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Visitor numbers to Dublin National Wax Museum swell since Pope Francis visit

General manager of the National Wax Museum in Dublin Ed Coleman with a model of Pope Francis Picture by Niall Carson/PA
Michelle Devane

The papal visit to Ireland has ended up being a blessing for one well-known Dublin tourism spot.

Visitor numbers to the National Wax Museum Plus have swelled since Pope Francis made his historic visit in August.

National Wax Museum Plus general manager Ed Coleman said everyone wanted a selfie with Pope Francis.

The museum has positioned the life-like waxwork next to the chair from the refurbished 1979 Popemobile.

"You can sit in Pope John Paul II's chair beside Francis or stand beside Pope Francis and get your photograph taken with him," Mr Coleman said.

Just days before the Pontiff visited Ireland, the museum unveiled a waxwork of him and the refurbished Popemobile used by John Paul II during his historic visit to Ireland in 1979.

Crowds gathered on O'Connell Street as the popemobile took to the streets with the waxwork of the popes on board.

"We weren't expecting the reaction that we got from [it]," Mr Coleman said.

"We made so many people's days when we brought Pope Francis out on to the street. So many people were stopping by and getting photos done."

And the pope is not the only major attraction in the museum.

"We have Donald Trump on the other side of the room," Mr Coleman said.

He said the controversial US president was also proving popular with the public.

"Love him or hate him, everyone wants to have their photo taken with him. Some people pose with their thumbs up, some people pose with their thumbs down," he said.

"It sparks emotion and that's what we're trying to do.

"We want people to be immersed in the wax museum. We don't want people to manhandle [the waxworks] but we want people to get up close, put their arm around the wax figure, even give them a kiss."

Mr Coleman described trading during the month of October as "unprecedented".

"We weren't expecting it to be as high as it was," he said.

"We saw a massive spike and we had almost 12,000 visitors in October, up 20 per cent [on last year]... It's the busiest October since the museum opened more than 30 years ago.

"We do attribute a lot of that to the publicity we did around the Pope's visit, so we feel very delighted about how it all worked out."

He said it had helped the museum pull itself back from a difficult summer due to the extraordinarily hot weather Ireland experienced.

Mr Coleman said that during the summer people were opting for outdoor activities over visiting a museum.

As a result, he does not expect they will hit their target of 200,000 visitors by the end of 2018.

"I don't think we're going to get there. Even though the October was so busy, it still doesn't account for the drop-off in summer."

Mr Coleman is excited about the museum's plans in 2019 for a Game Of Thrones-themed exhibition, which will open to coincide with the release of the final series of the programme.

"It's going to feel like you're going to be walking into one of the locations in Game Of Thrones," he said.

"There's going to be a dragon coming through one of the walls. [There] is going to be a throne to sit on... and then we're going to have a few characters."

Among the waxworks being considered are Daenerys Targaryen, portrayed by Emilia Clarke, and Ser Davos Seaworth, played by Liam Cunningham.

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