Dana walks St Patrick's Way in Downpatrick
Eurovision winner Dana has led a 31-strong pilgrimage on St Patrick's Way, walking in the footsteps of the saint who inspired her latest song, Light the Fire.
Dana said she had long wanted to walk the pilgrim way in Downpatrick. “It was a beautiful experience," she said.
The weekend walk was organised 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 began 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 Campbell. "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. 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," she said.Dana spent the weekend in Downpatrick and also spoke and sang Light the Fire at Down Cathedral on Sunday.