Will wild man Rory ‘blues rinse’ Mr nice-guy Daniel in Donegal’s star wars?

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Leigh G Banks casts his own vote and tells of a strange encounter with Daniel’s furious fans

In one of the most bizarre battles in popular culture, grandmothers’ favourite Daniel O’Donnell has been pitched against wild man of the blues Rory Gallagher.

The two stars got the most votes when the Donegal Democrat, a historic newspaper in the depths of Ulster, decided to find out who Donegal’s all-time greats are.

And in some ways it’s not surprising that the sugary darling of the blue-rinse brigade Daniel is in the running as Meenbanad, near Donegal, has been his home for decades.

However, Rory Gallagher might have been born in Ballyshannon, less than 20 minutes away, but he spent most of his celebrity life  as a hard-drinking, drug-taking rocker travelling the world.

When he died, aged 47, from complications following a liver transplant he was brought back from London to be buried near his parents in St Oliver’s Cemetery, Ballincollig, Cork.

The Donegal Democrat said that both Daniel and Rory ‘had to come through close battles in their Round of 8 ties’.

Daniel was up against Brian McEniff, a former Gaelic football manager, described as a Gaelic football Godfather-type figure. But Daniel had just had enough to win through.

It was a similar story in Rory’s Round of 8 battle with Moya Brennan, a  singer, songwriter, harpist who is seen as the First Lady of Celtic music.

But also vying for the title of Donegal’s All Time Greats was the enigmatic and lyrical Enya.

Leigh G Banks, editor at the consumerwatchfoundation.com, has predicted that Rory should come in as the posthumous victor  after he revealed the hilarious story of how Daniel’s fans demanded he should be sacked after he was sent to review one of Irish crooner’s concerts in the summer of 2000.

He said: “I was a music reviewer on a UK morning paper and was sent to a Daniel O’Donnell concert. They sent me because they knew I’d hate it and that would be reflected in my review.

“And it was – I  basically said that Daniel was so middle-of-the-road he should be run over! His fans went wild and threatened all sorts of mayhem against me … the editor even had letters demanding I was sacked, which was a bit worrying as I hadn’t realised he was a big Daniel O’Donnell fan himself…”

Leigh wrote this response to Daniel’s fans: “Daniel’s fans are out to get me, no doubt about it.
And it’s all because I said how nice he is.
I can’t retract it. I can’t say I’m sorry because I do think he’s nice. In fact, I think he is so nice that it is sickening.
You see, if there is any sociological value to a concert review then all I was trying to say, in a light-hearted manner, was that ‘average’ in any field is a dangerous thing – and as far as I am concerned, Daniel is an average purveyor of average songs.
Dare I say again I basically think of him as an artist of hidden shallows.
That’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it.
On an anthropological level, what is so insidious is the fact that his nice fans seem to celebrate tweeness and uniformity…
It should actually be immoral to pursue this life-style!
And that is what I don’t like – it’s not Daniel himself but what I feel he represents, the emptiness of the middle-classes.
Daniel is patently not another Van Morrison.
But he serves a purpose for the members of his blue-rinse army, yet if they think it’s so nice to be nice then why are they being so vitriolic about 200 words that appeared in a newspaper and poked fun at an icon?
It actually said: ‘And at the end of the day he is particularly popular, some people even say he is a phenomena.’
It also said: ‘As it is, I find it difficult to describe it as an act. And yet somehow it works for fans he seems to know by name.’
I think that’s fair comment.
There are  actually all sorts of things I could have said, but then I’m just too nice.”


So, well done to the Donegal Democrat for asking the question who are the all-time greats – but as an old-style rocker my fingers are crossed that Ol’ Rory will ring The Three Bells out of that very nice man Daniel.

Results should revealed on Friday.

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