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.”