Saturday 24 March 2018

Crooner Val fondly recalled by stars

Doonican dies peacefully at home at age of 88

Singer Val Doonican in his heyday in 1977
Singer Val Doonican in his heyday in 1977
Val Doonican with his wife Lynn
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Val Doonican's soothing vocals, gentle repartee and penchant for eye-catching pullovers were remembered with fondness yesterday following the news of his death.

Having charmed TV viewers for well over two decades, the Irish singer passed away peacefully in his family home in Buckinghamshire aged 88.

"It was old age, I'm afraid," his daughter Sarah said. "The batteries ran out."

The youngest of eight children, Michael Valentine 'Val' Doonican was born in Waterford on February 3, 1927. He grew up in a musical family and inherited a love of the stage.

"Everything he did had panache and polish," Gay Byrne told the Irish Independent. "He was a fantastic entertainer, a natural storyteller, self-deprecating and utterly charming. There was something of Bing Crosby about him."

Doonican left school after the death of his father and began gigging around the country. He garnered much attention after he penned the jingle for Donnelly's Sausages.

Doonican moved to the UK in 1951 to join Irish quartet The Four Ramblers, before embarking on a successful solo career.

But his big break came in 1963, when he appeared on hugely popular entertainment show 'Sunday Night at the Palladium'.

Doonican sang several songs, including 'Delaney's Donkey' and caused an immediate sensation. That eight-minute slot was to change his life and resulted in him being offered his own BBC TV show.

"I was an overnight success after 17 years," he said at the time. The Palladium performance also massively boosted his recording career and he went on to have five successive Top 10 albums in the UK charts in the 1960s.

Former contemporary Bruce Forsyth noted he "had the warmth, the voice and the sweaters. He was one of the warmest personalities I think we have ever had."

Doonican's hit TV series ran at the BBC for over 25 years. During that time, he played a special role for many thousands of Irish immigrants to the UK.

At a time, when IRA bombs were exploding in England, Doonican portrayed an image of what might be described as old-fashioned Irish decency.

Behind the relaxed TV persona was a shrewd and creative mind, and a finely tuned musical ear.

Doonican stopped performing in 2009 after over 60 years in showbusiness.

"He used to say it was a great thing he had made a living out of doing what he loved," Gay Byrne said.

He leaves behind his wife Lynn, daughters Sarah and Fiona and grandchildren Bethany and Scott.

Irish Independent

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