Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has paid tribute to Sinead O'Connor following her death at the age of 56.

The Irish singer and activist was chosen to sing the iconic theme song 'The Skye Boat Song' as the show entered its penultimate season, in one of her last performances.

Starz bosses believed she 'embodied the spirit' of Outlander.

The author, who was in Glasgow last week for an international conference dedicated to her books at the University of Glasgow, told The Herald the world had lost "a unique voice".

She added: "We're grateful for the gift of one of her last (if brief) performances in the theme to this season's Outlander."

Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire Fraser on the hit show, also paid tribute to the singer with a poignant message on social media.

Sharing a photo of Sinead on Instagram, she wrote: "I hope you are at peace … and with your baby boy. Thank you for sharing your soul with us and soothing us with your incredible voice beautiful Sinéad."

The official Outlander Instagram page re-shared Caitriona's tribute, adding: "Thank you for lending us your iconic voice, Sinead O'Connor."

Sinead's family announced the news "with great sadness", saying "her family and friends are devastated". The cause of death has not been made public.

She was best known for her single Nothing Compares 2 U, released in 1990, which reached number one and brought her worldwide fame.

Taoiseach (Irish PM) Leo Varadkar said her music "was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched".

Her musical talent aside, over the years she became well-known for being outspoken about her social and political views, including making headlines in 1992 when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on US TV show Saturday Night Live.

Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy said Sinead O'Connor was as "kind, powerful, passionate, determined and decent as ever" days ago.

Tubridy wrote on Instagram: "Like everyone, I'm devastated by the awful news about Sinead.

"We spoke days ago and she was as kind, powerful, passionate, determined and decent as ever."

The post was accompanied by a picture of him with O'Connor and his mother, and he added: "This photo is from the night I went with my mum to see her in Vicar St. Rest in peace Sinead, you were ahead of your time and deserve whatever peace comes your way."