In advance of the visit of Pope Francis in August, ANNIE MAY HARTE
recalls the Papal visit of John Paul 11 in 1979

When it was announced that Pope Francis would be visiting Ireland in 2018, my mind drifted back to the visit of John Paul II in 1979. At the time, my husband Dessie and myself, were working in the family bar and, despite being busy, we decided to go to Dublin to see the Pope. Our friends Kathleen, Patrick, Peggy and Foncie were also travelling in their cars.

We were taking our young son, Tony, with us; he was seven years old at the time. He looked forward to the great adventure – travelling to Dublin during the night. We had a bed made up for him in the back of the car. We had prepared a picnic to take with us, as we were not sure where we could find a place to eat.

We figured every place would be crowded. We left home after eleven o’clock with my husband driving and the weather was mild. Our only delay was at Aughnacloy, where there was a border check. We were requested to get out of the vehicle while the soldiers searched the car. When they were satisfied that we were not carrying anything suspicious, we were told we could continue on our journey.

We passed through Monaghan, and an hour and a half later, we were approaching Dublin. It was four in the morning when we reached the Phoenix Park. The city was festooned with yellow and white Papal flags. The little terraced houses were decorated from the roof tops right down into the gardens. We were overcome with excitement as we made our way into the Phoenix Park.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own