Bringing 60 back | 

Daniel O'Donnell reflects on four decades on the road as he celebrates his 60th birthday

After 40 years on the road, a breakdown and recovery, Ireland's top singer is still going strong
Daniel’s still young at heart

Daniel’s still young at heart

Eddie Rowley

He's had an amazing 40-year showbiz career as one of Ireland's biggest stars, and as he turns 60 today Daniel O'Donnell reveals how he plans to keep on performing for many more years.

But Donegal's favourite son does intend to do less touring so he can spend more time with Majella and the grandchildren.

"I don't think the word retire will ever come into it," Daniel told the Sunday World yesterday.

Daniel and Majella out with Cilla Black, Cliff Richard and Gloria Hunniford in Cliff’s house in Portugal

Daniel and Majella out with Cilla Black, Cliff Richard and Gloria Hunniford in Cliff’s house in Portugal

"But I will slow down. I just don't think there is any sense in keeping going at a fast pace. I love being on the road, but I love my time off as well, so the balance is what's important now.

"I feel very young at 60, ­although I'm starting to think that I really should have more time off to recover after a tour, and I usen't to think like that.

"But maybe it's because I can take time off now. I don't have a sense of time running out, but I do have a sense that I have less time than I had. I'd like to think that I'll live to be old. I don't ever think I'm going to die at 80 and I have only 20 years left. I don't think that way.

"My mother lived to be a good age. I'm very lucky that I enjoy good health. I don't drink alcohol and I don't smoke. I don't even drink tea or coffee.

Daniel has no plans to retire

Daniel has no plans to retire

"I don't take hardly any dairy ­products and I never put salt in ­anything. I suppose I'm lucky that I don't crave things.

"I'm not going to go on forever, I know that… and whether that will be me thinking I'm not as good at it, or maybe the audience dwindles, whichever comes first."

In the early days as a single man, he was only ­focused on his career.

"My life was career, career, ­career. Nothing, and I mean nothing, diverted me from the career.

"But then I met Majella and that changed everything. I was 37 then, and it's funny how, when you meet someone that you know is right, it just changes how you think.

"That brought another ­aspect to my life with Majella's children, Siobhán and Michael.

The first photo of Daniel as he was starting out on his long career

The first photo of Daniel as he was starting out on his long career

"They grew up with us and I had a great relationship with them. Then the grandchildren came along and it's the best ever. I'm absolutely besotted with them, and probably more needy for them than they are for me.

"Olivia and Archie will say, 'Gaga, will we go out and play?' I think they see me as a big child.

"It's lovely to be able to go out and do the shows, but now I want to work at a level that gives me more time for our family.

"When I look back, I'm glad I did everything I got the opportunity to do. Whatever your career allows you to achieve, you should reach for it and take every opportunity that comes your way. That's what I did throughout my career.

The singer when he was a little boy

The singer when he was a little boy

"But I also say now to the younger people to 'be sure to enjoy it'."

Daniel admits he pushed himself to the limit in the early days and his exhausting schedule led to a breakdown in his health.

In 1992 he was forced off the road for a few months to recover. When he was set to return, his manager, Seán Reilly, and promoter, Kieran Cavanagh (now his manager), suggested that Daniel's comeback should be at The Point in Dublin.

"I would never have dreamt of doing The Point (now the 3Arena)," Daniel says. "It was a huge, big pop-rock venue to me, a place where international stars played.

It was packed out on the night. And that was the start of him doing big concerts.

Daniel with the love of his life Majella

Daniel with the love of his life Majella

"I'm glad I did all of that in my career. And it's still lovely to do live shows and get in the charts. It was lovely to be No.3 in the UK charts with my latest album, 60.

"Forty years ago my ambition was just to sing in a band around ­Ireland and maybe the UK. I didn't imagine any more because that's what everybody was doing.

"When I was 20, if somebody had told me that I would go on to enjoy all that I have enjoyed and still be doing it I just wouldn't have believed it.

"So I'm delighted to be where I am in my life at 60. Most of all, I'm grateful to be still alive at 60."

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