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Dublin: 2°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

Life on the road, retirement and marriage equality: A chat with Daniel O'Donnell

Daniel was in the office this week.

DANIEL O’DONNELL can still remember the moment he knew he wanted to be a singer.

For a man who has circumnavigated the globe and broken a major UK chart record, that’s fairly impressive.

Earlier this year O’Donnell became the first artist to have charting albums every year since 1988.

In total, O’Donnell has reached the UK Artist Albums Chart with more than 35 albums and has now amassed 29 Top 30 albums over the course of his career.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this week, the crooner said he could still recall when he realised he was going to sing for a living. Having begun singing alongside his sister Margo, O’Donnell got on stage with a local showband.

“I was in a hotel in Dungloe called Óstan na Rossan and there was a group called the Murray Family who would play every week.

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They’d invite people up to sing and I was up there singing one night. People were dancing in front of me and I was looking at the people and I thought “Wouldn’t this be a great way to spend your life?”.

“I still remember it. From there it began.”

An extremely unassuming man, O’Donnell says his success has been down to his fans getting behind him, but he doesn’t think about it too much.

“I’ve always sung what I wanted to sing and had good musicians and people around me.”

O’Donnell raised some eyebrows last year when he endorsed the Yes side in the marriage equality referendum, saying he felt “it was the right thing to do”.

The reaction to that wasn’t necessarily a surprise to him, but said “not everyone in Donegal thinks the same”.

Time off

Following his wife Majella’s cancer diagnosis in 2013, O’Donnell decided to take an extended break, the first he’s had in 35 years on the road.

We decided that when Majella was having her treatment that we would take a break and do some other things.

“We enjoyed it immensely and I loved the time off, but now I’m looking forward to the shows.

“I suppose you have to have a balance.”

The future

As he prepares for Christmas shows in Dublin’s Convention Centre and shows around Europe and the US, O’Donnell has no plans to stop.

“I don’t suppose I’ll ever retire unless my voice goes or I feel there’s not the demand there.

I never, ever thought it was a hard life and I have to be honest about that.

I didn’t mind the travelling or the late hours. There’s nothing about what I have done that I could say I didn’t enjoy.

Tickets for Daniel’s Christmas shows go on sale today.

Read: Daniel O’Donnell tells us why Irish people love country music

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