DANA Walks St. Patrick's Way in Downpatrick

DANA Walks St. Patrick's Way in Downpatrick


Press Release from The Saint Patrick Centre: Irish singing star DANA led a 31-strong pilgrimage on St. Patrick's Way, walking in the footsteps of the saint who inspired her new song.

DANA, a Eurovision winner who has had a string of hits, said she had long wanted to walk the pilgrim way in Downpatrick. “It was a beautiful experience," she said.

The weekend walk was organized by The Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, the world's only permanent exhibition to St. Patrick.

The Camino experience included an IMAX film on St. Patrick, a walk to Inch Abbey, built in 1177, and a visit to Saul Church, where St. Patrick begin his mission in 432AD.

At Saul, DANA shared how her new song was inspired by the events of 433AD when St. Patrick lit the Easter fire at Slane.

Among the pilgrims walking with DANA was a woman who had sang with DANA on stage when she was a child of eight.

One of the pilgrims, Karen Mawhinney, said it was both inspiring and spiritual. "I'm so glad I was one of the 31."

Dr. Tim Campbell, centre director, said it was indeed a "memorable day."

"It was one of our joyful days on St. Patrick's Way," said Dr. Tim Campbell, centre director. "It's one of the last official walks of the season and we look forward to many more joining us on St. Patrick's Way in Downpatrick, Newcastle and Rostrevor in 2024."

"St. Patrick's Way is going from strength to strength as groups and individuals sign up for a passport to adventure in the footsteps of St. Patrick."

DANA walked with pilgrim guides Martina Purdy and Elaine Kelly.

Ms. Kelly said the pilgrimage was a “fantastic response by the walkers to the invitation to walk St. Patrick's Way with DANA.”

“The feedback from the walkers was amazing. They loved it. DANA is a humble lady and a pleasure to walk with. One of the highlights was hearing DANA speak about her new song Light the Fire and actually hear it played in the cradle of Christianity at Saul Church.”

Ms. Purdy said DANA helped bring the story of Patrick to life because faith is so important to her. “When we walk St. Patrick’s Way, we find that people really bond and there is a lot of laughter and we could not have asked for better weather to see some of the most beautiful parts of St. Patrick’s country."

DANA was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a gift from The Saint Patrick Centre gift shop by duty manager Chloe Stevenson.

As she thanked everyone, she insisted she didn’t need anything as the walk itself was a gift. “I’ve long wanted to do this.”

DANA spent the weekend in Downpatrick and also spoke and sang Light the Fire at Down Cathedral on Sunday.

DANA and her husband Damien also  attended a group service on Sunday at Down Cathedral, comprising churches from within the Lecale Area Missionary Partnership.

DANA was invited to the cathedral by Dean Henry Hull when he heard she was coming to Downpatrick on pilgrimage. 

DANA spoke to the congregation about how the song for St. Patrick was years in the making, after a suggestion from her late brother-in-law Fr. Kevin Scallon.

She said she recorded the song on February 1, St Brigid’s Day, after Dr Campbell invited her to launch it at The Saint Patrick Centre in time for St Patrick’s Day.

The Rev. Adrian Dorrian provided the voice of St. Patrick in the opening lines of the original recording and on Sunday, standing on the altar, repeated his lines, “I am Patrick, a sinner…” as Dana began to sing.

DANA was welcomed to the by Dean Hull and congratulated on her new song by guest speaker the Reverend Greg Downes, director of Kingfisher Ministers, and the Bishop of Down and Dromore, The Right Reverend David McClay.

Bishop McClay said that before he heard of the song, he was himself inspired to have a special initiative and light a fire in honor of the Christian faith at Down Cathedral next St. Patrick’s Day.

“You, DANA,” he said, “may not yet realize just how important your song is.”

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Archbishop Eamon Martin is to celebrate mass on World Youth Day at Slane, in a Light the Fire of faith service featuring Sr Briege McKenna and Eurovision’s Dana.

In the Spirit of World Youth Day, pilgrims from across Ireland are invited to join Patrick’s successor, Archbishop Eamon Martin, at the Hill of Slane, County Meath on August 6th for rosary, mass, and healing service.

One of Ireland’s most famous singer songwriters Dana will sing her new song, Light the Fire, an anthem inspired by St Patrick, who famously lit the Easter fire at Slane in 433AD in defiance of King Laoire.

The Paschal candle will also be lit as part of the ceremony on the Feast of the Transfiguration as pilgrims pray for a renewal of faith in Ireland.

Archbishop Eamon Martin recalled St Patrick’s own experience as he prepared for this event: “Sometimes we forget that St Patrick came first to Ireland as a frightened teenager, forced into slavery. He knew he was a sinner, but he grew to know and love God through prayer and sacrifice. The light of faith will be kept alive and spread and renewed in Ireland in families that pray and from young person to young person - as Dana’s new song puts it: lighting the flame of faith in their own hearts and in the hearts of others!”

“I look forward very much to celebrating the Eucharist on the Hill of Slane on World Youth Day, and praying for the young people of Ireland - that they may kindle in their hearts a love for Jesus Christ and become ambassadors for Christ all around the island of Ireland.”

Poor Clare, Sr Briege McKenna,  who is famous for her ministry to priests and her healing ministry, will be accompanied by Fr Pablo Escriva de Romani. Fr Pablo has ministered in numerous countries, including pro-life and youth work and retreats in war zones.  He now also works with Sr Briege in their worldwide ministry of Intercession for Priests. They will speak and conduct the Eucharistic Healing service .

During their recent Parish Mission in St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Sr Briege described Dana’s song, Light the Fire, as a gift of the Holy Spirit to light the flame of faith in everyone’s hearts. And Sr Briege added that one of the fastest ways to light that flame,  to learn how to pray and to grow holiness was through the Eucharist.

The initiative has been welcomed by parish priest at Slane, Fr Richard Matthews.

“The Hill of Slane is a significant and dare I say foundational place which we are so fortunate to have in our parish.”

Dana said: “Buses are already filling up  and I  hope every diocese in Ireland will send parishioners to pray for a blessing for Ireland and that the flame of faith, lit by St Patrick so long ago, will continue to burn brightly again in our hearts and minds.

“This new song, inspired by St Patrick, came about after encouragement from my brother-in-law Fr Kevin Scallon, who founded the Intercession for Priests in Ireland in the mid-1970s and who with Sr Briege McKenna ministered to priests t through the world for more than forty-five years, until his death in 2014.”

“This song reminds me, and I hope others, “The song was launched in Downpatrick on St Patrick’s Day but it is a song for all year round and for all people everywhere who yearn for God’s light, the light of faith in a darkness.”

Contact organisers via email on if you wish to help organise a bus, put up a poster, or promote on social media or book an media interview.


Chris Cugini
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DANA Releases Light the Fire in Honor of St. Patrick on Monday, March 13

DANA Releases Light the Fire in Honor of St. Patrick on Monday, March 13

Canton, Ohio (03/09/2023) – Described as an anthem for today, Light The Fire (St Patrick’s Song), written and recorded by Dana, recalls how St. Patrick lit the fire on the ancient hill of Slane in 433AD, in defiance of King Laoire at Tara.

The song will be released Monday, March 13 in St. Patrick's Center, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, just days before marking the saint’s feast. It will then be launched March 16 at a special concert event in the Knock Shrine Basilica, Co. Mayo, Ireland, near to where St Patrick tended sheep on Croagh Patrick mountain. This celebratory concert can be viewed at

Light the Fire will be available on CD and MP3 at or can be streamed on Dana’s Spotify channel.

“It was more than just a fire,” said Irish music icon, Dana. “St. Patrick was courageous. It could have cost him his life. Those were dark days. They were oppressive. There was human sacrifice. The fire was symbolic of bringing light and bringing an understanding to what was wrong in those days and changing what was wrong from the darkness into light.”

Inspiration for Light the Fire

The inspiration for the song goes back more than a decade when the idea was first suggested to her by her brother-in-law, the late Fr Kevin Scallon CM. He said, “You know, we need a new hymn to St. Patrick for today. Because the message of St. Patrick does not belong to a past generation and it’s not just for Ireland. It’s a message for today and for the whole world."

Light the Fire was recorded with male voices from the Schola Cantorum in St. Peter’s Cathedral Belfast, along with the Rev. Adrian Dorrian, Vicar of Down Cathedral, Church of Ireland, Downpatrick, and John McGrath, one of the worship/band leaders in Down parish.

Saint Patricks' Center in Downpatrick, is located in the town where St. Patrick is buried and near where the saint built his first church. The Centers' Director Dr Tim Campbell said, “It was here in Downpatrick that St. Patrick began his mission. The Centre is renowned for telling the authentic story of Patrick, the slave who found true freedom and whose message of love and faith continues to echo down the centuries. The song has a great message of hope, and we look forward to sharing it both at home [Ireland] and abroad.”

Background on DANA

DANA, co-writer with her husband Damien of the beloved hymn Lady of Knock, rose to popularity when, as a schoolgirl, she became Ireland's first winner of the famous Eurovision Song contest. Her winning song ''All Kinds of Everything'' became a #1 hit, captivating the continent and opening the door to a highly successful music career.

In the 1990’s, Canton’s own Mother Angelica invited DANA to sing on her Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). She later become a television host on the network with her own popular shows “Say Yes”, ''We are One Body'', ''Back Stage'' and “Dana and Friends”.

At the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver CO, DANA sang her self-composed hit “We Are One Body.” for Pope John Paul II. She would later sing at World Youth Day celebrations in Rome (2000), Toronto (2002) and Sydney (2008) and in NY Yankee Stadium welcoming Pope Benedict on his US visit.

In 1997, she entered politics in her home country, as a candidate for the Irish presidency in 1997 and again in 2011. Scallon was elected as a member of the European Parliament in 1999, where she upheld the Irish Constitutional protection of Life and Family. 


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