Wednesday 21 February 2018

A tearful goodbye from Daniel to mum Julia who wrote his first song

Daniel and his wife Majella at his mother's funeral
Daniel and his wife Majella at his mother's funeral
Daniel and Majella O'Donnell at the funeral of the singer's mother Julia
Daniel O'Donnell with his mother Julia
The burial of Julia O'Donnell, mother of singer Daniel O'Donnell, at St Mary's Church Kincasslagh in Donegal yesterday. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Daniel O'Donnell and his wife Majella follow the coffin of his mother Julia from the church
Dana at the funeral of Julia O'Donnell. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Margo O'Donnell leaving St Mary's Chapel Kincasslagh on Tuesday afternoon after the funeral of her mother Julia O'Donnell
Fr Brian Darcy at the funeral of Julia O'Donnell in Kincasslagh. Photo: Jason McGarrigle

Greg Harkin

TEARS rolled down the cheeks of heartbroken singer Daniel O'Donnell as he bade a sad farewell to his mother Julia at her funeral.

Hundreds of mourners packed into St Mary's Church in the west Donegal village of Kincasslagh, overlooking Owey Island where she was born, for a funeral Mass for the 94-year-old.

Daniel walked behind the cortege, reaching out to touch the glass of the hearse in front of him.

Mrs O'Donnell died on Sunday with Daniel and his brothers James and Bosco and sisters Margo and Kathleen by her side. She had been ill in recent months.

As the coffin was taken from the church after the Mass, Daniel wiped away tears.

The entire community had come together to support him, his wife Majella and the large O'Donnell family circle.

Eleven priests concelebrated the Mass, led by Father Brian Logue, a local priest who returned from Scotland to conduct the service at the request of Julia.

He had concelebrated the funeral Mass for her husband when he died 50 years ago.

"Julia was a wonderful mother," said Fr Logue.

"The children were also blessed, as I would know, with a wonderful father, Francie. I have no doubt now that he and Julia are together again in the Kingdom of God.

"She was a gifted and talented person. She was very well known for her knitting, she knitted for the Pope, she knitted for the queen and she received 'thank you' letters from both of them."

To laughter from the congregation, Fr Logue joked: "I cannot count the number of clerical black socks she knitted for me.

"She was also a composer of songs. When Daniel was nine years old he was at our home in Kincasslagh. He offered to sing a song for us and it was called 'there's a shop at the corner called Logues'. My father's shop.

"It was the first ever recorded song by Daniel. We still have the tape, the very first recording. And the studio it was composed in was Logue's kitchen."

Looking at the coffin, he said: "Now Julia, I'm going to bid you farewell.

"Whenever I reach the golden gates, I hope, I hope you will be there to welcome me with a new pair of socks . . . and a song.

"One day I will meet you and we will sing together again."

Parish priest Father Pat Ward told mourners it was "a very sad day" for the entire O'Donnell family circle.

"My own grandmother after every funeral used to measure the person by the number of priests who were there. If there were a good few, she would be pleased. I hope today then that Julia would be pleased because all the priests here are friends," he told mourners.

Among those celebrating Mass was Father Brian D'Arcy while Mary Duff sang hymns in Irish and English, her words carrying out over the Atlantic by the loudspeakers outside.

Personal friends of Daniel including his biographer Eddie Rowley and the All-Ireland winning manager Brian McEniff were among the congregation, which was filled to overflowing an hour before the service.

After the Mass, Mrs O'Donnell was laid to rest alongside her husband at Belcruit cemetery.

Irish Independent

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