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The tragic true story behind The Cranberries number one song 'Zombie'.

On Tuesday morning, news broke that Dolores O’Riordan, 46, lead singer of Irish rock-band The Cranberries, had died after travelling to London for a recording session.

During the mid 90s, The Cranberries released a string of hits including Dreams and Linger, making them the second best selling Irish band after U2.

It was, however, their song Zombie released in 1994, that would become their only number one worldwide hit.

Written by O’Riordan, the song was based on a tragic true story that took place in England the year before.

On March 20, 1993, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted two bombs inside two separate bins- about 90 metres apart – in Warrington cite centre, Cheshire. The IRA wanted British troops to withdraw from Northern Ireland, and this was one in a series of attacks.

At 12:25pm, when the area was crowded with shoppers, the bombs exploded within one minute of each other.

The bins were made from cast-iron, meaning shrapnel flew towards passers-by.

Dozens were injured as a result of the attack, and two children were killed.

Dolores O'Riordan in 2016. Image: Getty.
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The first was three-year-old Johnathan Ball who was being minded by a babysitter as they looked for a Mother's Day card. Ball died at the scene.

The second casualty was 12-year-old Tim Parry. After sustaining serious injuries, he was rushed to hospital, but five days later his life support machine was switched off.

With the death of two children came enormous international media coverage, and a peace rally was soon held in Dublin, desperately seeking an end to IRA violence.

The lyrics of Zombie read:

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence, caused such silence
Who are we mistaken?
But you see, it's not me
It's not my family
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
In your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What's in your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie, oh
Johnathan Ball. Image via ABC News.
 The band had been on tour when they heard the news of the boys' death, and O'Riordan told Team Rock 24 years later, "I remember being on tour and being in the UK at the time when the child died, and just being really sad about it all. These bombs are going off in random places. It could have been anyone, you know?"

She wrote the song in her apartment, alone, between tour dates.

The importance of the five-minute anthem extends far beyond its status as a number one hit. It's a testament to O'Riordan's enormous legacy as an artist, who managed to encapsulate at a specific historical moment the thought that haunted so many, all around the world.

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