then came the visit of Finbar Furey, who took to the stage at the reformatory’s concert hall, performing a string of songs that includes The Lonesome Boatman – one that particularly resonated with the young O’Connor.
She writes: "I waited behind when the audience left and the band was packing up. Walked up to Finbar and told him he’d made me want to be a musician.
"I’m friends with him now (at 53 years of age) and he doesn’t remember meeting me. But I will always remember meeting him."
An avid fan of Furey, she says that even to this day, just the sight of his name on a dressing room door is another to bring her to tears because of how powerful and personal his music remains to her.
O’Connor also recalls the moment one of the girls she was at school with eventually became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
She also remembers the “shock” of seeing the baby taken away by the nuns leaving the new mother utterly bereft.
O’Connor also addressed the rumours about a series of graves marked "Magdalene" and her confusion at why they said the same name.
She said: "Someone told me that in Ireland, you can’t keep your baby if you are under 18 and not married."
Rememberings is out on June 1.