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About Daniel O'Donnell

 

If I hadn't made my name as a singer, I'd still be known at home as Daniel Bosco. Growing up, we were known as the Bosco family. That name distinguished us from the other O'Donnell's living in the area. My eldest brother is called John Bosco and it was derived from his name. It's a common feature in our neck of the woods where there are numerous families bearing the same surname. Letters would arrive at our house with just the name Bosco written on the envelope. The post would reach its destination without a hitch because we were the only Boscos living in the locality.


Daniel and familyAlthough I was never conscious of it as a wee lad, I did grow up in poor circumstances. But I obviously had a happy childhood, because looking back I have fond memories of that era. The house, which was our home during my early years, was very basic. It was an old-fashioned two-storey residence with an open-hearth fire that had pots hanging from crooks and simmering over hot coals. Even the scones (as we called the bread and cakes) were baked in a pot 'oven' on the open fire. My grandmother used to say that she carried stones for the building of the house, which was erected in the late 1800's. We didn't own it. It belonged to my mother's cousin, and it is still there today, situated across from the council house, which later became our home.


My sister Margaret - better known in Ireland as the singer, Margo - has had a big influence on my career. Margaret, who is just over ten years older than me, started singing in a band when she was only twelve years old. As a teenager, she'd travel home through the night in the back of a van from a dance and snatch a couple of hours' sleep in the early morning before heading off to school. It was the true showbiz tradition of hard graft that got her to the top of your chosen career. Growing up, I don' think I was conscious of the volume of her success. But I was aware that she was different to other kids' sisters. The first time I remember taking notice of her as a singer was in 1969, when I was only eight. She had a hit record with a song called "Dear God", and it was played on the radio. I thought she was great. As I grew older, I used to get away at weekends because my mother would travel to see her perform and she took me with her. It was on those occasions that I got my first taste of the stage, because Margaret used to get me up to sing with her - I would have been nine, ten or eleven.


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 9 February 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.

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