An empty concert seat will be reserved in memory of Daniel O’Donnell’s late mother Julia as the singer returns tonight to the venue that gave him his first big break.
Daniel and his band will board a car ferry in his native Co Donegal for a sold-out show at Early’s Bar on Arranmore Island.
The 52 year old returns there nearly every year as a token of his appreciation for the support the Early family gave him at the start of his musical career.
The Irish Examiner reports that tonight’s event will be the first show the singer has given on the island in three years. It will also be the first since the death in May of his beloved mother Julia, 94, who was born on nearby Owey Island and was a regular attendee at the Arranmore concerts.
“This will be a hugely emotional night for all of us,” said bar owner, Jerry Early. His parents Mary and Andrew were among the first to spot the young singer’s potential in the early 1980s before he shot to worldwide fame.
It was also on Arranmore that Daniel, then in his 20s, first experienced the thrill of a packed house.
An intimate gathering of some 170 fans will file into the hall for this evening’s gig at 9pm.
“Julia always came to the concerts and we’re planning to reserve an empty seat in her memory. She always sat in a wee corner at the back,” added Mr Early.
He said Daniel was bringing his full production to the island for the first time.
“The pipe band will meet them at the pier and will pipe them up to the venue,” he added.
“The fact that this is the only concert Daniel is doing in Ireland this year apart from Killarney is a huge, huge honour for us.
“We’re humbled that Donegal’s most famous and favourite son is coming back to the island and we’re proud to call him one of our own.”