Faithful turn out to see O'Donnell open visitor centre

Mon, May 7, 2012, 01:00

UP TO 1,000 devoted Daniel O’Donnell fans gathered as their idol cut the ribbon to officially open the world’s first Daniel O’Donnell visitor centre.

Fans travelled from as far as Canada and Scotland for yesterday’s opening which people hope will breathe new life into the Co Donegal town of Dungloe.

Some queued from as early as 9am until 2.30pm as O’Donnell unveiled a huge poster of himself outside the building which once housed the Northern Bank.

The entertainer revealed it was in that bank in 1983 that he took out a €1,000 loan for his first van which he used on the road during his early career.

Mr O’Donnell (50) said he hoped the centre, which contains much of his most-treasured memorabilia, would rejuvenate the town.

“I really do think that during times of recession we have to forget about Dublin and about governments and just do things for ourselves. I am hopeful that this little corner of Dungloe can provide the spark to help the town grow again,” he said.

Not even light rain could dampen the spirits of the faithful and their idol threw in an impromptu version of My Donegal Shore, to which fans sang along.

One fan, June Payne from Aberdeen, Scotland, revealed she has travelled some 280,000 miles around the world following Mr O’Donnell for the past 25 years.

“He is just so genuine and I am so glad there is now a centre in his name,” she said.

Pat “Nora” Gallagher, whose idea it was to open the visitor centre after Mr O’Donnell asked him to store memorabilia some years ago, said they could not have asked for a better day.

The centre will be open from April until the end of September and tickets are €5. The man himself personally welcomed the first 25 people on a tour of the centre, which houses an A to Z of Mr O’Donnell, including many gold discs, his wedding suit, wife Majella’s wedding dress and even his first schoolbag.

Mr O’Donnell was anxious to point out that this wasn’t a museum but rather a visitor’s centre. “I think there’s a bit more of the story to tell before we can call it a museum,” the singer said.