IRELAND'S proudest mother no longer has to turn a deaf ear to the singing of her famous son.
For decades, Julia O'Donnell (91) has occupied pride of place at the sell-out concerts of Daniel (48), at home and abroad.
But the hearing loss that came with ageing was depriving her of her greatest pleasure. Even listening to his recordings at home in Donegal had become almost impossible.
All that changed, when daughter Margo took her to the Hidden Hearing clinic in Letterkenny to be fitted with digital hearing aids.
"I couldn't hear a thing. I thought my hearing was gone for good and that I would never get it back again," she said from her home in Kincasslagh yesterday.
Julia, who had tried other hearing aids unsuccessfully, was not convinced that they would work, but the impact was instant. "Right away it happened. I couldn't believe it. I can hear everything now. It is great. I can hear Daniel singing, surely. I would nearly be able to dance again," she said.
She was unable to attend the first anniversary celebrations of Hidden Hearing in Letterkenny where Daniel cut the birthday cake and even sang an impromptu version of 'My Donegal Shore' to the delight of fans who had shown up.
Back in Kincasslagh a few hours later, he treated his mum to her own private serenade and she didn't miss a word.
"It is amazing the difference it has made to Mammy," he said.
"What we noticed was that she was removed from the situation she was in. She couldn't take part in conversation.
"Even though she is 91, her mind is very good and not having her hearing was a drawback to her," he explained.
He added that because other hearing aids had not worked, the family had thought that nothing could be done. "But now she hears every word you are saying -- even when she is in another room. I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a torture," he laughed.
"I can look forward to hearing Daniel's music and chatting with family, friends and all of Daniel's fans for the rest of my days," she said.
Daniel's sister Kathleen, who lives with Julia, said her mum is like a new woman.
"Before you couldn't hear yourself think because the music was so loud. Now you have the turn the news up because she has it on so low," she laughed.
Daniel, who will be 49 on December 12, has recently returned from a tour of Australia and New Zealand.