Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell (born 12 December 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 Britain; he has also had considerable success in the US and Australia. In 2012, he became the first artist to have a different album in the British charts every year for 25 consecutive years.
O'Donnell in concert
|Birth name||Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell|
|Also known as||"Wee Daniel"|
|Born||12 December 1961|
Kincasslagh, County Donegal, Ireland
|Genres||Country, easy listening, country and western, Irish folk|
|Associated acts||Majella O'Donnell, Margo, Mary Duff|
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. He is widely considered a "cultural icon" in Ireland, and is often parodied in the media. Affectionately known as "Wee Daniel", O'Donnell is a prominent ambassador for his home county of Donegal.
O'Donnell was born in and brought up in the village of Kincasslagh, in The Rosses district in the west of County Donegal, Ireland. He grew up as the youngest of a Roman Catholic family, with his parents, Julia (née McGonagle born 1919; died 18 May 2014) and Francis O'Donnell, and 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 six years old.
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 fameEdit
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.
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.
O’Donnell had to cancel a series of concerts in Northern Ireland because of death threats from loyalists paramilitary in 1994. The threat was made in a phone call to Daniel O’Donnell’s Viking House Hotel in Kincasslagh, County Donegal. The caller said O’Donnell would be killed if he went ahead with four sell out concerts to be held in the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, County Down.
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 United States. He has charted 18 albums in the Top 20 of the U.S. Billboard's World Music Album Chart and also has had several entries in the Independent Albums Chart too.  He was afforded an RTÉ Christmas Day special, Daniel at 50, in 2011 to mark his 50th birthday.
In 2015, O'Donnell became the first artist to have charted at least one new album in the UK charts for 28 consecutive years (1988–2015), when his latest album The Hank Williams Songbook entered the UK Artist Albums Chart at number 5.
O'Donnell was married, aged 40, on 4 November 2002, to 41-year-old divorcée Majella McLennan from Thurles, whom he met on holiday in Tenerife three years previously. McLennan received an annulment of her previous marriage, by which she had two children (Siobhan and Michael). The couple live in Meenbanad, County Donegal, and spend time at their second home in Tenerife. Daniel is proficient in Irish and presented a show in that language for the broadcaster TG4.
O'Donnell also has two step-grandchildren - a step-granddaughter, Olivia, and a step-grandson, Archie, who are his wife's grandchildren.
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 young people in Ireland for a period.
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. 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". DJ Chris Moyles has parodied O'Donnell on numerous occasions.
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. He has expressed a wish to appear in Coronation Street.
He appeared on Martin and Paul's Surf 'n' Turf.
Awards and honoursEdit
- 1988 – RTÉ Guide Favourite Country Artist of the Year
- 1989 – RTÉ Guide Favourite Country Artist of the Year
- 1989 – Donegal Person of the Year
- 1989 – IRMA Entertainer of the Year
- 1990 – RTÉ Guide Favourite Country Artist of the Year
- 1991 – RTÉ Guide Favourite Country Artist of the Year
- 1991 – British Country Music Awards International Artist of the Year
- 1991 – CMRU Most Popular British Vocalist
- 1991 – IRMA Entertainer of the Year
- 1992 – IRMA Entertainer of the Year
- 1992 – RTÉ Guide Favourite Country Artist of the Year
- 1992 – British Country Music Awards International Artist of the Year
- 1992 – CMRU Most Popular British Vocalist
- 1995 – British Country Music Awards International Artist of the Year
- 1997 – British Country Music Awards Ambassador Award for Outstanding Services to Country Music
- 2000 – This Is Your Life Tribute
- 2002 – Awarded an Honorary MBE for services to the music industry and charity
- 2004 – Lifetime Achievement Award from The Irish Post
- 2011 – Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sunday World
|Year||Album||Peak chart position||Certifications|
|1984||The Boy From Donegal
|1988||From The Heart
|1989||Thoughts of Home
|1990||The Last Waltz
|1991||The Very Best of Daniel O'Donnell
|1992||Follow Your Dream
|1993||A Date With Daniel Live
|1994||Especially For You
|1994||Christmas With Daniel
|1995||The Classic Collection
|1996||The Irish Collection
|1996||Songs of Inspiration
|2000||Faith and Inspiration
|2001||Live, Laugh, Love
|2003||Daniel In Blue Jeans
|2003||At The End of The Day
|2004||The Jukebox Years
|2004||Welcome to My World
|2006||From Daniel With Love
|2006||Until The Next Time
|2009||Peace in the Valley
|2010||O' Holy Night
|2011||Moon Over Ireland
|2011||The Ultimate Collection
|2012||Songs from the Movies and More
|2013||A Picture of You
|2014||Stand Beside Me - Live in Concert
|2015||The Hank Williams Songbook
|2016||The Best of Music and Memories
|2016||I Have a Dream
|2017||Back Home Again
|2018||Walkin' In The Moonlight
|2019||The Gold Collection
|2019||Halfway to Paradise
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Donegal's greatest ambassador Daniel O'Donnell made a special trip home for the event and played a number of songs for the fans.
- "Corporate Website | – About Tourism Ireland Marketing Programmes". Tourism Ireland. 4 April 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
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- 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.
- 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.
- "Daniel O'Donnell music downloads, Daniel O'Donnell songs". eMusic.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
- "O'Donnell made honorary MBE". BBC News. 31 December 2001.
- "RTÉ choose Daniel for Christmas Day evening special". Donegal Daily. 24 December 2011.
- "Daniel O'Donnel leads fans through his new visitors' centre – Republic of Ireland, Local & National". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 8 May 2012. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- Steve Wright in the Afternoon, BBC Radio 2, 20 August 2015
- "Daniel hopes his sharp tongue won't be his undoing on Strictly Come Dancing". evoke.ie. 23 August 2015.
- "Daniel and Majella's B&B Road Trip travels to RTÉ". RTÉ. 12 May 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13.
- "PLAYING MY SONG; Majella Makes Her Album Move". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
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- "First family photo of Majella and Daniel O'Donnell with grandchild Olivia". Irish Independent. 7 August 2015. Archived from the original on 12 May 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
- The Romanian Challenge Appeal, a charity that helps orphaned Romanian children re-establish themselves within society.
- "Daniel is 'shite', Geldof has no talent, says Louis Walsh – National News". Independent.ie. 27 August 2006. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "Strictly Come Dancing contestant Daniel O'Donnell: We profile the Donegal singer". Belfast Telegraph DIGITAL. 26 September 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- "Chris Moyles – Daniel O'Donnell Lyrics". Lyricsmania.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
- "Daniel O'Donnell wants Corrie role". RTÉ. 2 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010.
- Byrne, John (25 August 2012). "Daniel was catch of the day". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. 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.
- "Daniel O'Donnell | full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 October 2019.