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Saturday 3 December 2016

Rockin' Rowley: Daniel is ready to hit the road again

Eddie Rowley

Published 03/08/2016 | 02:30

Daniel O'Donnell
Daniel O'Donnell
Albert Hammond pictured on the right.
Ronnie Drew

It might not seem like he took a break, but it's been 18 months since Irish country superstar Daniel O'Donnell quit touring to spend time with his wife, Majella.

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Daniel's momentous decision after more than 30 years in the business followed the trauma of Majella's shock diagnosis and subsequent treatment for breast cancer in 2013.

Although the devoted couple did disappear on a world cruise for the first five months of this year, Daniel had packed a lot of experiences and new challenges into his life prior to that luxury holiday.

There was his gutsy turn as a contestant on one of Britain's top entertainment shows, Strictly Come Dancing. While Daniel was voted out in the early weeks, he was relieved to leave with his dignity intact.

Then there was his surprise TV hit when he teamed up with Majella to do a B&B tour of Ireland.

Their hilarious banter and engagement with the people they encountered was TV gold.

A new series has now been recorded and will be broadcast by RTÉ in January.

If he had any concerns that his departure from the concert scene for such a long time would hurt his drawing power they were quickly dispelled - his shows at Killarney this month sold out after going on sale last December.

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Similarly, Daniel's three concerts at Dublin's Convention Centre next December were the fastest selling of his career.

"I genuinely did wonder if the people would still be there when I came back," Daniel admits.

"I certainly never expected that the support would be bigger than ever."

Currently in rehearsals with a band that features six new members, he adds: "I was a bit rusty after the break, but by the time we open in Killarney I'll be singing like a bird again."

Hammond's highlights...

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If you were among the audience at the Punchestown Music Festival last Saturday week, then no doubt you'll agree that Albert Hammond was one of the major highlights.

As the legendary songwriter and singer fired off his astonishing jukebox of hits, jaws dropped at the treasure chest of songs that he has composed throughout his life. Hammond is a prolific writer who helped launch the international careers of artists that include the late Joe Dolan. He penned Joe's iconic songs, 'Make Me An Island' and 'You're Such A Good Looking Woman'.

Other Hammond hits include 'Freedom Come, Freedom Go' (The Fortunes),'The Air That I Breathe' (Hollies), and 'To All The Girls I've Loved Before', which was a smash for Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson.

And his classic, 'When You Tell Me That You Love Me', was a hit for Diana Ross in 1991, and again for Westlife featuring Diana Ross in 2005.

Remembering Ronnie Drew

Fans of the late Ronnie Drew are in for a treat with the announcement that a special concert in his honour will be held in Dublin's Vicar Street on Friday, September 2.

Artists so far confirmed include his son Phelim , Phil Coulter, John Sheahan, Mary Coughlan, Eleanor Shanley, Declan O'Rourke, Mike Hanrahan and The Nualas.

This is a charity event with all of the proceeds going to the Cancer Clinical Research Trust at St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin.

Tickets are now available through Ticketmaster.ie.

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