Dónal was educated as a member of the Schola Cantorum in St Finian’s College Mullingar and at University College Dublin. He is a highly regarded choral director and music educator.
Dónal moved to Derry in 1982 where he was appointed Organist and Choir Master in St Eugene’s Cathedral and Head of Music in St Columb’s College. From 1992-2000 he was co-founder and joint artistic director of the Two Cathedrals’ Festival in Derry and subsequently established the City of Derry Civic Choirs in 1997. He was appointed Head of Music Services for the Western Region in 1996 and assumed responsibility for the Southern Region in 2011. He was seconded from the Education Boards in 2013 to oversee the delivery of the Music Promise initiative, as part of the inaugural UK City of Culture programme in Derry/Londonderry. He established the City of Derry International Choral Festival in the same year, attracting guest artists of the calibre of Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, The King’s Singers, Latvian Voices and The Swingle Singers.
As Director of the internationally recognised chamber choir Codetta, Dónal has worked with conductors Sakari Oramo, Vasily Petrenko, David Robertson and Simon Halsey as part of the BBC Proms series in London. The choir also performs regularly with the Ulster Orchestra, and has given many broadcasts on national radio and television.
Following several exciting artistic collaborations with Barry Douglas and Camerata over recent years, including the premier performance of ‘At Sixes and Sevens’ by Mark-Anthony Turnage in Derry and Beethoven’s ‘Christus am Olberge’ in Spain, Dónal is delighted to be involved currently as Choir Director of the visionary and ground-breaking Harmony North project in Belfast. Both Codetta and the Harmony North choir will perform as part of the prestigious Embassy Series of concerts and in the Kennedy Centre, Washington DC in May 2016.