Daniel O'Donnell lifts spirits at Cork funeral of his 'biggest fan' with graveside song

Kind-hearted star surprised Innishannon family by singing over the phone at their mother's funeral
Daniel O'Donnell lifts spirits at Cork funeral of his 'biggest fan' with graveside song

Margaret McCarthy and her daughter Catherine Mullaney with Daniel O’Donnell

Mourners at a lockdown funeral in West Cork have spoken of receiving a massive lift in their spirits after Daniel O'Donnell surprised them by singing over the phone at their mother's graveside.

Ann Phayer said that her mother Margaret McCarthy, of Innishannon, who died in Marymount Hospice in Cork last Sunday, was a huge fan of the Donegal singer.

Her husband Jimmy and the family used to joke that there was "three in the marriage" with mother of four Margaret attending as many of his concerts as she could in addition to buying his calendars and music.

A friend of the family got in touch with Daniel to see if he would put up a message of condolence on the pensioner's death notice.

Ann said his tribute on Rip.ie had created a great buzz in the town. However, then Daniel went one step further and rang her sister Catherine to discuss the passing of her mother whom he remembered as having a great smile.

The late Margaret McCarthy with Daniel O’Donnell
The late Margaret McCarthy with Daniel O’Donnell

Ann said that while lockdown funerals can be bleak, they were already feeling a tremendous sense of gratitude after her mother "stopped traffic" when the hearse containing her coffin made its way up the village Main Street.

The street was lined with friends as neighbours who turned out for a socially distanced farewell.

The plan was that Daniel's song 'Beyond the Rainbow's End' would be played at the graveside at the funeral on Wednesday.

Ann says Daniel, who was watching the live stream of the Mass, did one better following a quick call to undertaker Robert Gabriel.

"I had said to my brothers to make sure we had this Daniel song on at the graveside.

It is a very poignant song about dying.

"Daniel had put up the condolence and then he rang my sister which was fabulous. We were all shocked when the undertaker said that they had the man himself. I think she (Margaret) was there looking down on us. It lightened the moment.

"It was very sombre and then it was up very uplifting when Daniel rang and sang. It was very emotional.

"We knew what was coming with my mother but we didn't think it was going to come so fast. The funeral was lovely."

Margaret said after he sang Daniel asked to speak to her father Jimmy and the two shared a special moment on the phone.

"He had a few words with my father afterwards. Daniel said 'Is that Jimmy?' He knew his name and everything which was lovely. 

In the eulogy I said that there were "three people in the marriage", Daniel being the third. 

"My father accepted her love for Daniel. It was a bit of fun.

"My parents would have been 55 years married this September. He (Jimmy) was very emotional when he saw the condolence on RIP from Daniel (and Majella). He couldn't believe it. Then he found out that Daniel rang my sister. And then the graveside call. He was very good to the family."

Ann adds that her mother, who died after a short illness, was a warm and loving mother and grandmother of 11.

"She was bubbly and full of fun. She loved the craic. She loved the family and the grandchildren and music and singing.

"She loved Daniel from the start of his career. If Daniel came on the Late Late or something I would ring and tell her or if she saw it she would ring saying 'Daniel is on the telly.' She was mad about him. He is such a nice person. This was so kind of him.

If my mother had gotten a phone call from Daniel when she was alive she would nearly have fainted! We are very grateful to him. It was very uplifting."

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