For the first time since they co-wrote what has become the Relay for Life Donegal theme song eight years ago, Daniel O’Donnell and Marc Roberts will perform it together as part of the virtual Relay being staged this weekend.
Backed by the inspirational Survivors Choir, “I’ll See This Journey Through’ will form a key component of Relay 2021 which will feature a host of stars, both local and national, and the traditional events such as the Luminaria ceremony.
This week, Daniel, the patron of Relay for Life Donegal, took the time to reflect on the importance of the event and on his and wife, Majella’s own path on that journey.
It was Bernie Gallagher from Mullaghduff, herself a survivor of cancer, who introduced the singer to the Relay for Life initiative.
“I had no real knowledge of Relay and she was able to fill me in its fund-raising activities and how it raised awareness and contributed to research.”
In 2012, as he thought of the survivors and carers, Daniel was getting into his bed one night when words somehow filtered into his mind and the lyrics of a song began to surface in his consciousness.
“Just say I can, I will, I must, I’ll see this journey through,” the lyrics offered hope and inspiration.
“Majella asked me what was I doing and I told her I was writing a song for Relay.”
And so it came to pass and the song that has now become the definitive theme for Relay for Life, ‘I’ll See This Journey Through”, took hold.
And with Daniel’s good friend, Marc Roberts, who represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1997,supplying the musical element to it, there was a hit on their hands, and more significantly, a beautiful and inspiring song to help aid the Relay cause.
“And then in 2013, the song became our own journey,” Daniel reflects on the year when Majella was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She got the all-clear in August of that year but only after a deeply trying time for herself, Daniel and the family.
From then on, “I’ll See This Journey Through” became as much a personal song for the couple as it did the theme for all touched by the cancer journey.
“I suppose it’s about how some people don’t know what to say to people with cancer and how sometimes they say nothing and sometimes they say too much.”
Daniel views the song as a tribute to all those who have come into contact with cancer, patients, survivors, and carers.
A tribute to people who have undergone the journey and the more and more people for whom it is not the end.
And with research a significant factor in Relay for Life and the Irish Cancer Society, the thousands upon thousands of euro raised over the years since the inception of Relay have boosted that research and led to continually improved rates of survival for cancer patients.
Daniel indeed takes every opportunity to highlight the vital importance of such efforts.
“Because of research, so many people are surviving cancer and will continue to,” he says.
As patron, the Kincasslagh born performer has attended several of the Relay for Life events and while there will be no physical gathering this year at the LYIT campus, there will still be a powerful on-line presence.
“The Relay committee have done fantastic work since the event started in 2012 and it’s a tribute to them that they have managed to organise a virtual event during this time of Covid.
“So many people do so much work like this and it often goes unrecognised and they don’t get thanked for it so I feel it’s always important to highlight what they do and acknowledge it.”
Daniel and Marc will perform “I’ll See This Journey Through’ along with the Survivors Choir on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, a line-up of top country stars will be performing between the hours of 8.p.m. and 11.p.m. while the Luminaria ceremony will also be staged virtually.
On Sunday morning, the Gospel Hour and Ecumenical Service will be held while Tommy Rosney will later in the day host a Relay country jamboree.
Over the past few months, thirty teams have been busy gathering money through various events while proceeds can also be donated to: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/RelayForLife-Donegal