NW exodus expected for Pope Francis visit

Pope Francis.
Pope Francis.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to travel from the north west to Dublin to witness the historic visit of Pope Francis this summer.

While the Pope’s full itinerary for his visit to Ireland has not yet been published, there has been suggestions that he is unlikely to come north of the border. However, coachloads of people are expected to travel from Derry, Donegal and Tyrone to the capital in August to see the Pontiff in person.

Bishop of Derry, Dr. Donal McKeown, clergy and lay people from the Derry Diocese will join the 25 other dioceses from across Ireland in supporting the hosting diocese of Dublin in the run-up to the arrival.

Pope Francis’ visit is the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II’s historic arrival back in 1979.

The Holy Father, who is 81 years of age, will arrive in Dublin on Saturday, August 25, and will take part in the ‘Festival of Families’ in Croke Park as part of Ireland hosting the World Meeting of Families. On, Sunday 26, hundreds of thousands of people will gather to see Pope Francis celebrate Holy Mass in Phoenix Park.

In a joint statement, Bishop McKeown and the bishops of Ireland said the visit would be an occasion of “spiritual renewal” for clergy and lay people in Ireland.

They said: “We are deeply honoured that Pope Francis will come to our country to participate in this universal Church celebration of faith and joy, as well as of the contemporary challenges which face families. With great anticipation we also look forward to hearing the apostolic guidance of His Holiness during his stay with us.”

Pope John Paul II came to Ireland on September 29, 1979 and visited Dublin, Drogheda, Clonmacnois, Galway, Knock, Maynooth, Limerick and Shannon.