Donegal singing star Margo O’Donnell has asaid dmitted that she was an alcoholic from the moment she took her very first drink in 1974.
The 69-year-old country music star battled drink and drugs for ten years as her career reached dizzying heights.
“I was an alcoholic. I had a fear of the stage and I thought I had found my crutch,” she said.
“There was always a reason for lifting the glass until there was no reason and it was either the glass or me.
“It was a very lonely, stupid period.”
Her addiction, she said, spiralled out of control when she was jilted by her fiancé. As her marriage plans shattered, Margo ‘panic bought’ her first home in an attempt to mend her broken heart.
Margo opened up about these dark days in an interview for RTE’s Keys to My Life, which airs tonight (Sunday).
The programme traces back through memories of Margo’s tumultuous life and the places she called home, from Fishermans Cottage in Kincasslagh to Ballinteer, Dublin, where her brother Daniel stayed with her as she helped him launch his music career.
Margo reveals how she tried to deal with her heartache and addiction while living her own house in Dublin, which she bought for 32,000 punts.
“It was a time in my life when I needed to get things together.
“I had just come out of a broken relationship and to be honest with you, if I wasn’t so modest, he left me, he jilted me.
“My pride was hurt. You know, how could this fella do this to me? Then you know, the wedding fell through so I just probably finding a place to find myself,” she said.
Margo eventually went to rehab and bravely overcame her additions.
She has since reunited with Daniel, after they were estranged years ago, and he will feature in Keys to My Life as they take a trip down memory lane.
But the sad death of their father Francis is still something that Margo struggles with, she said.
Margo said that her life was turned upside down when her father passed away suddenly at the age of 49. Before he died, he said: “I want you to promise you will look after mam and the wee ones”.
Margo, aged 12 at the time, took on responsibility for her family and began performing, even though she never liked the limelight. She said she ‘destroyed’ herself trying to carry out that promise to her father.
“That’s the road we decided I would go. I didn’t have a choice – 100 pound a week that time was a lot of money,” she said.
“If my father had lived I wouldn’t have done this.
“My dream was always marriage, settling down and kids and a nice home.”
Tonight’s programme will bring Margo back to Donegal, where it all began, and chart her life story up to her home base at ‘Margo Mansions’ in Glenamaddy.
Keys To My Life airs on RTE One at 8.30pm.