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I remember when … the Pope came to Ireland June 24, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in I remember when ....

My abiding memory of Pope John Paul II coming to Ireland in 1979, is looking out the back window of my aunt’s car as we drove away from my parents, feeling really upset that I couldn’t go with them. I hadn’t a clue what all the fuss was about – I just knew people were excited and that I wasn’t allowed in on it !

We’re still talking about it. Some people have even written books on the subject. Never has the visit of one man drawn so much attention, warranted and not, and I can remember the days of his visit as if it was yesterday. I can’t remember anything about the actual visit and the praying and all that lark but I remember the excitement more so than anything. I might just as well have been going on a foreign holiday – all I knew was that we were going to Dublin and something was in the air.

Strange then, that I was only 4 years old but I suppose that an occassion of great excitement and activity would burn itself into your memory more so than a trip to the seaside (that ended in your ice cream falling onto the beach and you still attempting to eat most of it !)

The trip ended on a low note for me though, as I now know I never made it to the Phoenix Park. I was landed in my aunt’s care for the day as my parents went off to the park to enjoy themselves … they walked in from Clondalkin ! There’s dedication for you.



1. theswissjob - June 24, 2007

I don’t remember anything about the visit as I was born in June 1979. Just one or two months before he landed. Coincidence? Knowing my parents I think not. I’m part of the Pope generation!

2. GerryOS - June 24, 2007

I had just turned 13 when JP2 arrived in Ireland. I grew up about six miles from Knock, so that’s where we headed when he came here.

My Dad, being a practical type, designed a lightweight seat for the day, fashioned from a few lengths of white deal, some carpet we had lying around and a few screws and tacks. Myself and my brothers made them up, and off we set on the day, our lightweight seats over our shoulders, and our hang sangwidges in our school lunchboxes. There was no point even trying to drive there, so we walked the six miles.

We got to Knock and a steward gave us a sticker each with “G7” on them, and said to us to go to the sector of the same name. So we did, but unfortunately it was nearly in Claremorris. We were miles away, and it was a dirty, murky, drizzly day, so we got to see very little. Anyway, we were just about to settle ourselves in, rest our weary bodies on our lightweight seats, and get stuck into the hang sangwidges, when my Dad spotted an elderly neighbour of ours standing nearby. Me, being the youngest, was given a clip around the lug and told “Get up out of that and let Tom sit down!”, and so I had to sit on my fist for the day.

The mass itself was a surreal experience. There was a severe echo in the PA system, so we got to hear very little of what Il Papa had to say. Then it would stop for applause. So we would applaud, as we felt it was the thing to do. It was a bit like the “Blessed Are The Cheesemakers” scene in “The Life of Brian”.

And don’t get me started about the toilets…

It’s hard to believe that it is so long ago, almost thirty years, and still it is so fresh in my mind.

3. Rambling Man - June 25, 2007

its funny the way people remember stuff – i mean i dont remember the event but i remember the excitment in the air and weird things about it. what makes us remember that kind of stuff and not other stuff (i.e. like the Pope himself !)

4. Hangar Queen - July 1, 2007

I have some vivid memories of when he came to Limerick..the 4am bus ride,the hawkers and their home made telescopes,stepping on some eejit in a sleeping bag trying to sleep in a field with 250,000,A lift on to a shoulder and the briefest glimpse of the man himself,the long walk home,crossing a stream on a plank and best of all the souvenir scarves with ‘Vive Il Pape” on them.
There is still one at the mother’s house.

5. Rambling Man - July 1, 2007

scarves ? seriously ? i really missed out on those

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