Daniel O'Donnell

Last updated

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 59)
Kincasslagh, County Donegal, Ireland
Genres Country, easy listening, country and western, Irish folk, Rock and Roll, Christian Music
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter,
Instruments Vocals
Years active1980–present
Associated acts Majella O'Donnell, Margo, Mary Duff
Website www.danielodonnell.org

Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell, MBE (born 12 December 1961) [2] is an Irish singer, butter addict and 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 Australia. [4] In 2012, he became the first artist to have a different album in the British charts every year for 25 consecutive years. [5]


Known for his close relationship with his fanbase, and his charismatic [6] and engaging stage presence, [6] 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. [7] [8] He is widely considered a "cultural icon" in Ireland, and is often parodied in the media. [9] Affectionately known as "Wee Daniel", [1] [10] O'Donnell is a prominent ambassador for his home county of Donegal. [11] [12] [13] [14]

Early life

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) [15] 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 fame

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. [16]


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 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. [17] He was afforded an RTÉ Christmas Day special, Daniel at 50, in 2011 to mark his 50th birthday. [18]

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.

A Daniel O'Donnell Visitors' Centre was opened in Dungloe in May, 2012, which displays all his gold discs, awards and wedding suit. [19]

In Autumn 2015, he appeared on Strictly Come Dancing . [20] [21] He was eliminated third; in week 4 of the series.

In October 2015, Daniel and his wife Majella starred in the first series of their TV programme Daniel and Majella's B&B Road Trip. That series aired on UTV but moved to RTÉ in 2016. [22]

Personal life

Fans meeting O'Donnell at his annual 'tea party', at his mother's residence in Kincasslagh, County Donegal Kincasslagh Peninsula - Julia O'Donnell's home - geograph.org.uk - 1338600.jpg
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, [23] whom he met on holiday in Tenerife three years previously. McLennan received an annulment of her previous marriage, [24] 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. [25] Daniel is proficient in Irish and presented a show in that language for the broadcaster TG4. [26]

O'Donnell's home in Meenbanad, County Donegal Daniel O'Donnell's home in Meenbannad area - geograph.org.uk - 1162102.jpg
O'Donnell's home in Meenbanad, County Donegal

O'Donnell also has two step-grandchildren - a step-granddaughter, Olivia, and a step-grandson, Archie, who are his wife's grandchildren. [27]


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. [28]


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. [29] 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". [30] DJ Chris Moyles has parodied O'Donnell on numerous occasions. [31]

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 . [32]

He appeared on Martin and Paul's Surf 'n' Turf. [33]


Studio albums

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions Certifications
The Boy from Donegal
  • Released: 1984
  • Label: Prism Leisure Corp. Plc (HLP4)
Two Sides of Daniel O'Donnell
  • Released: 1985
  • Label: Ritz Records (RITZLP0031)
I Need You
  • Released: 1986
  • Label: Ritz Records (RITZLP0038)
Don't Forget to Remember
  • Released: 1987
  • Label: Ritz Records (RITZLP0043)
From the Heart
  • Released: October 1988
  • Label: Telstar (STAR2327)
Thoughts of Home
  • Released: October 1989
  • Label: Telstar (STAR2372)
The Last Waltz
  • Released: November 1990
  • Label: Ritz (RITZCD0058)
Follow Your Dream
  • Released: November 1992
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD701)
Especially for You
  • Released: October 1994
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD703)
Christmas with Daniel
  • Released: November 1994
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD704)
(with Mary Duff)
  • Released: March 1996
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD707)
The Daniel O'Donnell Irish Collection
  • Released: July 1996
  • Label: Ritz (RITZCD0080)
Songs of Inspiration
  • Released: October 1996
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD709)
I Believe
  • Released: October 1997
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBLC710)
Love Songs
  • Released: October 1998
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBLC715)
Faith and Inspiration
  • Released: October 2000
  • Label: Ritz (RZBCD717)
Live, Laugh, Love
  • Released: November 2001
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2002)
Yesterday's Memories
  • Released: October 2002
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2020)
Daniel in Blue Jeans
  • Released: March 2003
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV001)
At the End of the Day
  • Released: October 2003
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2040)
The Jukebox Years - 20 More Blue Jeans Classics
  • Released: March 2004
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV005)
Welcome to My World
  • Released: October 2004
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2050)
Teenage Dreams
  • Released: September 2005
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2060)
Until the Next Time
  • Released: October 2006
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2080)
Together Again
(with Mary Duff)
  • Released: November 2007
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2090)
Country Boy
  • Released: October 2008
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV035)
Peace in the Valley
  • Released: October 2009
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV036)
O' Holy Night
  • Released: November 2010
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV040)
Moon Over Ireland
  • Released: March 2011
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV042)
Songs from the Movies and More
  • Released: October 2012
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV048)
A Picture of You
  • Released: November 2013
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV052)
The Hank Williams Songbook
  • Released: October 2015
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV061)
I Have a Dream: Classic Songs from the Seventies
  • Released: November 2016
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV063)
Christmas with Daniel
  • Released: November 2017
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV067)
Walkin' in the Moonlight
  • Released: November 2018
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV072)
Halfway to Paradise
  • Released: October 2019
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV076)
  • Released: 16 October 2020
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV077)
  • Released: 15 October 2021
  • Label: DMG TV

Live albums

List of live albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions Certifications
A Date with Daniel Live
  • Released: October 1993
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD702)
Stand Beside Me – Live in Concert
  • Released: November 2014
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV059)
Back Home Again
  • Released: March 2017
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV064)

Charting compilation albums

List of charting compilation albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions Certifications
  • Released: April 1990
  • Label: Ritz (RITZCD0052)
The Very Best of Daniel O'Donnell
  • Released: November 1991
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBLD700)
The Classic Collection
  • Released: November 1995
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD705)
Greatest Hits
  • Released: September 1999
  • Label: Ritz (RZBCD716)
The Very Best of Daniel O'Donnell
  • Released: 2002
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBLC700)
  • Released: March 2004
  • Label: CRIMSON (CRIMBX44)
The Rock 'n' Roll Collection
  • Released: March 2005
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV015)
From Daniel with Love
  • Released: January 2006
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV027)
Early Memories
  • Released: 2006
  • Label: CRIMSON (MCDLX033)
The Essential Daniel O'Donnell
  • Released: March 2010
  • Label: Big Joke/ Sony
The Ultimate Collection
  • Released: October 2011
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV045)
The Best of Music and Memories
  • Released: February 2016
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV062)
The Gold Collection
  • Released: March 2019
  • Label: Crimson (CRIMCD622)

Extended Plays

List of EPs, with selected chart positions
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions
The Love Songs
  • Released: May 1997
  • Label: Ritz (RITZCD306)


List of charting singles, with selected chart positions
TitleYearPeak chart positionsAlbum
"I Just Want to Dance with You"199220Follow Your Dream
"The Three Bells"71
"The Love in Your Eyes"199347Follow Your Dream
"What Ever Happened to Old Fashioned Love"21Especially for You
"Singing the Blues"199423
"The Gift"46 Christmas With Daniel
"Secret Love"
(with Mary Duff)
(with Mary Duff)
"Footsteps"25The Classic Collection
"Give a Little Love"1998827Love Songs
"The Magic Is There"16
"The Way Dreams Are"199918
"Uno Mas"25Greatest Hits
"A Christmas Kiss"20
"Light a Candle"200023Faith & Inspiration
"Morning Has Broken"32
"You Raise Me Up"200322At the End of the Day
"Crush On You"20065721Until the Next Time

Awards and honours

See also

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