You never know who you’re going to meet when you’re the summer entertainer at a popular Irish country hotel, and for singer Lorraine McDonald it was her Hollywood idol Bill Murray.
The Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters actor stayed at the idyllic Mount Falcon hotel in rural Co Mayo last year with his family and friends during their visit to Ireland.
Movie icon Murray enjoyed Mount Falcon’s summer dinner and cabaret show featuring soul singer Buck Taylor, Greg Pearle and two of the country’s top entertainers, Keith and Lorraine McDonald – and even joined the latter on stage to belt out one of his favourite songs, Mustang Sally.
“We have people from all over Ireland coming to our summer show in a spectacular bamboo tent at Mount Falcon, but you can imagine my surprise when I spotted Bill Murray,” Lorraine tells the Sunday World.
“I was a fan. I’d watched Groundhog Day a million times, it’s just brilliant. I went over to say hello and he said, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘Lorraine McDonald, I’m going to be entertaining you later on.’ ‘I like your shoes,’ he said, noticing that they had a nice diamanté feature. He was funny and quirky and I think he could see that I instantly ‘got’ his sense of humour.
“We do a show that has something for everybody in the music, from rock ‘n’ roll and all the classic songs to country. During the performance Bill and his group were in front of us and you could see that he was enjoying the music.
“And when we took a short break he made his way out to the side of the stage to talk to me. He said he loved my rendition of the Dolly Parton song, 9 to 5, and Tina Turner’s Simply The Best, and he said I made them my own.
“He spoke to me for five minutes and then he took selfies with myself and Keith on my camera. He was joking, ‘God, my head looks so big in this picture.’ He was fabulous and so genuine. Then, in the next part of the show he joined us on stage and sang backing vocals with us on Mustang Sally. It was unbelievable.”
Keith and Lorraine, who have their own show on Spotlight TV, grew up around celebrity as their father, Frankie, was the trumpet player in Irish superstar Joe Dolan’s band for 40 years.
“Dad and Joe were great pals, and Joe would often call in to our home in Athlone when they’d be heading off to a gig,” Lorraine says.
“We were young kids at the time and we loved Joe. He had that big happy smile and he was a very kind man.
“Sometimes if they were playing locally dad would bring us to the shows, in big ballrooms such as The Horizon in Mullingar and The Roseland in Moate, Co Westmeath.
"Then in the summer time we used to go down to the Glen Eagle Hotel in Killarney where Joe had a massive residency and he used to love to see us there.
“I always loved it when Joe would give me a shout out from the stage and play a request for me. I was very young and it made me feel so important. And if he said hello to any other little girl, I wouldn’t like it at all. Afterwards, Dad would sneak us up to the dressing room where Joe would give us cake and biscuits. He was a big star on the stage where everybody loved him, but he was equally as nice away from the spotlight and not at all starry.”
Keith and Lorraine caught the showbiz bug and went on to support Joe later in life as the opening act on his shows.
Lorraine recalls that she was also with Joe the night he played his final show in Abbeyleix back in September 2006.
“I was at the last gig when Joe had to stop the show and leave the stage. That was a sad day. Joe was part of our life for 40 years because he was family to Dad. That’s the way we looked at it,” she says, adding that herself and Keith are set to record a tribute to Joe Dolan in the new series of Opry le Daniel on TG4.
Keith and Lorraine, who will perform on the Sunday World Stars in the Sun trip to Torremolinos in September, are currently recording their new TV series which will be aired on Spotlight TV and features their dad, Frankie, taking a trip down memory lane with his look back at the showband era.