Donal Dineen’s Sunken Treasure: Sister Irene O’Connor – ‘Fire of God’s Love’

It’s a sad fact of media operations that the music we hear on the radio in particular is so narrowly focused on classic hits or the vacuous pop of the day. We are so bombarded with music from certain directions which all sounds pretty much the same that it is more surprising than ever when something truly unique turns up and reminds us that making music is an urge that pays no attention to barriers of any sort. Blessings within a blessing. All that repetition just dulls the senses and diminishes our taste for better things. In the case of Sister Irene O Connor’s haunting songs of faith and devotion it’s bonus time. So when something truly original and brilliant turns up it feels like a blessing.

Sunken Treasures on Spotify

The eerie and downright strange sound of the recordings add mystery and magic to the mix. Reunited
They went their separate ways without any plans to meet in the future but fate intervened and the two were reunited at Sydney’s Point Piper convent in 1976. Music as uncommonly charming as this more often than not tends to have an unusual backstory where the pendulum swung just the right way at exactly the right time. I love both what they did and the way they went about it. In Sister Irene’s case, it was a chance meeting with Sister Marimil Lobregat in South East Asia in the 1960s. The calmness it exudes is a balm for weary travellers and troubled souls. Sister Irene had been recording her songs in Singapore throughout the previous decade with limited means and no great degree of success. God was not their only love. Together they built a makeshift studio and on a series of Sunday afternoons cocooned themselves from the world at large and went about their extraordinary journeys into sound. The subject matter is secondary to the soulful sound of her uplifting voice. The two were on their way to different missions and only spent a short time together but it was enough to establish a strong bond over a shared devotion to music. In Sister Marimil she found the perfect partner to make real the musical dreams and aspirations that were still very much alive in her. She had upskilled in the intervening decade and was as fond of messing around with the controls of the echo chamber as perusing her prayer book. Sister Marimil was working as a recording technician in Homebush at the Catholic Audio Visual Centre.