Danny boy drops by

MUCH-loved Irish crooner Daniel O'Donnell first came to Ipswich back in 1994.With songs like Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love?, Morning Has Broken, and You Raise Me Up among his repertoire Daniel O'Donnell is firmly in the easy-listening stable of acts.

DANIEL O'Donnell Daniel is the most popular artist to visit Ipswich. As he prepares to take to the stage at the Regent tonight, JAMES MARSTON finds out why he has such a devoted following.

MUCH-loved Irish crooner Daniel O'Donnell first came to Ipswich back in 1994.

With songs like Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love?, Morning Has Broken, and You Raise Me Up among his repertoire Daniel O'Donnell is firmly in the easy-listening stable of acts.

The clean-cut 45-year-old singer has been entertaining Ipswich audiences since 1992.

Hazel Clover, Regent theatre manager, said “Daniel is consistently the most popular and successful artist to visit Ipswich. He is adored by his fans. They don't scream and shout for him but he is loved for his music and for who he is.

“Customers have been known to camp for days prior to his tickets going on sale, sometimes as far as round the old Odeon and up Woodbridge Road. His music is not offensive and he really interacts with his fans.”

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The singer has sold more than 62,000 tickets at the theatre, over a total of 36 dates.

In fact the only year which Daniel missed performing was 2004 when he was touring America.

Hazel said: “He always sells out in Ipswich, and some fans follow him around the country. There is a scattering of tickets left for his performances this time, but we expect them to sell out fairly quickly.”

Daniel is also due to be the first performer to play in the refurbished auditorium, which should mean a comfy evening for his fans.

Known for his patient and gracious attitude to fans, he is popular among women of all ages and he became renowned for his friendly approach to his following. He has even invited his fans for tea at his home in Kincasslagh, on the Donegal coast.

Hazel said his act fills a gap for a generation who are keen on folk music. She said: “A lot of folk singers are in America and don't tour. Daniel provides the chance for the folk audience to see that style of music at The Regent and he is an important addition to our programme.

Hazel said: “He is one of the most pleasant artists to work with. After every performance Daniel stays and meets all the customers who stay, which is most of them. He gives fans so much of his time and I wouldn't be surprised is he doesn't know a lot of their names. They queue round the auditorium and many have their pictures taken with him. They would rather do that than follow him around or try to find out where he stays, they would think that rude.

“He meets anyone who wants to meet him and it can take longer than the performance. Sometimes the theatre staff does not leave until 3am in the morning.”

Daniel tours with the largest selection of personalised merchandise than any other artist to visit the theatre.

He has also made his mark with charity work, helping to raise millions for his Romanian orphans charity.

Hazel added: “Daniel spends a great deal of his day time when in town visiting his fans who are unable to attend his concerts such as the sick, disabled or very elderly.

“This is all above and beyond the call of duty and something that is very unusual nowadays.

“His popularity stems from his music and his ethos and attitude towards life and other people. We really enjoy having him here and we are delighted his performance will be the first in the refurbished theatre,”

There are just a few tickets left for Daniel O'Donnell. For more information call The Regent on 01473 433100.

Will you be going to The Regent to see Daniel? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Born: December 12, 1961

Childhood: Daniel began singing on the country music scene in Ireland as a teenager.

He has a second home in Tenerife but has main home is still in Kincasslagh, County Donegal where he grew up.

Highlights: In 2002 Daniel was awarded an honorary MBE for his services to the music industry.

Daniel's autobiography is entitled My Story.

On a radio programme in Donegal on Christmas Day 2001, he announced his engagement to 41-year-old Irish businesswoman Majella McLennan. The couple married in November 2002.

Career: He has had 20 UK Top 40 albums as well as 15 Top 40 singles and has sold 10 million albums worldwide.

He is also good friends with Cliff Richard.

Daniel once said: “The song that started the ball rolling for me in my own career was 'My Donegal Shore'.

“That composition will always be close to my heart. A guy called Johnny McCauley wrote it. He also wrote the number, 'Pretty Little Girl From Omagh'. Big Tom recorded 'My Donegal Shore' long before me. But the first time it touched a chord with me was when I heard a girl called Bridie Cahill singing it unaccompanied.

“While it was a slow burner for me, once it took off it certainly shot my career into top gear. I recorded that song with my own money in Big Tom's studios in Castleblaney, County Monaghan, on February 9 1983. I was always a great saver, a real magpie. And I had accumulated just over £1,000. It cost me £600 to record it on tape and another £600 to release it on record. That was the best money I ever spent.”

The lyrics:

Oh I know it's not right, reminiscing tonight

Of the days that are gone and returning no more

For the girl I dream of, has another mans love

Far, far away on a Donegal shore

But why should I care for she's happy o'er there

She may have children, she may be wealthy or poor

But I can't help my dreams of what might have been

If I stayed at home on my Donegal shore

Now it's winter time there, all the trees will be bare

And the rain clouds will darken my native Gweedore

But if that girl I could hold every raindrop would be gold

It could fall all around us on my Donegal shore

Now there's none to blame but before she took his name

When she told me she loved him, it hurt to the core

But I could never descend, to be only her friend

So I left her there on my Donegal shore

Now it's winter time there, all the trees will be bare

And the rain clouds will darken my native Gweedore

But if that girl I could hold, every raindrop would be gold

It could fall all around us on my Donegal shore

But if that girl I could hold, every raindrop would be gold

It could fall all around us on my Donegal shore

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