Daniel O'Donnell

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Daniel O'Donnell
O'Donnell in concert in 2009
O'Donnell in concert in 2009
Background information
Birth nameDaniel Francis Noel O'Donnell
Also known as"Wee Daniel"[1]
Born (1961-12-12) 12 December 1961 (age 61)
Kincasslagh, County Donegal, Ireland
GenresCountry, easy listening, folk
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Years active1980–present

Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell, MBE (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 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] This record has been extended and as of 2021, O'Donnell has had an album in the Official Albums Chart each year for the last 33 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] Affectionately known as "Wee Daniel",[1][11] O'Donnell is a prominent ambassador for his home county of Donegal.[12][13][14][15]

Early life[edit]

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)[16] 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[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 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]


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 singer 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 loyalist paramilitaries 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.[18][19]


In 2002, he was awarded an Honorary (because of his Irish citizenship) MBE for his services to the music industry.[20] 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. [21] He was afforded an RTÉ Christmas Day special, Daniel at 50, in 2011 to mark his 50th birthday.[22]

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.[23]

In Autumn 2015, he appeared on Strictly Come Dancing.[24][25] 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.[26]

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,[27] whom he met on holiday in Tenerife three years previously. McLennan received an annulment of her previous marriage,[28] 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.[29]

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.[30]

Daniel is proficient in Irish and presented a show in that language for the broadcaster TG4.[31]

O'Donnell rarely speaks about politics but voiced his support for the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland in 2015.[32][33] He has also spoken out about in support of redress for homeowners in Ireland whose houses were built using mica.


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.[34]


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.[35] 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".[36] DJ Chris Moyles has parodied O'Donnell on numerous occasions.[37]

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.[38]

He appeared on Martin and Paul's Surf 'n' Turf.[39]


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak 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)
36 9
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)
36 3
Welcome to My World
  • Released: October 2004
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2050)
87 6
Teenage Dreams
  • Released: September 2005
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2060)
87 10
Until the Next Time
  • Released: October 2006
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2080)
48 36 10
Together Again
(with Mary Duff)
  • Released: November 2007
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2090)
66 19 6
Country Boy
  • Released: October 2008
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV035)
64 6
Peace in the Valley
  • Released: October 2009
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV036)
18 8
O' Holy Night
  • Released: November 2010
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV040)
Moon Over Ireland
  • Released: March 2011
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV042)
10 9
Songs from the Movies and More
  • Released: October 2012
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV048)
60 10 7
A Picture of You
  • Released: November 2013
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV052)
3 16
The Hank Williams Songbook
  • Released: October 2015
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV061)
51 5
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)
84 3
  • Released: 15 October 2021
  • Label: DMG TV
I Wish You Well
  • Released: 4 November 2022
  • Label: DMG TV
How Lucky I Must Be
  • Released: 27 October 2023
  • Label: DMG TV

Live albums[edit]

List of live albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak 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)
31 21
Hope and Praise 82
Back Home Again
  • Released: March 2017
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV064)
72 4 14

Charting compilation albums[edit]

List of charting compilation albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak 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)
97 23 10
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)
32 5
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)
11 7
The Best of Music and Memories
  • Released: February 2016
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV062)
The Gold Collection
  • Released: March 2019
  • Label: Crimson (CRIMCD622)

Extended plays[edit]

List of EPs, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
The Love Songs
  • Released: May 1997
  • Label: Ritz (RITZCD306)
96 27


List of charting singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"I Need You" 1987 126 I Need You
"Summer In Ireland" 1987 164 The Daniel O'Donnell Four Track EP
"Two's Company" (with Margo) 1988 3 171 Two's Company EP
"Far From Home" 1989 1 Thoughts Of Home
"My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You" 1989 101 Thoughts Of Home
"Last Waltz of the Evening" 1990 7 The Last Waltz
"Marianne" 1991 22
"Letters from the Postman's Bag" 9
"The Three Bells" 19 71
"I Just Want to Dance with You" 1992 2 20 Follow Your Dream
"The Love in Your Eyes" 1993 23 47
"What Ever Happened to Old Fashioned Love" 15 21 Especially for You
"Singing the Blues" 1994 27 23
"The Gift" 46 Christmas With Daniel
"Secret Love"
(with Mary Duff)
1995 20 28 Timeless
(with Mary Duff)
1996 32
"Footsteps" 28 25 The Classic Collection
"Give a Little Love" 1998 5 82 7 Love Songs
"The Magic Is There" 16
"The Way Dreams Are" 1999 18
"Uno Mas" 25 Greatest Hits
"A Christmas Kiss" 20
"Light a Candle" 2000 23 Faith & Inspiration
"Morning Has Broken" 32
"You Raise Me Up" 2003 22 At the End of the Day
"Crush On You" 2006 57 21 Until the Next Time

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 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[citation needed]
  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Donegal County.com & Dún na nGall.com – Daniel O'Donnell". Dun-na-ngall.com. Archived from the original on 6 August 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  2. ^ "About Daniel". Daniel O'donnell Official Website. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  3. ^ "O'Donnell made honorary MBE". BBC News. 31 December 2001.
  4. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell lights the way for Aussie fans". Belfast Telegraph. 6 September 2010. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell secures unique UK charts record". Highland Radio. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell extends UK chart record as new album 60 becomes his 41st Top 40". Official Charts. 23 October 2021. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Archives". Archives. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell Tickets Available". Worldticketshop.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  9. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell | Gratis". Myspace.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  10. ^ "The Secret World of the Irish Male – New Island". Newisland.ie. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  11. ^ "Bland wee Daniel is No 1 at winding up top celebrities – National News". Independent.ie. 31 December 2006. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Jim McGuinness and Daniel O'Donnell singalong". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 25 September 2012. Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. 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. 4 April 2011. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  14. ^ "Daniel Helping To Boost Donegal Tourism". Donegal Daily. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  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 25 August 2011.
  18. ^ "BBC Two - Pop Goes Northern Ireland, Series 1, 1994, Daniel O'Donnell receives death threat". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  19. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell Death Threat". RTÉ Archives. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  20. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell made honorary MBE". The Irish Times. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  21. ^ "O'Donnell made honorary MBE". BBC News. 31 December 2001.
  22. ^ "RTÉ choose Daniel for Christmas Day evening special". Donegal Daily. 24 December 2011.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ Steve Wright in the Afternoon, BBC Radio 2, 20 August 2015
  25. ^ "Daniel hopes his sharp tongue won't be his undoing on Strictly Come Dancing". evoke.ie. 23 August 2015.
  26. ^ "Daniel and Majella's B&B Road Trip travels to RTÉ". RTÉ. 12 May 2016. Archived from the original on 13 May 2016.
  27. ^ "PLAYING MY SONG; Majella Makes Her Album Move". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  28. ^ "Unofficial Daniel O'Donnell website". Danielodonnell.org.uk. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  29. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell ties the knot". BBC News. 4 November 2002.
  30. ^ "First family photo of Majella and Daniel O'Donnell with grandchild Olivia". Irish Independent. 7 August 2015. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  31. ^ "Donegal's Daniel O'Donnell for TG4 series". IrishDigest.com. 31 October 2009. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  32. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell reveals support for 'Yes' vote in marriage referendum". Independent.ie. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  33. ^ O’Donoghue, Anna (15 May 2015). "Daniel O'Donnell speaks out about the marriage referendum". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  34. ^ The Romanian Challenge Appeal, a charity that helps orphaned Romanian children re-establish themselves within society.
  35. ^ "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.
  36. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing contestant Daniel O'Donnell: We profile the Donegal singer". Belfast Telegraph DIGITAL. 26 September 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  37. ^ "Chris Moyles – Daniel O'Donnell Lyrics". Lyricsmania.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  38. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell wants Corrie role". RTÉ. 2 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ a b c d e Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 207.
  41. ^ a b c "Daniel O'Donnell at New Zealand Charts". charts.nz. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  42. ^ a b c d e "Daniel O'Donnell | full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "British album certifications – Daniel O'Donnell". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 3 November 2020. Select albums in the Format field. Type Daniel O'Donnell in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  44. ^ "Daniel O'Donnell". The Irish Charts.

External links[edit]