Daniel O'Donnell

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Daniel O'Donnell
O'Donnell in concert
Background information
Birth nameDaniel Francis Noel O'Donnell
Also known as"Wee Daniel"[1]
Born(1961-12-12) 12 December 1961 (age 53)
Kincasslagh, County Donegal, Ireland
GenresCountry, easy listening
Years active1980–present
Associated actsMajella O'Donnell, Margo, Mary Duff
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For other people named Daniel O'Donnell, see Daniel O'Donnell (disambiguation).
Daniel O'Donnell
O'Donnell in concert
Background information
Birth nameDaniel Francis Noel O'Donnell
Also known as"Wee Daniel"[1]
Born(1961-12-12) 12 December 1961 (age 53)
Kincasslagh, County Donegal, Ireland
GenresCountry, easy listening
Years active1980–present
Associated actsMajella O'Donnell, Margo, Mary Duff

Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell (born 12 December 1961[2]) is an Irish singer, television presenter and philanthropist.[3] After rising to public attention in 1983 he has since become a household name in Ireland and Britain; he has also had considerable success in the US[4] and Australia.[5] In 2012, he became the first artist to have a different album in the British charts every year for 25 consecutive years.[6]

Known for his close relationship with his fanbase, and his charismatic[7] and engaging stage presence,[7] 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.[8][9] He is widely considered a "cultural icon" in Ireland, and is often parodied in the media.[10][10] Affectionately known as "Wee Daniel",[1][11] O'Donnell is a prominent ambassador for his home county of Donegal.[12][13][14][15]



O'Donnell was born in Dungloe and brought up in the village of Kincasslagh, in the Rosses region of County Donegal. He grew up as the youngest of a Roman Catholic family, with his parents Julia (née McGonagle born 1919; died 18 May 2014)[16] and Francis O'Donnell and his siblings: John (the eldest), Margaret (Margo), Kathleen, and James. He has described his upbringing as mostly happy, with the exception of the death of his father after a heart attack when O'Donnell was just six years old. O'Donnell is also very close to his second cousins, Emily McCormack and Katie Cassin.

During his school years, O'Donnell considered pursuing a career in banking. Despite this, a career in music was also always a possibility. As a youngster O'Donnell performed in the local religious choir. In 1980, he went to Galway to pursue Business Studies, however, he never settled down and by Christmas he was in his sister Margo's band. Margo had already forged a successful career in Ireland.

Rise to fame[edit]

Not getting enough opportunities to perform solos with the band, in 1983 O'Donnell decided to record his own record. On 9 February 1983 he recorded his first single, Johnny McCauley's "My Donegal Shore", with £1,200 of his own money, selling all the copies himself. Later that year, he formed his own musical group, Country Fever. After the group disbanded, he formed The Grassroots. In 1985, the manager of the Ritz label, Mick Clerkin, saw him perform, and introduced him to Sean Reilly, who remains as his manager to this day.

Under the management of Reilly, O'Donnell started to sell concerts out in England on a regular basis. According to O'Donnell, by January, 1992, he had hit rock bottom with exhaustion. After a three month recovery break, he returned to the stage, this time at the Point Theatre, Dublin.[17]

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O'Donnell's popular version of the song "Mary From Dungloe".

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By the mid-1990s, O'Donnell had become a household name across Ireland and Great Britain. He appeared on popular television shows in both countries, and won various awards. Among the accolades, O'Donnell was named Donegal Person of the Year in 1989, which he still rates as the best award. He was given the Irish Entertainer of the Year award in 1989, 1992 and 1996. O'Donnell's first chart hit single in the UK was in 1992 with "I Just Want to Dance With You" (later covered by George Strait). This also led to his first ever appearance on Top of the Pops.

During his lengthy career, O'Donnell has made friends with his childhood idols, including Cliff Richard and Loretta Lynn. He also forged a close professional relationship with the Irish songstress Mary Duff, who regularly tours with O'Donnell.


In 2002, he was awarded an Honorary (because of his Irish citizenship) MBE for his services to the music industry. He has had twenty UK Top 40 albums as well as fifteen Top 40 singles and has sold 10 million records to date. O'Donnell garnered considerable success in North America, when he starred in seven concert specials on public television stations (PBS) in the US. He has charted 18 albums in the Top 20 of the United States Billboard's World Music Album Chart and also has had several entries in the Independent Albums Chart too. [18] In 2011, O'Donnell became the first artist to have an album in the UK charts for 24 consecutive weeks.[19] He was afforded an RTÉ Christmas Day special, Daniel at 50, in 2011 to mark his 50th birthday.[20]

A Daniel O'Donnell Visitors' Centre was opened in Dungloe in May, 2012, which displays all his gold discs, awards and wedding suit.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Fans meeting O'Donnell at his annual 'tea party', at his mother's residence in Kincasslagh, County Donegal

O'Donnell was married, aged 40, on 4 November 2002, to 41-year-old divorcée Majella McLennan from Thurles,[22] whom he met on holiday in Tenerife three years previously. McLennan's previous marriage,[23] by which she has two children, had been annulled by the Catholic Church. The couple live in Meenbanad, County Donegal, and spend time at their second home in Tenerife.[24] Daniel is proficient in Irish Gaelic and even presented a show for the Irish broadcaster TG4 wholly in Irish Gaelic.[25]

O'Donnell's home in Meenbanad, County Donegal


O'Donnell has been involved in many charitable causes for many years, most notably in Romania. He has championed the Romanian Challenge Appeal, a charity that helps orphaned Romanian children re-establish themselves within society. He was involved in urging Irish families to home these kids in Ireland for a period.[26]


O'Donnell is arguably better known for his gentle, soft-spoken personality and clean cut image, than for his music. Over the years he has attracted vast media attention and there have been many cultural references to the performer. O'Donnell is frequently satirised in Irish and British comedy because of a common supposition that his audience consists mainly of older women.[27] He was parodied as celebrity singer "Eoin McLove" in the Father Ted episode "Night of the Nearly Dead", as well as an episode of BBC sketch-show Chewin' the Fat, as an Irish singer named "Donald O'Daniel". The comedy show Bull Island and the radio sketch segment "Gift Grub" portrayed him in sketches frequently singing about his "mammy".[28] BBC Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles has parodied O'Donnell on numerous occasions.[29]

O'Donnell is known for his close relationship with his fans and has a meet-and-greet session after almost every concert. He used to host a massive tea party for his fans outside his Donegal home every year.[1] He has expressed a wish to appear in Coronation Street.[30]

He appeared on Martin and Paul's Surf 'n' Turf.[31]

Awards and honours[edit]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Donegal County.com & Dún na nGall.com - Daniel O'Donnell". Dun-na-ngall.com. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  2. ^ "About Daniel". Daniel O'donnell Official Website. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  3. ^ "O'Donnell made honorary MBE". BBC News. 31 December 2001. 
  4. ^ "Daniel O Donnell Tickets & 2011 Concert Tour Dates". Getmein.com. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  5. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell lights the way for Aussie fans". Belfast Telegraph. 2010-09-06. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  6. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell secures unique UK charts record". Highland Radio. 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  7. ^ a b "Archives". Archives. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  8. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell Tickets Available". Worldticketshop.com. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  9. ^ "Daniel O’Donnell | Gratis". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  10. ^ a b "The Secret World of the Irish Male - New Island". Newisland.ie. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  11. ^ GrabOne daily deals (31 December 2006). "Bland wee Daniel is No 1 at winding up top celebrities - National News". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  12. ^ "Jim McGuinness and Daniel O'Donnell singalong". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). 25 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012. Donegal's greatest ambassador Daniel O'Donnell made a special trip home for the event and played a number of songs for the fans. 
  13. ^ "Corporate Website | - About Tourism Ireland Marketing Programmes". Tourism Ireland. 2011-04-04. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  14. ^ "Daniel Helping To Boost Donegal Tourism". Donegal Daily. 2011-03-29. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  15. ^ Keys, Colm (28 August 2012). "Donegal stand united in rise from the ashes: McGuinness evolution based around brains as well as brawn". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 28 August 2012. If the sea cliffs of Bunglass, just a few solid belts of an O'Neills size five away from where McHugh grew up in Kilcar, were transformed into the county's Mount Rushmore, Daniel's image would surely take pride of place. 
  16. ^ O'Donnell stated in a TV3 interview, Up Close and Personal with Daniel O'Donnell, screened on Friday 13 March 2009, that his mother would be 90 later that year.
  17. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell music downloads, Daniel O'Donnell songs". eMusic.com. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  18. ^ "O'Donnell made honorary MBE". BBC News. 31 December 2001. 
  19. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell breaks UK chart record for album sales". BBC News. 15 March 2011. 
  20. ^ "RTÉ choose Daniel for Christmas Day evening special". Donegal Daily. 24 December 2011. 
  21. ^ "Daniel O’Donnel leads fans through his new visitors’ centre - Republic of Ireland, Local & National". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  22. ^ "Playing My Song; Majella makes her album move.". Highbeam.com. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  23. ^ "Unofficial Daniel O'Donnell website". Danielodonnell.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  24. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell ties the knot". BBC News. 4 November 2002. 
  25. ^ November 20, 2009 at 21:10 (2009-10-31). "Donegal’s Daniel O’Donnell for TG4 series". IrishDigest.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  26. ^ The Romanian Challenge Appeal, a charity that helps orphaned Romanian children re-establish themselves within society.
  27. ^ GrabOne daily deals (27 August 2006). "Daniel is 'shite', Geldof has no talent, says Louis Walsh - National News". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  28. ^ [1][dead link]
  29. ^ "Chris Moyles - Daniel O'donnell Lyrics". Lyricsmania.com. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  30. ^ RTÉ | "Daniel O'Donnell wants Corrie role". | 2 December 2010.
  31. ^ Byrne, John (25 August 2012). "Daniel was catch of the day". Evening Herald (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 25 August 2012. Anyway, Paul's prey was eventually intercepted, the meat was cooked, and Daniel, like a benign cult leader, led the assembled acolytes in a chorus of The Homes of Donegal. 
  32. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 404. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  33. ^ "Noel Gallagher tops UK album chart". BBC News. 23 October 2011. 
  34. ^ "Why it's time for the begrudgers to leave Daniel O'Donnell alone - Gail Walker, Columnists". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 2012-11-14. Retrieved 2012-12-20. 

External links[edit]