Julia and Francis O'Donnell's grave is only "a mile or two" from where their son Daniel lives in Donegal. The singer visits them at St Mary's cemetery in Belcruit as often as he can.
Daniel believes death is the start of a new journey. Sometimes the many years between his parents starting their respective new journeys has caused Daniel some amusing graveside confusion - Julia died in 2014, at 94; Francis in 1967 when he was 49 and Daniel barely six.
"I say, 'Well, Mam, hello there'. I forget that my father is there too. He is there such a long time. Sometimes I have to say, 'We never mention you at all'." Daniel doesn't leave flowers on the grave because his mother "wasn't a great woman for flowers". He has no memory of what his father was like.
"I was told that he was a very quiet man. I know he liked to sing songs too," says Daniel, who can recall singing The Boys of the County Armagh by Bridie Gallagher when he was six or seven. "My father was a good singer. His father's family all sang. All his sisters. My aunt Mary. And my mother's side sang too."
Daniel's mother was from Owey Island, off the coast of Donegal. His father was from Burtonport. "All his family and my mother's family were good singers." Does Daniel sing in the shower or the bath at home? "Neither. I very rarely sing around the house."
We talk about the pandemic - a religious man, does Daniel ever ask why God allowed Covid-19 to take so many lives? "I can't answer that. I can't think that way. Hopefully things will get better. I don't try to make sense of everything that has happened."
Is that the voice of a six-year-old boy who couldn't make sense of suddenly losing his dad? "I don't remember trying to make sense of that either. I don't know what has me the way I am. I don't know what happened in my life that has me the way I am. I can't credit or blame. I have no memories of my father."
Daniel never became a father himself. He married Majella in 2002. "I have nieces and nephews. I have Siobhan and Michael [Majella's grown-up children] who came into my life and we have two grandchildren. So I feel I have been very fortunate to have all that in my life."
Did he and Majella try to have a baby? "We didn't not try. If you know what I mean. I suppose at the very beginning, we were both in our 40s, so the chances were that we wouldn't have a child. And Majella was a couple of years older than me. So it just never happened. You have to be realistic when you get older."
He is releasing new studio album Daniel on 16 October, with 13 tracks of new recordings, including Remember Me, a duet with Majella, and a cover of Ed Sheeran's Perfect. On October 4, he is a part of independent.ie's The Great Big Irish Thank You on Virgin Media One. So our national treasure is somewhat busy at the moment, in contrast to the start of the outbreak back in March. "Och, during the lockdown, nobody visited the house," he says of the home that architect Dermot Bannon transformed in 2018 on RTE's Room To Improve. "On an odd occasion, the doorbell rang. You'd be nearly jumping out of your skin to see who was coming. Or why they were coming."
Why? Is the driveway that long? "It's not too long, no." Is their house like Southfork Ranch in Dallas? "No, not quite Southfork," Daniel laughs, adding that he and Majella have sufficient space that during lockdown they were able to go out for walks and meet "very few people - if any at all". Also, the weather was so good from March to June that the couple were outside "nearly all the time". They did "bits and pieces" in the garden. It was "lovely to watch the flowers and wild flowers grow over that period".
Indoors, Majella did "a bit of painting". She does "nice stuff. She is very into acrylic art. She only started doing it in recent times, over the past four or five years, but she has a great flair for it," Daniel says proudly.
He hadn't been at home for that length of time for 40 years.
"Since school," he says. "If it weren't for the terrible circumstances, I would say it was a fantastic period. Underlying it, of course, was all the uncertainty. And every day I was watching the news and seeing people dying and more people being ill. So, from that point of view it wasn't a pleasant experience but the actual thing of being at home with Majella all the time was lovely."
He didn't spend all that time reflecting? "Och, I am not a person who looks back, who reminisces. I mean, I remember everything, and I am grateful for things. But there is no point in looking back because you can do nothing about what is past. And you can't do much about what's coming either. You can just do what you're doing today. So, make the best of that."
Daniel gives an insight into the dynamic between himself and Majella: "I don't need to be entertained all the time. I don't need to have something to do. I can be very calm and just sit."
This will prompt Majella, he says, to ask him: "What are you thinking about?" To which Daniel will invariably reply: "I'm not really thinking about anything."
"I haven't got a racing mind," he explains. "Majella's mind is always thinking on something. So, we're quite different in that respect."
Was the lockdown difficult for Majella, who in the past has suffered with depression? "No. She did well. She was fine." Majella was kept busy throughout because her mother Marion was living nearby in Dungloe. They were making sure she was all right - "bringing stuff and leaving stuff for her mother".
It was another mother, the Queen Mum, to say nothing of the Queen herself, that Majella and Daniel loved watching on The Crown on Netflix at the start of the pandemic. "I adore watching programmes about the royals, I have to say."
Before the pandemic, Daniel spent a lot of time on tour in America. How does he feel about the Black Lives Matter movement, which mushroomed in response to the murder by a white police officer of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis?
"It is very upsetting that we cannot live together," says Daniel. "All I know is that we shouldn't have this unrest because I'm white and you're black. Or I'm a Catholic and you're a Protestant or you're a Muslim. That should not be. The world is for all of us, irrespective of whether we're black or white, yellow or whether we believe this, that or the other. There is room in it for all of us. We should respect one another.
"Whether I believe this and you believe that, we should have the common sense to respect one another's beliefs. There shouldn't be unrest in the world. But there is. It's hard to figure out, but I suppose where there are humans, there will be failings. The basis of all religions is treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. If we respect one another, we should not have these troubles, but that's not how it is, sadly."
Daniel wouldn't be a politician, he says, "for all the tea in China". He always voted for Fianna Fáil's Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher "because he was from Dungloe, a local man. He lost his seat in the last election. I don't know who I will vote for now. My mother would have been a big Neil Blaney supporter. He was a very good man. He was a good politician. He was very good for Donegal."
Daniel grew up well aware of the Troubles, but he doesn't "have a memory of how it affected me - positively or negatively. We used to go to relations in Derry and for holidays. We had a lot of friends in the North. We were very aware of the North, of course."
Was he ever frightened to go to Derry as a kid? "No, but I was always wary of going over the Border and being checked. I was always glad when we went through the army checkpoint. I would hate to see a Border again."
When was the last time he cried? "Just recently. Someone close to me died. It is a sad time."
Has Daniel found himself praying more during the pandemic? "You pray as much as you can and you feel for people and offer up a prayer for different things." Praying doesn't necessarily give him peace, because, he says: "I'm not not peaceful.
"I'm not troubled personally but I'm concerned for the future for people. I hope once this is controlled and eradicated, we can get back to living."
Daniel watches Mass on the webcam. "It was great solace and focus for people. Everyone was praying for the one thing: that people would get through this. It was a uniting thing for a lot of communities."
To continue this sense of uniting people across Ireland, Daniel will be part of independent.ie's The Great Big Irish Thank You on Virgin Media One on October 4. The show is headlined by The Coronas, with many more acts still to be announced, and is presented by Muireann O'Connell.
"I am proud to be involved," says Daniel, "to help thank the people of Ireland for all their courage during the dark days of Covid-19."
Independent.ie's The Great Big Irish Thank You on Virgin Media One on 10pm on October 4 is sponsored by Arachas, Cadbury, Starbucks, 7 Up Free and Doritos.
Independent.ie's The Great Big Irish Thank You, on Virgin Media on October 4, will be a combination of the best of Irish talent, the highest production values and incredible accounts of humanity and kindness from all over the country. All of which will make this a night of riveting TV to remember.
Bill Malone, director of programming at Virgin Media Television, said: "The Great Big Irish Thank You is an evening of much-needed escapism, entertainment and live music, and an opportunity to take a moment to acknowledge, and say thank you, to everyone who has played their part, big and small, in making a difference with regard to the challenges this country has faced over the past months.
"Virgin Media Television is delighted to partner in such a positive and worthwhile initiative."
Amanda Dunleavy, executive producer of Tyrone Productions, added: "We are delighted to partner with independent.ie and Virgin Media to bring this very special show to air. Covid-19 has asked so much of the Irish people and this is our chance through story and song to say a huge 'thank you' to all those who have supported and continue to support each other in these unprecedented times."
This sentiment was shared by Peter Vandermeersch, publisher at Independent News & Media.
"It's the biggest story of our lifetime: Covid-19 and its impact on the society," he said. "As a newspaper we have been covering each and every aspect of it: the scientific angle and the medical one; the consequences for our economy and our society; if we can have a holiday abroad or stick to a staycation; the consequences for schools and pubs.
"But above all the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent and independent.ie have been writing about people - about men and women who became ill and people who paid the highest price.
"But especially about all these people who were fighting the consequences of the pandemic: nurses and doctors, people who clean care homes or keep elderly people company, bus drivers and people working in supermarkets, newspaper sellers and delivery people.
"We have a great common name for them: frontline workers. These people, who in many cases are not being well paid, are the real heroes of this crisis. Our society kept functioning because of them. We want to put all these people in the spotlight, and say a big 'thank you'. We will do this in a universal language: music. From the stage we make a very deep bow for all the frontline workers."
Celine Gilmer, marketing director of Starbucks Ireland, one of the sponsors, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has affected so many people, leaving us all yearning for some sense of normality. Music is so often an outlet for escape, and this exciting show is a reminder that we can still enjoy some fun and entertainment in these difficult times."
Conor Brennan, CEO of fellow sponsors Arachas , said: "The Great Big Irish Thank You is a powerful event that reminds us all of the part we play in looking out for each other. As an insurance broker, looking out for people is at the heart of what we do and we are delighted to help bring The Great Big Irish Thank You to life as we say thank you to our customers, team and community."
Eoin Kellet, MD of the Cadbury owner, Mondelez, added: "Kindness and generosity are integral to the Cadbury brand and our core values. Right across the country, we have seen countless selfless acts that have made people's days a little easier during these difficult times. This event is about recognising and thanking those people for their kindness and resilience over the past six months, and we are truly delighted to lend our support."
On October 10, Today FM will broadcast The Coronas' performance from The Great Big Irish Thank You, plus extra songs and interviews with the band by Fergal D'Arcy.
Sunday Indo Living