It is no easy feat to reach cultural icon status within your home country, but Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell has firmly earned his place after soothing souls with his dulcet tones for four decades.
The Donegal-born star also has the commercial success to support his prestige having landed an album in the top 40 of the UK albums chart every year since 1991.
Despite reaching these heights, he remains steadfast to his Irish humility.
“I feel very grateful that I’ve been allowed to have the career that I have,” he says with complete sincerity.
“I’ve done something all my life that I’ve enjoyed so much, and not many people can say that about what they do for work. I don’t even call it work but that’s what I suppose it is to other people.
“So I feel very blessed in that respect, that I got that opportunity, and that’s down to the audience really, and the people who have followed me.”
O’Donnell, affectionately known as Wee Daniel by his legion of fans, hands all the praise to those who have supported him throughout his career.
However, things nearly ended up very differently for O’Donnell as he initially tried his hand at a business studies course but switched track when he joined the band of his older sister Margaret, known by her professional name Margo.
He later left the group to pursue a solo career, releasing his first album The Boy From Donegal in 1984, but it took a number of years of hard graft before he gained traction.
His chart breakthrough came in the form of 1988’s From The Heart and he has been on a roll since, releasing more than 50 albums which venture into a range of genres from Irish folk to country music as well as gospel and renditions of standards from the 1950s and 60s.
He will be back on the road in October for the tour of his forthcoming album – How Lucky I Must Be – where his devoted fans will no doubt be returning in their droves.
“Some people that come to the shows, I first met them probably 35 years ago, which is amazing,” the 61-year-old muses.
“And then some people only come to one show, maybe a year, but I’ve met them all down through the years so I would know them to see.
“It’s lovely when you go out on tour that you’re not just going out to see faces, you see them but you don’t know who they are, a lot of the people that I see in the audience, I actually know them from other shows.”
The new record features a selection of fresh material, with the title track written by Scottish singer Isla Grant, a song which O’Donnell says he loves.
Does he feel the new album will maintain his chart success streak? “It would be great if it did”, he admits. “I suppose you can’t think that this will last forever but I’ve been very fortunate, I have a great following that every time we release an album, they’re out there.
“And now I suppose it’s different, it’s not so much buying in shops, they’re downloading and ordering online so it’s a different dynamic, but still, somehow they manage to get enough of them to get it in the charts, which is amazing.”
Even after more than 40 years as an entertainer, O’Donnell is still attracting new fans, some of whom have discovered him through his TikTok page which he launched last year.
He reveals: “We did shows in Ireland and there were younger people there who said, ‘Oh we’ve seen the TikToks and you should do more, they’re good fun’.
“And I think ‘Oh, yeah, maybe I will’ but I haven’t done anything since.”
“I struggle with social media to be honest,” the singer admits. “I never really got into it in a way that I suppose other people have.
“There’s lots of people in the office in the record company that do things for me, but I should do more, I suppose.”
Throughout his career, O’Donnell has collaborated with many fellow Irish stars including a moment when the stars aligned and he worked alongside the late Sinead O’Connor on the Irish version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in a bid to raise money for their chosen charities.
“We were an unlikely pairing that really clicked very well on the night,” he recalls. “And she was lovely, she was a beautiful soul.
“And after the thing was over myself and herself and Brian Kennedy were dancing on the floor, that’s my memory of her, it was a happy memory of Sinead for me.”
Dublin-born O’Connor, who was propelled to international stardom in 1990 with her version of Nothing Compares 2 U and was known for taking fierce stances on social and political issues, died at her London home in July aged 56.
“She had a very difficult life and in the latter months of her life, the loss of her son, it’s beyond comprehension I suppose until somebody loses one of their children, I can’t imagine what it must be like,” O’Donnell, who has two stepchildren from his marriage to his wife Majella, reflects.
“Such a sad, sad loss to to the world of music but it’s her family that will miss her the most.”
= Daniel O’Donnell’s album How Lucky I Must is out on November 3 and his tour kicks off on October 13.