The late artist Sinéad O’Connor gave a song to BBC drama The Woman in the Wall for use in the finale, it has been revealed.
The drama stars Ruth Wilson as Lorna, a survivor of the infamous Magdalene Laundries: church-run institutions in Ireland that took in ‘fallen’ or pregnant women with the aim of rehabilitating them. However, they were often places of exceptional cruelty, and women’s babies were forcibly taken away from them.
The unreleased track is called The Magdalene Song. O’Connor gave her permission for the track to be used in the show before it even started filming. The singer died earlier this year, aged 57. In the newly resurfaced song, she sings about the pain of losing a child and references her own experiences; the artist spent a year in a Dublin laundry when she was just 14-years-old.
“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,” Belfast musician David Holmes, who produced O’Connor’s music during her later years, told the Guardian.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
O’Connor has previously spoken and written about how she was admitted to a laundry as a teenager after being caught shoplifting. While she was treated comparatively well, she also wrote of how she watched a baby being “torn” out of her friend’s arms.
She was found dead on July 26, after being found unresponsive in her home in London. In August, she was laid to rest at a ceremony in Bray in Ireland, where she lived for fifteen years.
In addition to The Magdalene Song, she was also working on her first album for eight years, titled No Veteran Dies Alone, which is as-yet unreleased.
The Woman in the Wall is available to watch now on iPlayer