Val Doonican – from music halls to TV star

Val Doonican. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Val Doonican was one of the most popular television stars in Ireland and the UK in the 1960s and 70s. He was known for his mellow voice and boyish Irish charm.Val Doonican. Image copyright Ireland CallingDoonican was born in Waterford on 3 February in 1928. He started his career as a singer touring Irish dance halls. He was regularly featured on Irish radio and appeared in Waterford’s first television broadcast. In 1951, he moved to England and joined a group called the Four Ramblers.
The band toured Britain supporting Anthony Newley who was a major star at the time. Newley recognised the potential in Doonican’s vocal style and relaxed manner. With Newley’s encouragement, Doonican went solo and quickly established himself as one of the UK’s most popular entertainers.

Doonican’s TV show lasted 20 years

He hosted his own show on BBC television for more than 20 years. He sang a variety of songs and ballads and had five top ten albums in succession. Although he liked to sing modern songs by contemporary writers, he is perhaps best remembered for his performances of old Irish music hall comic numbers such as Paddy McGinty’s Goat and Delaney’s Donkey.
Val Doonican died on 2nd July 2015 in his nursing home in Buckinghamshire. He had not been ill, but his daughter said his “batteries had just run out”.
Here’s Val Doonican singing O’Rafferty’s Motor Car – they don’t make them like this anymore.

Delaney’s Donkey from his popular The Val Doonican Music Show 1982

Paddy McGinty’s Goat

The Jarvey was a Leprechaun (a jarvey is a cart driver) – a mysterious tale where ‘Galway is frozen in July’!

Walk Tall

A more serious song – The Windmills Of Your Mind


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