Cork loses soprano superstar Cara O'Sullivan

Cork loses soprano superstar Cara O'Sullivan

Cara O’Sullivan. Picture Dan Linehan

Cork’s Soprano “superstar” Cara O’Sullivan has passed away at the age of 59.

The singer who was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in 2018, died at Marymount Hospice on Tuesday.

Friend of Cara’s, fellow soprano Mary Hegarty said she was “heartbroken” for her family including Cara’s daughter Christine.

“She was a one-off in every way. We sang together in the Cork school of music and throughout our career."

Speaking about Cara’s illness, Ms Hegarty said it was heartbreaking to watch.

“Her illness took the life out of her, it was heartbreaking to see.” 

Ms Hegarty reaffirmed her affection for Cara saying “she was a great person, she will be sadly missed.” 

RTÉ presenter Evelyn Grant, who knew Cara well, said she was an amazing talent and personality, who raised a lot of money for Marymount, where she then spent her final days “She was a great character, an enormous talent and true friend.” 

Former Lord Mayor, Independent Councillor Mick Finn said: “Cara was a superstar of the stage, renowned locally, nationally and internationally for her majestic and beautiful soprano voice.

“Apart from her masterful and charismatic performances on opera house stages from Cork to Sydney, she was also a great supporter of local groups and indeed was a big supporter of Munster Rugby.

“She lived their motto, ‘Stand up and Fight’, in the last two years of ill health and leaves a musical legacy that few from Cork have ever done.

"She was the first recipient of the Cork Culture Award in 2018 and a number of sell-out concerts since in Cork and Dublin were testament to the special place she had in people’s hearts. She was our Cork Diva…and condolences to her daughter, family and friends in the Arts.” 

Another Independent Councillor, Ken O’Flynn, described Ms O’Sullivan as: “A lady with a voice of vocal splendour.". 

“She possessed the most secure and compelling soprano voice of that Ireland has ever produced. Over the years in my work in the theatre and through my work on Cork City council, I got to know Cara quite well She was a fantastic lady with a wonderful sense of humour and had tremendous time for people.” 

Mr O’Flynn said he has seen Ms O’Sullivan give time and share advice with the next generation of singers.

“I witnessed first-hand how giving she was too young people starting off in the world of Opera she was always quick to give advice and lend a helping hand to anybody who asked. She will be sorely missed in the world of Irish opera.”

Born in Cork in 1962, Ms O’Sullivan was raised on the southside of the city, before attending the Cork School of Music.

Over her 30 year career, she performed at world-renowned stages such as Sydney Opera House, Paris Opera and London’s Royal Albert Hall among others.

In 2019 the internationally renowned soprano Cara O’Sullivan received an inaugural Cork culture award at City Hall presented by Lord Mayor Mick Finn.

In the mid-1990s she had a tumour removed from her leg and also had node surgically removed from her vocal cords in the years after.

Three benefit concerts were held, following her dementia diagnosis, in the Opera house, City Hall and the National Concern Hall as the musical world rallied together for the international star.

She is sadly missed by her daughter Christine, sisters Aoife and Nuala and her brother Jim along with her extended family.

A private family funeral is to take place in accordance with current guidelines, but anyone who would like to leave a message for Cara’s family may do so on

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