New week, on 23 September, Ireland’s original Derry-girl (pictured on stage at the Saint Patrick Centre launch of Light the Fire), and Eurovision winner, is to lead a pilgrimage along Saint Patrick’s Way in Downpatrick.
Dana, who recently released a new song, Light the Fire, will walk with pilgrims on the Downpatrick part of Saint Patrick’s Way.
This is a six mile route, designed by the Saint Patrick Centre, that includes the site of Patrick’s first church and Inch Abbey, a 12th century site where the legend of Saint Patrick banishing the snakes was written.
According to Dr Tim Campbell, the director of the centre which the world’s only permanent exhibition to Saint Patrick, “we are thrilled that Dana has agreed to come and walk Saint Patrick’s Way with our guides Martina Purdy and Elaine Kelly. Dana launched her new song as we opened our new exhibition on Saint Patrick in March. We are hoping many pilgrims will join the pilgrimage to walk and talk with Dana who has a great passion for the story of Patrick and the impact he had both here and across the globe.”
Dr Campbell continued, “the pilgrimage is a great opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick and learn about his journey from a poor slave with no faith to a man of faith and a great missionary.”
Dana said she felt drawn to walk in St Patrick’s footsteps on the pilgrim way on 23 September. “I feel it would be a way to get to know him better,” said Dana, “a way to deepen my faith and increase my courage, so that like him, I can stand for and share the faith, hope and love that I believe in.
Dana said that since visiting the Saint Patrick Centre where she first performed Light the Fire in March, she has learned about Saint Patrick ‘the man’, rather than ‘the image’. Dana continued, “I’ve learned that he is truly a saint for today; he suffered human trafficking, lived in abject poverty in a pagan country, where human sacrifice was practised. Yet in this suffering, he found a true relationship with God and after escaping, he found the courage to return and risk his own life to bring faith, hope and love to the oppressed people of Ireland.”
Pilgrim guide Martina Purdy said the draw of Patrick is universal. Martina said, “whether some come for faith, or an adventure, while others come for a walk in the beauty of County Down, all go home refreshed and more aware of who Patrick was.”
Organiser Elaine Kelly added: “This past year we have had pilgrims not just from Ireland and the UK but from as far away as the United States and Korea. So if anyone is up for an adventure in faith, hope and love, do join us for a wonderful challenge and great craic with Dana and Saint Patrick on the 23 September!”
The walking pilgrimage experience is approximately six miles and includes lunch, a pilgrim passport, and guided tours of key sites. The cost is £45 including lunch and transfers and more information is available by contacting the Centre on +44 (0) 2844 619000 or online saintpatrickcentre.com