Derry people this week shared their memories of the time almost 50 years ago when Dana put the city on the international map by winning the Eurovision Song Contest.
Former schoolfriends and neighbours of the singer were among more than 100 people who came together in the Guildhall to join Dana in a rendition of her winning song ‘All Kinds of Everything’ on Wednesday afternoon.
The Derry singer was clearly delighted by the reception she received as she was led onto the stage of the Guildhall Main stage by Mayor Michaela Boyle.
Waddell Media had issued a call out for local people to come along as part of filming for a documentary about Dana’s Eurovision win to be screened the week before the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest on BBC and RTE.
Among those who turned up was Attracta Bradley, who remembers everyone gathering around the TV to watch Dana (Rosemary Scallon nee Brown) on the night she won the Eurovision in March 1970.
“Her mummy and my mummy were the best of friends and she was at Thornhill the same time that I was,” Attracta said. “She was always a very nice, very genuine person.”
Kathleen Clarke and Nuala Shiels recalled the huge crowds who turned out to welcome Dana home after she became the first Irish entrant to win the European competition. Nuala said: “I remember walking down from Creggan to the back of the flats [Rossville Flats were Dana lived with her family at the time] and it was packed.”
“The spirit of the Bogside was lifted,” said Vincent Coyle, who also recalled that night. “Crowds gathered and for all of us it was something we had achieved - Derry was more than petrol bombs barricades. This young woman had taken on Europe with her voice and put the city on the map. She was the original Derry Girl.”
Fellow former Thornhill pupil Irene Lindsay (nee Kennedy), who had known Dana since she was 12, was living and working in London at the time. She watched the Eurovision on TV. “It was very emotional - we were with a group and everybody was feeling a wee bit homesick. It was a great boost,” she said.
Mayor Boyle, who had welcomed Dana alongside Derry boxing legend, Olympian Charlie Nash, meanwhile said: “This is without doubt one of my highlights so far as Mayor. Dana is such a huge part of Derry’s history. I grew up listening to All Kinds of Everything and it’s a song that will always hold a special place in my heart. My mother always sang it to me, and now I have sung it to my children and grandchildren in turn.”
And Dana told those gathered, “There’s no place in the world that I would rather celebrate 50 years since my Eurovision success. Looking around I can see so many familiar faces. I’m so proud to be here.”