Fans show old-fashioned love for Daniel
More than 1,000 turn out for opening of visitors’ centre
FORGET stocks, shares or property -- Daniel O'Donnell is the new currency in Co Donegal.
Almost 30 years after he got a loan from the Northern Bank to buy his first van, the singer yesterday opened the Daniel O'Donnell Visitors' Centre in the same building where the bank once stood.
More than 1,000 fans, many of whom had queued from as early as 9am, gathered in the town of Dungloe hoping to catch a glimpse of the star.
And Daniel, dressed sharply in a grey suit, green tie and blue shirt, didn't disappoint.
Accompanied by his wife Majella, the 50-year-old said he hoped the opening of the centre, which contains much of his most-treasured memorabilia, will rejuvenate the town.
"I really do think that during times of recession we have to forget about Dublin and about governments and just do things for ourselves.
"I am hopeful that this little corner of Dungloe can provide the spark to help the town grow again," he said.
Not even a few drops of rain could dampen the spirits of fans as Daniel pulled the cord on a huge poster of himself outside the centre.
Daniel's fans didn't need convincing that the centre will be a runaway success.
One fan, June Payne from Aberdeen in Scotland, revealed she had travelled an estimated 280,000 miles around the globe following Daniel for the past 25 years.
"He is just so genuine and I am so glad there is now a centre in his name. He deserves all the praise he gets.
"I wouldn't have missed this opening for the world, and I think it will be great for the area in general," she said.
Pat 'Nora' Gallagher, whose idea it was to open the visitors' centre after Daniel asked him to store some of the memorabilia some years ago, said they couldn't have asked for a better day.
He said the huge crowds of people who turned up for the opening showed how much the people of Donegal and further afield simply loved Daniel O'Donnell.
"People know that Daniel O'Donnell is a genuine person and his fans are genuine people.
"Before this they saw him only whenever they saw him in concert, be that in Ireland, Australia, America or wherever.
"We are hoping they can now come to Donegal to this centre, learn and see so much more about Daniel and discover Donegal and Ireland in the process," he said.
The centre will be open from April until the end of September each year and it is hoped that at least 10,000 visitors will pass through its doors each summer.
The man himself personally welcomed the first 25 people on a tour of the centre, which houses an A to Z of the singer, including many gold discs, his wedding suit, wife Majella's wedding dress and even his first school bag.
The tickets, priced at €5, were selling like hot cakes to Daniel's devoted fans yesterday.
The Donegal entertainer was anxious to point out that this wasn't a museum but rather a visitors' centre.
"I think there's a bit more of the story to tell before we can call it a museum," said Daniel.