Eucharistic Congress to draw crowds 'when we need it most'
When it was last held in 1932 there were a million people in Dublin's Phoenix Park -- when it takes place this summer, the organisers will be happy if the final rally at Croke Park has 82,000.
"We never aimed for those kind of numbers," said Fr Kevin Doran, secretary general of this year's Eucharistic Congress, "on health and safety grounds alone those kind of numbers would be out."
But Fr Doran believes that there are similarities between 'then and now' in the Congress, which will see the RDS filled with 25,000 people daily from June 10 up to the closing ceremony in Croke Park on Sunday, June 17.
"The perception might be that 1932 was triumphalism and a different style than we would think was appropriate today, but it did bring people together after the horrors of the Civil War, so it was a time of healing," said Fr Doran.
"As we all know we are again going through difficult times and with the angst that there is today it's not a great time for many people.
"It probably wasn't a great time then either, so the best time for a Congress such as this is when you need it most."
Fr Doran believes that the Congress will be "a cross between a U2 concert, an All-Ireland and the Horse Show" and says it will bring an economic benefit to the country.
With 35 full-time staff and 1,000 volunteers, the Congress is one of the biggest events in Dublin this year and is expected to bring in a mini-boom.
People arriving from overseas will be greeted at the airport and given a briefing on Dublin and how to get around the city. Many of those coming for the Congress will also be put up by local families.
Fr Doran said that while much of the attention would focus on the bigger events there would be a full programme for the week of the Eucharistic Congress.