Music fans in mourning for George Donaldson

Celtic Thunder fans and the world of music in general are in mourning tonight following the death of George Donaldson.

George Donaldson

The Celtic Thunder star suffered a massive heart attack yesterday at his home in Glasgow. He was 46.

Donaldson has a unique place in the hearts of Celtic Thunder fans. He was there from the start and was seen as the rock on which the group was built. He was older than the other band members, married with a family and so more mature and settled.

He was Mr Dependable and the younger members looked up to him for help and for guidance. Something his generous nature was always happy to give.

That guidance was particularly helpful to younger members like Damian McGinty.  Damian said on Twitter: “There are no words that can express my Sadness and Sorrow at the shock Death of my friend George D”.

Success came late for George

Worldwide success with Celtic Thunder came relatively late for George and it made him appreciate it all the more. George didn’t have it easy in his early life. He was from a family of nine children and was brought up in a tough area in the east end of Glasgow.

He inherited his love of music from his father but was a self-taught musician. He had to do it all the hard way.

He quickly established himself as one of Scotland’s best singer songwriters on the local folk circuit and became one of the main performers at his beloved Jinty McGinty’s club in Glasgow.

He was well into his late 30s when he heard about auditions for an unusual new band being put together by Sharon Browne. The idea was to bring together the best young singers from Celtic backgrounds and then mould them into a tight unit that fused traditional folk with classic pop to produce something totally new and different and magical.

George being a modest sort of man never really expected to be selected but to his great surprise he sailed through the auditions. He became one of the mainstays of the band as it went from success to stupendous success, as hit record followed hit record and sell out tours gave way to even bigger and more spectacular shows.

The sense of surprise never really left George though. He sometimes gave the impression that he couldn’t believe all this was happening to him…a boy from the east end of Glasgow.

His success was no surprise to his fans though. They admired his talent, of course, but more importantly, they loved his warmth and generosity, together with the engaging down to earth attitude that never left him.

Even as Celtic Thunder were selling out major venues across the world, George was still happy to get up and perform in front of a handful of people at Jinty’s as he had always done. And he always had time to chat and pose for pictures with fans.

Celtic Thunder are an unusual band in that they seem to have a unique relationship with their fans… together they form something of an extended family. Tonight that family is in mourning having lost a much loved member.

RIP George Donaldson.

George Donaldson page
Surprise success

George Donaldson videos
Irish Music Daily tribute to George Donaldson
Music stars pay tribute to George Donaldson
Singers main page

By Patrick Kehoe

Pat Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily. His favourite Irish music bands are the Dubliners and Planxty.