By Ursula Duddy
World-renowned country crooner, Daniel O’Donnell, is coming back to Derry with a host of stars this year.
And he also revealed to the Derry News in an interview at the weekend that the city is always very close to his heart.
The Donegal legend is set to bring a full week of country music to Derry’s Millennium Forum this May from May 13 to May 19, 2018.
Opry le Daniel, TG4’s hit country music series, made by Big Mountain Productions, will be returning to the city to film fourteen shows over seven nights.
The current season which was shot in Derry at the end of the summer is still being aired and has proved an immensely-popular ratings-winner with the Irish language channel. Una Healy, formerly of The Saturdays, was the star of last week's show.
No guests have yet been confirmed for the new series but locals should not be surprised to see some of the top country names - in the world - make an appearance.
The King of Country himself took a break from his hectic schedule - he's also getting ready to film a new series of Daniel and Majella's B&B Road Trip - to tell the Derry News about the upcoming series in Derry. And he revealed that he has a particular soft spot for the city.
“I used to go up to Derry when I was small and I would stay up off Lecky Road at Westland Street,” he said.
“We stayed with relations of ours, Leslie McClintock or Harkin. My mother used to work in Derry when she was young. We have big connections up there.
"During the summer holidays we go back to Derry so it’s long been a holiday destination for me, and over the years I’ve gone back for concerts.
“I used to go to the Rialto over the years and now I come to the Millennium Forum.”
Daniel said that he is excited about bringing the show back to Derry and back to the Millennium Forum: “We did it for a good while in Newry, a number of years, but we’ve moved it to Derry and to the Millennium Forum.
“The Millennium Forum is a lovely venue for the taping of the show; the Millennium Forum is a great benefit to Derry, there’s a lovely atmosphere and the shows did terrific.
“We are looking forward to doing two series there before bringing a close to seven nights and 14 shows.”
He also said that the audience can expect to see a ‘mixture of artists’ both local and international. However, he would not be drawn on which stars will be appearing - and tantalisingly said that final arrangements are being made.
Daniel was keen to point out that Opry Dhoire showcases a host of musical talent, not just his own dulcet tones.
“I present the show and sing a few songs but it’s not all about me!” he smiled.
“But it’s still really nice to record the show back in the Millennium Forum because the show really lends itself to it.”
Opry le Daniel, which is filmed by Big Mountain Productions, also exploits and showcases Derry's many attractions.
Thousands of visitors come from all over Ireland every year both to take in Daniel's concerts and to enjoy the North West experience.
Full details of the special guests for the new seven-night run will be released over Christmas and the New Year. But tickets are already available from the Forum.
Meanwhile, Daniel's Christmas CD and DVD entered the 'UK' Top 40 album charts last week at number 9. The album was recorded at the sold-out concert at Dublin's Convention Centre last December and is on sale now.
B&B owners who might be interested in featuring in Daniel and Majella's show can register their interest on [email protected]
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