Zombie: A Story of Hurt


Mylee Mayne, Reporter

By: Mylee Mayne

Many know the Cranberries from their hit-single, Zombie. However, most do not know the heartbreaking story behind the song. 

The Cranberries were formed in Limerick, Ireland, featuring singer Dolores O’ Riordan. They are known for their melodic hard rock music. When their song Zombie came out, many people were touched by the beautiful song. “Zombie” was in protest of a bombing in Northern Ireland. During this time Ireland was in The Troubles, an ethno-nationalist conflict. A bomb was planted in a trashcan by a busy shop in downtown Ireland.

The destruction was massive, with 56 severely injured and 2 dead. Both 12-year-old Jim Parry and 3-year-old Johnathan Ball died. Ball died on impact, but Parry was hospitalized for 5 days before dying in his father’s arms. The boys had simply gone downtown to buy Mother’s Day cards. 

Dolores O’Riordan saw two innocent lives being taken by a conflict between powers. This hurt her, enraged her, and inspired her to spread a message of disbelief at the hatred going on. The song is heavily distorted to add that anger to the song. At the start of the song we already know that children died as a result of the violence,” Another head hangs lowly child is slowly taken, and the violence caused such silence, who are we mistaken?”. In the next few lines, O’Riordan says, “But you see, it’s not me, it’s not my family”, conveying that even though they are Irish, they do not support the murder of these little boys.

Then the song shifts into explaining how the boys died, “In your head, in your head, they are fighting, with their tanks and their bombs and their bombs and their guns,  in your head, in your head, they are crying”. The middle is the most iconic, with the climax of the story where O’ Riordan calls those who are affected by the violence, “Zombie[s]”, showing how large of an impact the continued conflict has on those around it.

After we have our falling action, where O’ Riordan talks about the aftermath of the deaths, “Another mother’s breaking heart is taking over,  when the violence causes silence, we must be mistaken”. This line contains the most rage and disgust against this nationalist battle. O’ Riordan is speaking out against the damage that has happened to Ireland, and how it has affected the people of the nation. As the song ends it repeats the chorus, as most songs do, but this time it’s different. The chorus starts normally then gets super distorted and angry sounding before becoming all bass, then ending with a beat of the drum. 

Why this song? “Zombie” by The Cranberries is one of the most meaningful songs both in the context of The Troubles and other ethnic, and nationalist violence, around the world. This song speaks against the hate that citizens have learned to ignore. It probes at the question “What if it hapened to you?”. O’ Riordan took a tragic event and made it into a beautiful speech of outrage, impacting countless people with her message against violence.