Pope's visit

Pope thrills Dublin crowds during Popemobile tour

 Pat Collins with her sons Lawrence, Noel and Brendan and grandchildren Tilly and Joseph as they await the arrival of Pope Francis on Dublin's Sean McDermott Street. Picture by Rebecca Black, Press Association
Rebecca Black, Press Association

Pope Francis delighted the Dublin faithful when he stopped briefly on a street where his predecessor left followers disappointed almost 40 years ago.

Pat Collins was among those who waited on Sean McDermott Street in 1979 in hopes of catching a glimpse of Pope John Paul II.

"It means so much to me," said Mrs Collins, who was born close to the area which is known as the Gloucester Diamond.

She was one of the first to get married in 1961 in the then newly built Our Lady of Lourdes Church, to a Liverpool man, and then moved to the English city.

But she kept close links with home, and

brought up her three sons to feel connected to Dublin as well as with a strong Christian faith.

In 1979, Pope John Paul II was due to visit Our Lady of Lourdes Church but famously failed to stop when his Popemobile fell behind schedule on its tour of the city.

On Saturday, Mrs Collins was back in Dublin with her sons Lawrence, Noel and Brendan, grandchildren and extended family.

"It's great to be back after 40 years to see Pope Francis come here," Mrs Collins said.

"In 1979 there were benches lined along the street and we all sat here waiting for Pope John Paul II as we were expecting him to stop, but he didn't.

"I have been to Rome twice and never got a glimpse of him.

"But it's far better to see him here at home. It means the world to me, my boys and my grand kids."

Her son Noel was just six when he travelled with his mother to see Pope John Paul II in Dublin in 1979.

He returned on Saturday with his six-year-old daughter Tilly and three-year-old son Joseph.

 Sister Maire McAleer of the Adoration Sisters in Belfast. Picture by Rebecca Black, Press Association

Co Tyrone-born nun Sister Maire McAleer was among those who had travelled from Belfast to see the Pope.

She is a member of the Adoration Sisters based on the Falls Road.

"I saw Pope John Paul twice and Pope Benedict once," she said.

"He (Pope Francis) is a wonderful man.

"We have to remember this event is the World Meeting of Families, it's not just a visit to us, it is a privilege for us to host and to host so many people."

A number of protesters were also on the streets as Pope Francis passed.

He initially used the Skoda car he had been transported in earlier, before transferring to a white Popemobile outside Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

He stopped for a brief meet and greet with well-wishers, shaking hands with flag-waving supporters and kissing children before boarding his Popemobile for a short trip to St Mary's Pro-Cathedral.

 Pope Francis greeting crowds in Dublin city centre. Picture by Aaron Chown, Press Association

The procession of cars swept past the green door of the last Magdalene laundry which closed its door in 1996.

The notorious laundry institutions run by Catholic religious orders effectively incarcerated thousands of young women from troubled backgrounds and forced them to work under harsh conditions.

Will Hamilton threw a pair of baby shoes on the road in front of the pontiff's car.

He is part of the Baby Shoes Remember campaign which wants to see a day each year dedicated to victims and survivors of clerical abuse.

"I threw the baby shoes into the middle of the road, but a Garda picked them up and threw them away," he said.

"They are laced with black ribbon, mourning ribbon, and they are a symbol to unite all the protests against the Pope.

"It's a particular type of ribbon that you use when you have lost someone in your family, mourning ribbon."

A number of the laced baby shoes are set to be displayed at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin on Sunday as the Pope begins mass at Phoenix Park at around 3pm.

Mr Hamilton said there will also be baby shoes displayed in solidarity in a number of cities and towns across Ireland, as well as internationally.


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