Majella O’Donnell has spoken out in a bid to change mens’ attitudes towards managing stress and looking after their mental health.
As suicide continues to be a major issue, Donegal Mind Wellness are launching a new term of Stress Control Programmes, with one specifically for men.
From the end of January to March, courses will begin in Frosses, Letterkenny, Ballyshannon, Falcarragh and Clonmany.
Majella O’Donnell is the founder of the charity and prominent supporter of mental health awareness.
She explained the idea behind the mens’ programme.
“The reason we’re doing the men’s only classes is that men are so much more difficult to get to discuss mental health problems. I suppose it comes from how they are brought up, men think they are supposed to be tough and are supposed to handle everything on their own.
“We know from suicide rate in Donegal, never mind the rest of the country, that men are very much affected by mental health issues too.
“Women are so much better at speaking out, discussing their problems and getting everything out into the open. But these classes don’t require anyone to say anything. You come and listen to the facilitator and they give a talk and help you to deal with stress and problems such as sleeplessness and anxiety,” Majella said.
This unique male-only concept for Donegal is not like group therapy as there is no discussion of personal problems or jargon that is difficult to understand. The classes are free and do not require a reservation.
“We hope that men will come along and understand that they won’t be judged as being weak, because we’re all in the same boat.
“I would say to men to put the image that they should be strong aside, and take the chance to do this. People are always saying there’s nothing out there to help people with their mental health. This is out there, it’s free and it’s fantastic,” Majella said.
The classes are arranged to help people stay conscious of their mental well-being long after they’ve completed the course. If someone has previously tried stress control and need to refresh their mindset, they can do this too.
“Breaking the habit of lifetime is not going to happen overnight. The course is about giving you the tools to work with your problems. At the end of the day, you’re going to be the one to have to practice these things.”
“When you’ve finished one course you’re full of ideas, and then as the months go on you need a boost again. People who have done it before may need a refresh in their minds.”
Majella is the founder of Donegal Mind Wellness, while there is a team of volunteers working within the charity to provide the services and classes.The stress control classes have been running since the organisation began in 2014.
“I would say to anyone at all to come along – you have nothing to lose!,” Majella said.
The stress control programme for men begins on Thursday 26th January in the Letterkenny Rugby Club from 7.30-9pm. No booking is necessary.
A mother, a granny, a businesswoman and a wife to one of the most famous men in the country. Our sister website, Donegal Woman, caught up with the inspiring Majella O’Donnell recently to get an insight into her life.
We all remember the courageous image of that night on ‘The Late Late Show’ when she heroically revealed to the nation that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and that she was going to have her head shaved, live on television.
For me, before that moment, I literally knew very little about Majella other than she was Daniel O’Donnell’s wife. That night I shed a tear for her bravery and I became very interested in who this woman was. Majella had instantly become much more than the woman who married Daniel for the people of Ireland. She was an outrageously brave and kind woman who wanted to use her situation to raise money for cancer charities in Ireland.
Now we are three years on from that night on the Late Late Show, Majella has thankfully been given the all clear. This year we have watched the famous couple on their ‘B&B Road Trip’ hit TV show which resulted in the duo picking up an IFTA for their on screen antics.
We have seen both Daniel and Majella dancing on the television separately on both The Late Late Show and Strictly Come Dancing. Thanks to social media we even knew when the pair were heading off on holidays; such is the level of interest that has risen from their warming on screen nature.
Recently I heard Majella speaking on local radio, depression was the topic being discussed and when I tuned in she was talking about mindfulness. Majella has founded ‘Donegal Mind Wellness’ in conjunction with the HSE which is something Donegal is sure to vastly benefit from.
Donegal Woman recently caught up with Majella in the beautiful Waterfront Hotel in Dungloe – not too far from where she and Daniel reside. We spoke about everything from being a grandmother, founding a charity and her own signature style. She has also given us some ‘exclusive’ pictures from her daughter’s magnificent wedding day.
“Majella , 2016 has been a big year for you, what would you say have been the highlights so far?”
“There have been quite a few highlights for me over the past year. It was really enjoyable and a special year for Daniel and myself. We set off on our around the world cruise last January. It started in Los Angeles and ended up in Dubai. It was a four month trip and it was truly amazing. After Daniel and I got back, we were straight into shooting the B&B Road trip series two, which is great fun.
Another highlight was our Nomination for the IFTA for our B&B Road Trip, which we won, that was fantastic.”
Majella goes on to tell Donegal Woman that perhaps one of the greatest highlights, is being able to spend lots of time with her granddaughter Olivia. “Olivia is now 15 months and she really is the love of our lives.”
“Can you tell us about ‘Donegal Mind Wellness’ which you have founded?”
“Donegal Mind Wellness is a charity that I set up because I wanted to try and help people. People in their everyday lives, not sick people or people with ‘problems’ but everybody. The stresses and strains of life today are enormous, life years ago was much harder, tougher; but there wasn’t the mental buzz of social media going on all the time. If you say or do something now, it’s out there for thousands of people to see, in that respect it is very tough especially for younger people.
“I wanted to set up the charity, to see what I could do. I am in a position where I can raise money for charity, whether it is through myself doing talks or Daniel at different events.
“Within the Donegal Mind Wellness we have a program at the moment called stress management, it is a six week program that is free to everyone. We are trying to do it in as many places around the county that we can. The website is www.donegalmindwellness.ie The website tells you all about the stress management course and the details of where they are coming up. I am so passionate about it because it just teaches you how to deal with the stresses of life. It helps people who aren’t sleeping great, panic attacks, people who are just fed up and much more. It just helps you deal with the stuff going on in your mind.
“I say to people that they should go on it, and they say “Oh I will tell so and so to go on it, They’d appreciate it because she has ‘problems’ at home”. I say no, you go on it; it’s not for people who have problems. It’s for people who have stress and that’s everyone. I really would like Donegal Women, people who are at home and up to their eyeballs with kids or debt or whatever to go on this course because, it helps to manage the stress that we all have in our day to day lives. The course is completely free and is on once a week for an hour and a half over six weeks. People who go along to the course don’t even have to talk, they can just go along and listen the speaker and take away their booklet at the end of the night. They can then take the techniques they learned on the course and use them at home.
Once that they have done that I recommend that they tell their friends and family if they have benefited from the course and they can then encourage others to do it.”
I have read previously that you said battling depression was tougher than it was dealing with your cancer. For any of our readers suffering from cancer, depression or any other illness at the moment what words of encouragement would you give to them?”
First Majella tells us her experience with cancer.
“With a physical illness like cancer, focus on today. If you get a diagnosis like cancer deal with what information you have today. If you get told ‘we might do further tests’ – take it as it is. Don’t start going down the road of ‘what if’. Of course that is very hard not to do, but try and deal with the moment. Some people will get a diagnosis and will have themselves dead and buried before they know what is coming down the line. They put themselves through that misery unnecessarily.
“When I was told I had cancer, I thought right ok what can I do now. I was having an operation in four weeks’ time and we were going to take the lump out, so at that moment there was little that I could do. Once the lump had been removed I could then deal with the result of the biopsy. Trying to stay positive and not dwelling on the diagnosis in between an operation and treatment is very important. You have to stop thinking on the worst and try to stay positive, which is very hard. Just take one day at a time. There will be days when you feel rubbish from the treatments, but maybe tomorrow you will feel a little better. “
Majella then goes on to give Donegal Woman her experience with depression.
“When I am depressed, I find it a very dark place to be but eventually I know that the cloud will always lift.I would advise people to get out there walking is a fantastic thing. Appreciate the small things in life. Try to believe that we all have good in our lives, something to be grateful for. Try and be grateful for whatever you have in your life, whether it be healthy kids or a great partner or whatever it may be. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.”
“Daniel and yourself are about to see the hugely popular B&B Road Trip return to our screens again, what can we expect from this series? We absolutely love the on-screen banter with the pair of you. The unscripted nature of the show is really refreshing and I am sure this is one of the main reasons why it has been such a hit. Also, who knew Daniel was such a devil?!”
“I always knew that we would work well if we were on television together, because we are so different. I am more of a devil than Daniel, he has a great sense of humour. I love to tease him and set him up.
“I knew when they came up with the idea for the B&B Road Trip, that it would be great fun. It’s totally unscripted. It’s refreshing because of the unscripted nature. People love to see Daniel in his every day self and me doing all the crazy things. People love to see how Daniel reacts to it.”
“We have seen the beautiful pictures earlier this year of your daughter Siobhan getting married in Spain. What was the experience of being the mother of the bride like for you? Did it take you long to find the stunning dress for the occasion?
“It was emotional, wonderful and I was so happy. Siobhan’s husband is a lovely guy and the day was lovely. I got an invite and that was nice, it was Siobhan’s day and It was magical. I was very emotional when she walked down the aisle it was just perfect.
“The blue dress was designed and made specially by Julian McDonald who is a renowned designer in the UK.. Daniel and I were at a charity auction and one of the auction prize’s was two tickets for London Fashion week, back stage passes and a couture dress designed just for you. Daniel won the prize and I went over to London and met Julian and we sat down together and discussed what I wanted. He designed it to suit me. I felt like a queen in the dress. “
“How would you describe your signature style? What would be your go to day time staples? Also, when you go glamorous do you have a Designer or shop that never fails you?”
“I go everywhere for my clothes. I go into the Cope in Dungloe, McElhinneys, Dunnes Stores, Penneys, anywhere. I don’t care about fashion; I wear what is comfortable and is good for me.
If I wear a dress, it has to be just below my knee; my knees are bad. I like colour, colours that are good for me. I like to wear coral; people always complement me when I wear colours that suit me. I wear good colours and clothes to complement my figure. Apart from that I will shop anywhere.
“For more glamorous occasions I don’t like to pay more than €400 because I can only wear it once or twice. I just want something that is a good shape and a good colour for me. I’m really boring like that, I am happy to find something that suits me.
“Something that I do feel is important in your wardrobe is a good handbag and good shoes. I used to have a shoe obsession. I was always buying lots of different shoes. My daughter said to me ‘Mum stop buying rubbish shoes, buy a nice pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, in black or nude. So I did and I haven’t had to buy any other shoes since.”
“Majella you have been with us in Donegal now since 2002, where are your favourite places to go in the county. (This can be anything from restaurants, spa’s, hotels, etc)”
“When we come home we just like to relax. When we are away traveling or on the road, we are constantly eating out, going places, and seeing people so when we come home we just like to be at home. We just like to relax, potter around the house and do our chores.
“I love Donegal, I think it’s the most beautiful county and I think the people are the real salt of the earth.
“Owey Island is somewhere I go during the summer months. It’s where Daniel’s mother is from. Around ten years ago people started going out and doing up cottages to use during the summer. I go out around May time and then close up in August or September. When I am out on Owey Island, I enjoy walking, reading and painting. There is a real sense of community on Owey and we all help each other out. At night we sometimes we have card nights, wine tastings, quiz nights etc. Owey Island is a beautiful place. I love Donegal and I am so glad it’s my home.”
DD HEALTH: CANCER survivor Majella O’Donnell and her husband Daniel will be among star-studded guests taking part in the inspirational Relay for Life Donegal event starting today.
Thousands of people are expected to take part in the main event at the LyIT campus in Letterkenny over the next two days – 5pm this evening until 5pm tomorrow (Sunday).
Majella has been cancer-free for two years and has been a huge advocate for cancer research and support for those suffering from the various forms of the illness.
Majella said: “I’d like to encourage everyone to come out and support this fantastic event. As we all know, cancer affects nearly all of us in our lives and we all need to get behind this and support it.”
Daniel added: “We want to be part of Relay for Life Donegal 2016. We certainly hope that it will be a great success.”
Daniel will be the closing act at the two-day festival when he takes to the stage tomorrow, Sunday, at 4pm.
Relay For Life is a 24 Hour community event which celebrates people who have survived a cancer diagnosis, remembers those lost to the disease and brings the community together to Fight Back against Cancer.
Here’s a message from the organisers:
Members of the public are very welcome to attend at any point during the 24 hours on 4th/5th June, from 5pm to 5pm
There are some important things to note:
The event is a Free event and starts at 5pm sharp on Sat 4th June If you would like to attend the opening ceremony please be on site no later than 4:30pm.
Parking for the event is free in LYIT. As there will be peak times throughout the 24 hours you are asked to park responsibly in and around the event.
On the day you will notice many people wearing purple “Survivors” tee shirts. These people are our VIP’s so feel free to greet them with a smile and a “hello”.
There will be many different activities throughout the days at the various team gazebos so please feel free to get involved.
Food / Tea / Coffee and refreshments will be for sale in “An Danlann” (the LYIT Sports Centre).
There will be additional toilet facilities available on the campus and in and around the event.
Some areas of the LYIT campus will not be accessible to members of the public so you are asked to please cooperate with event staff.
Drugs or Alcohol are not permitted on the grounds of LYIT at any point during the weekend.
This is a no-smoking venue, including e-cigarettes.
Animals are not permitted but there are no restrictions on guide dogs or assistance dogs.
As this is a family occasion, children are welcome but must be supervised at all times.
Please familiarise yourself with the emergency points in your vicinity throughout the day.
Comfortable shoes are a must if you are attending Relay For Life, high heels should not be worn for health and safety reasons. And most importantly, HAVE FUN!
MAJELLA O’Donnell has branded the way British cops are treating pal Cliff Richard as “disgraceful”.
Daniel O’Donnell’s wife spoke out over how the investigation of sex abuse allegations had been allowed to drag on, without any sign of charges being brought against the 75-year-old star.
Majella said: “What is happening is inhuman and should not be allowed. Why has he not been cleared yet?
“He hasn’t been arrested or charged after almost two years. It is disgraceful! Shame on the British police.”
The story first hit headlines in August 2014 when the BBC broadcast live footage of South Yorkshire Police raiding Cliffs’ home in Berkshire, UK, as the singer holidayed in Portugal.
Majella and husband Daniel were later photographed in Albufeira with Cliff where he owns a vineyard.
The couple, who described Cliff as “first and foremost a friend,”, said his name should not have been released to the media by UK police.
Majella said: “They hadn’t even spoken to the man. He would be the very first person to say that any person that has had an allegation made against him should absolutely and most definitely be investigated.”
The singer’s family has also been speaking up for the first time about the way allegations are being investigated.
Majella O Donnell has informed the organising committee for this year’s North West Breast Cancer Ball that she will be flying home from a sunny Tenerife to attend the ball this week.
Majella was guest of honour at last year’s Breast Ball. She spoke movingly of her own journey with breast cancer and made a very generous financial contribution to help promote ongoing research into breast cancer at Letterkenny University Hospital.
This year’s ball is this Friday 27th November at the Silver Tassie Hotel.
If, like Majella, you want to be part of this sparkling community event , tickets can still be purchased at The Silver Tassie or at Liberty Travel
Come along at 7.15pm and meet this year’s celebrity guest of honour, Áine Lawlor, RTE, and our medical special guest, Dr. Petrouskja van der Tol.
With Noel Cunningham at the helm, and the Kopycats in charge of the dance floor, it promises to be a fantastic night out!
Singer Daniel O’Donnell has revealed that wife Majella has become a knitting fanatic since learning she is to be a grandmother.
The Donegal entertainer and his wife recently revealed how Majella’s daughter Siobhan and her fiancé Gavin are expecting their first child.
Now Daniel, 53, has revealed how Majella has settled into the role of grand mother-to-be with ease!
“We’ve had some wonderful news. Siobhan and her fiancé Gavin are going to make us grandparents in July.
“We are so excited and can hardly wait for the baby’s arrival. Majella is already knitting and crocheting blankets and toys of all sorts,” he said.
Majella is in good company on the knitting front as Daniel’s late mum Julia was a renowned knitter who even made gloves for Queen Elizabeth and the Pope.
The celebrity couple are back in their home in Tenerife after taking part in the Gertrude Byrne Irish Cruise of the Caribbean.
But Daniel said he may need to watch what he is eating after over-indulging.
“It really is a fun week and it’s so nice to be able to relax and meet people throughout the ship. Usually the meetings are at the midnight buffet, that we would be better staying away from! They are not good for the waistline,” he said.
Majella O Donnell has come to the aid of people in her adopted county of Donegal to cope with stress.
She is to officially launch the ‘Donegal Mind Wellness’, a charity which was founded by Majella in conjunction with volunteers and help from the HSE in Donegal.
The charity aims to help people to deal with the ups and downs of everyday life, which may lead to stress, anxiety and depression, by showing them ways of dealing with these problems.
Majella said since moving to Donegal in 2002 to join husband Daniel O’Donnell, she has grown to love the place and the people.
“The Donegal people are very honest, genuine and hard working. Donegal is a remote county that has suffered more than its fair share from unemployment, depression and suicide.
“My aim is to be able to help people throughout the county to help themselves be more positive and hopeful and to find ways to deal with everyday life which can be very tough especially for those who are isolated or living alone,” she said.
Majella has previously spoken out about her own battle with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Majella explains, ‘At the moment we are running a Stress Control Programme which is a practical six-week course that can teach ways to relieve stress in our lives.
“The courses are funded by Donegal Mind Wellness and are free of charge to everyone. Our aim is to make Stress Control as accessible as possible to everyone throughout Donegal.’
The launch of the Donegal Mind Wellness will take place in the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny on Monday next, December 15th at noon.
Majella O’Donnell has admitted she first thought her singer husband would be boring and quiet.
But all that changed when they met at her parent’s pub in Tenerife and Daniel asked her out!
Majella reveals all about their initial meeting in her new autobiography ‘It’s All In The Head’ which is released next weekend.
Majella said “I wasn’t into his music and had never seen him perform, so I suppose I had some misconceptions about what he would be like.
“From what I has seen and heard of him myself, I thought he would be quiet and quite boring. I thought the type of music he was into meant that we would have nothing in common.”
But she revealed that they got on like a house on fire when they first met at her parent’s bar and he immediately asked her to join him the next night at a well-known bar called Bobby’s in Tenerife.
“This surprised me, as Bobbys was a nightclub and really didn’t start until one o’clock in the morning. I thought to myself that I had to see this: Daniel O’Donnell in Bobbys.
“At this stage, I didn’t have any thought of Daniel in a romantic way. I just didn’t think it was on the cards.
“I thought he was a lovely guy and very funny, which surprised me, but I was a divorced mother of two children, I didn’t think he would be interested in me,” added Majella.
She even thought that because she drank it might put him off her.
But none of that matters to Daniel. He really does live and let live. He has always allowed me to be the person I am and has never tried to change anything about me. It also helps that he has a great sense of humour,” she said.
Majella O’Donnell is to return to the Late Late Show to launch her official autobiography.
The book, ‘It’s All In The Head’, will be officially released on October 9th.
And Majella will tell host Ryan Tubridy all about the book when she appears on Ireland’s biggest chatshow that evening.
It will be an emotional return for Majella who in September last appeared on the show to have her head shaved for the Irish Cancer Society.
There was a huge public response to Majella’s appearance and she managed to raise more than €600,000 for the cancer group.
The book begins with her childhood in the 1960s, growing up in a small town in Ireland, her early love of music and dreams of a future full of hope and excitement, only to be dashed by a broken marriage and an uphill battle with depression.
Her confidence and self-esteem at a low ebb, Majella decided to take charge of her own life and make a fresh start.
The book then reveals that destiny lent a hand when she met Daniel O’Donnell, and their marriage in 2002 brought her immense happiness and fulfilment.
It was a decade or so later that tragedy struck, with the diagnosis of her breast cancer.
The book’s publisher describes it as “the compelling story of a woman made extraordinary by the courage with which she faced her greatest challenge.”