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Daniel O'Donnell

O'Donnell in concert in 2009
Background information
Birth name Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell
Also known as "Wee Daniel"
Born (1961-12-12) 12 December 1961 (age 62)
Kincasslagh, County Donegal, Ireland
Genres Country, easy listening, folk
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1980–present
Associated acts Majella O'Donnell, Margo, Mary Duff

Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell, MBE (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 Australia. In 2012, he became the first artist to have a different album in the British charts every year for 25 consecutive years. 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.

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.

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) 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 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 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.


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.

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

In Autumn 2015, he appeared on Strictly Come Dancing. 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.

Personal life

Kincasslagh Peninsula - Julia O'Donnell's home - - 1338600
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, 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 O'Donnell's home in Meenbannad area - - 1162102
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.

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

O'Donnell rarely speaks about politics but voiced his support for the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland in 2015. 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.


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.


Studio albums

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)
  • BPI: Silver
Especially for You
  • Released: October 1994
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD703)
  • BPI: Gold
Christmas with Daniel
  • Released: November 1994
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD704)
  • BPI: Gold
(with Mary Duff)
  • Released: March 1996
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD707)
  • BPI: Silver
The Daniel O'Donnell Irish Collection
  • Released: July 1996
  • Label: Ritz (RITZCD0080)
  • BPI: Silver
Songs of Inspiration
  • Released: October 1996
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBCD709)
I Believe
  • Released: October 1997
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBLC710)
  • BPI: Gold
Love Songs
  • Released: October 1998
  • Label: Ritz (RITZBLC715)
36 9
  • BPI: Gold
Faith and Inspiration
  • Released: October 2000
  • Label: Ritz (RZBCD717)
  • BPI: Gold
Live, Laugh, Love
  • Released: November 2001
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2002)
  • BPI: Gold
Yesterday's Memories
  • Released: October 2002
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2020)
Daniel in Blue Jeans
  • Released: March 2003
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV001)
  • BPI: Gold
At the End of the Day
  • Released: October 2003
  • Label: Rosette (ROSCD2040)
  • BPI: Gold
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
  • BPI: Gold
Country Boy
  • Released: October 2008
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV035)
64 6
  • BPI: Gold
Peace in the Valley
  • Released: October 2009
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV036)
18 8
  • BPI: Gold
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
  • BPI: Silver
A Picture of You
  • Released: November 2013
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV052)
3 16
  • BPI: Silver
The Hank Williams Songbook
  • Released: October 2015
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV061)
51 5
  • BPI: Silver
I Have a Dream: Classic Songs from the Seventies
  • Released: November 2016
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV063)
  • BPI: Silver
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

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
  • Released: May 2015
  • Label: Brockwell, Rosette, Sony Music Australia
Back Home Again
  • Released: March 2017
  • Label: DMG TV (DMGTV064)
72 4 14

Charting compilation albums

List of charting compilation albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
  • Released: April 1990
  • Label: Ritz (RITZCD0052)
  • BPI: Silver
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
  • BPI: Gold
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
  • BPI: Gold
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
  • BPI: Gold
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
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

  • 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

See also

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