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Flash mob – Catholic style – goes viral

By Susan Gately - 09 February, 2017

Neil Swan and Patricia Doogan at St Mary’s Church in Kincasslagh, Donegal

An impromptu ‘flash mob’ rendition of the popular hymn ‘How Great Thou Art’ at a wedding in Donegal has become an internet sensation.

Patricia Doogan, niece of Daniel O’Donnell, married her fiancé last Friday, 3 February 2017 at St Mary’s Church in Kincasslagh in west Donegal. The celebrant was Fr Pat Ward.

After the wedding ceremony, as Fr Pat began to sing the song ‘How Great Thou Art’, a group of well-known Irish singers, men and women, stood up one by one in the congregation to sing a line or two of the beautiful hymn.

As they sang the first chorus, a group of seven men walked to the front of the church and took their places by the priest, facing the bride and groom. Then the women singers began singing the second verse before they too walked to the altar. Finally, the bride’s uncle, Daniel O’Donnell, took his place to the left of the priest and sang the final line.

The bride, dabbing tears from her eyes, was clearly moved by the serenade, at the end of which Fr Pat Ward was heard to say to the standing and applauding congregation: “Flash mob Catholic style!”

The singers included Shawn Cuddy, Tony Allen of Foster and Allen, Derek Ryan, Tony Kenny and, of course, the bride’s uncle, Daniel O’Donnell.

Daniel’s wife, Majella O’Donnell, posted that the newlyweds were completely surprised by the gesture. “Featuring Fr Pat Ward, Shawn Cuddy, Derek Ryan, Fergal Flaherty, John McNichol, Chris O’Donnell, Tony Allen, Tony Kenny, Vicki Kenny, myself, Trionagh Allan and Annette Griffin, Gavin Boyle and Daniel O’Donnell, that’s some line-up. It completely stunned the whole congregation,” she wrote. “What a fantastic memory to have.”

The bride and groom learned afterwards that the performers had not rehearsed beforehand and only planned how they would perform the song as they arrived for the wedding.

Three days later, the video had been viewed over 1.5 million times.

Afterwards, the new Mrs Swan spoke of her astonishment. “It was a total surprise. The only two people who knew were my friend Gavin who was one of the singers and my sister Fiona who was bridesmaid. It was a huge surprise to everyone else at the church,” she told the Irish Independent.

“Apparently there wasn’t an actual rehearsal, just a gathering in the church before the Mass began to discuss it. We had the best day ever and absolutely everybody said that the church was their favourite part of the day,” she said.

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