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George Donaldson – why fans wanted to help his family

A group of dedicated music fans have described whey they were so keen to help the family of the Celtic Thunder star George Donaldson, who died of a heart attack in March.

T-shirt for the Sarah Donaldson Education Fund

T-shirt for the Sarah Donaldson Education Fund

The George Donaldson Street Team (GDST) put T-shirts up for sale, with the proceeds going to help pay for the continued musical education of George’s daughter, Sarah. They consulted George’s Carolyn before going ahead.

They smashed through their initial target within 24 hours and there are still two and a half weeks to go.

Jeanne Smith and Holly Ross of the GDST have told Irish Music Daily why it was so important for them.

Jeanne said: “My husband and I met George in 2009, on Phil Coulter’s Tranquillity Cruise. We booked the cruise to hear George, but became good friends with him during those 10 days.

“In 2011, when he released his first cd, The White Rose, a few other fans and I decided he needed a Street Team to promote his music. Since then, it has grown and flourished. George was behind our team, knew about and appreciated what we did.

“This winter, we were working on a tee shirt to sell, to promote him and his music before the upcoming CT tours. The design (silhouette) on the back came from Holly Ross. He loved the design, and we were discussing donating the proceeds to a worthy cause.

“Sadly, after he passed away suddenly in March, those plans sat idle until we decided to do a different shirt to raise money for Sarah’s education. Sarah is 13, and a gifted violin player. Her music
education was very important to George, so we thought the shirt could raise money for that.

“With Carolyn’s blessing, Maggie Costello and myself worked to make a shirt incorporating Holly’s design, but also remembering George.

“The quote on the back, ‘He opened up my eyes to a new style of song’ is from his original song, A Song for Harry Chapin. Harry was his idol. The rose on the front stands for The White Rose, a song from his first cd, which has become his symbol.

George Donaldson with daughter, Sarah

George Donaldson with daughter, Sarah

“Under the rose are the letters NNGB…which stands for Night Night, God Bless…..George often ended his chats with NNGB, and we fans took it up as well. So it seemed appropriate to add that to his shirt, as we say goodbye to him.

“Our street team is a fabulous group of people. When we arranged this campaign, we did not think about shirts being shipped out of the USA. The company only ships to the US, so fans in other countries have not been able to order.

“Our team members came forward and are offering to help by having shirts sent to them, which they will ship to Canada, Australia, etc. We are very proud of our team members, and I know George would be too.”

Holly Ross who designed the shirts added: “George was my favorite from the start, so being involved with the Street Team was a no-brainer for me. He was a very talented singer-songwriter and loved to give the history of his songs, which I truly appreciate since I am a teacher. “

He was surprised when I told him I used his lyrics to “The White Rose” with my students. They found the story just as powerful as I and would have never known of the story of Sophie Scholl without his song.

“After learning that, he told me that if he could have any other job, it would be that of a teacher. Truth is, through his music, we learned a lot of history!”

There is still plenty of time to buy a T-shirt or make a donation to the campaign. Click here to visit the campaign page.

Written by Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling.
His favourite Irish Music bands are Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.
You can follow him on Twitter and

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