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17th Oct 2023

Dolly Parton has beautiful interaction with Irish mother in surprise Liveline interview

Simon Kelly

Dolly Parton Liveline

Talk to Jolene.

As we all know, RTÉ’s Liveline is no stranger to getting the country talking with its – sometimes outrageous – conversations going on daily, but rarely does it bring on a guest of the magnitude it did on Tuesday, October 17, when legendary country icon Dolly Parton joined the show.

The 77-year-old singer came on the airwaves to chat to Katie Hannon about her connection to Ireland through her philanthropy and her adoration for the late, great Sinéad O’Connor.

Hannon highlighted that Parton’s book scheme, Imagination Library has donated thousands of books to children in Ireland after it was introduced to the country in 2019.

Children who sign to the scheme can receive a book a month addressed to them, at no cost to the family and are aimed at helping the child’s development at an early age.

Started up in 1995, Imagination Library just last year surpassed 2 million books mailed to children worldwide.

Dolly Parton has beautiful interaction with Irish mother on Liveline

Near the end of the interview, Hannon opened up the lines to allow listeners to chat to Dolly. A caller named Sandra was brought on the air to give her thanks to the singer about the scheme and let listeners know how important the books have been for her 3-year-old daughter.

“She’s getting post, it’s in her name, it’s personal to her. You know, she’s so small, she’s getting a gift.

“I don’t think I could express how thankful I am for receiving that gift and for her, I don’t think she’d be able to either. There’s no words to describe how thankful we are for what she’s done.”

Dolly replied by saying: “I have to say that touches my heart because that’s what I hope to do. And I know the little kids do love it, like you said, it’s personal to them.

“And I think if it’s got their name on it, they’re gonna get that little book and they’re gonna make somebody sit down with them to help them read. So you don’t need to thank me, that was plenty of thanks just knowing that these kids are loving it.”

Dolly Parton Imagination Library Ireland

Sandra went on to say that her other children weren’t that interested in books, however Dolly’s book scheme really helped her daughter to pick up reading.

“I think she’s more into them because of that,” she told the country singer. “The fact that she’s getting them posted and she’s going to know where they came from and who gave them to her.”

“Well, that’s the book lady [who is posting them]. I’m the book lady,” Dolly replied.

“I think that anything that will draw a child’s attention to a book and if it’s got something they’re interested in, they’re going to want, like you say, turn it upside down, look at the pictures and do all that. But soon as they get older, like you said, they’re gonna want to know what that says.

“I’m happy that it works out well for you. And you tell [your daughter] that the book lady said a very special hello.”

Dolly Parton pays tribute to Sinéad O’Connor

During the interview, Parton also spoke about the late Sinéad O’Connor, saying, “I always felt connected to her. She was very, very sweet. And I hated to hear she was gone.

“And I know she had a hard life but in her music you could tell all she went through, and sometimes that’s what makes the best singers – people that lived what they’re singing about. Nothing Compares 2 U is one of my favourite songs… I just loved that version of it.”

Hannon also referred to O’Connor’s cover version of Parton’s version of ‘Dagger Through My Heart’, with Parton saying, “I was surprised she did that. I wrote that song back in my teenage years and when I heard she had recorded it, I was really impressed and delighted.”

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