Daniel O Donnell

Image of Daniel O Donnell

Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell born December 12th, 1961 is an Irish singer, television presenter and philanthropist. After rising to public attention in 1983 he has since become a household name in Ireland and the UK and has also had considerable success in the US and Australia. Known for his close relationship with his fanbase, and his charismatic and engaging stage presence, O'Donnell's music has been described as a mix of country and Irish folk, and he has sold over ten million records to date. O'Donnell is recognised for his tenor voice. Widely considered as a cultural Irish icon,  he is a prominent ambassador for his home county of Donegal. 

Interview with Daniel O'Donnell

"I know what its like to find myself far from home at times but in my case i’m fortunate enough that I get to return on a regular basis.  I know that sometimes people get fed up with me going on about how great Donegal is but I can’t say anything else. I feel very lucky to have been born and brought up in Kincasslagh. When I was a child I thought it was the centre of the universe. Every one was the same. There was no big or small. Every door was open to step through,  be it day or night.  Because I worked in the Cope in the village I got to know everyone both old & young. I was only at national school at the time but I feel it gave me great confidence & in a way helped me to relate to & interact with people - something that has been of great benefit to me throughout my career.

My first singing was done in the choir & my first time on stage was in St Mary’s parochial hall at one of the concerts that were held during Lent. Little did I think back then that my music would take me all over the world.

Mind you,  going overseas was nothing new to me because my mother came from Owey Island & all my summers were spent there with my Grandmother, Uncle James, his wife Peggy & their family. My memories of life on Owey are priceless. Every night we would go to some house where all the young people would gather & at some point ghost stories would be told leaving you scared out of your wits. I can remember sunny summer evenings sitting on the steps of the school taking part in sing songs. I can still hear the sound of my uncle & the other men as they walked along the gravel roads before dawn to check their lobster pots. They worked very hard but they were so happy. There are so many lovely memories of growing up at home I could go on forever.

For the past few years my wife Majella & I have lived in Meenbanad. When I sit at the window in the sunroom (far from sunrooms I was reared) I can see Keadue bar nestle between Cruit Island & Keadue and in the distance I can see Aranmore & Owey Island rising majestically out of the Atlantic. When I’m on tour I often sit in my dressing room before a show & close my eyes and picture this view. It gives me a warm feeling.

As I said I have travelled to many beautiful parts of the world & met many wonderful people but there is nothing that gives me more joy than playing a game of whist in St Mary’s hall on a Tuesday night or playing golf on Cruit Island.

I have had many awards bestowed upon me but the most precious to me was being chosen as Donegal person of the year back in 1989.

If you are reading this in some far off place & you haven’t been home in a while, maybe its time to make a trip. If you are not from Donegal let me extend an invitation to you to come & see our beautiful county & feel the warmth of its people. I’m sure I will have many journeys to make in the days & years to come but as the song says “whatever fortune comes my way whatever may befall, I know I’ll make my final destination Donegal”

This article was written in 2010 for issue 8 of the Donegal Community in Touch Ezine.