PARISHIONERS have reacted with surprise and a degree of sadness to news that Pope Benedict is to resign on February 28.
While news of the Pope's resignation has shocked Catholics all over the world, the faithful who attended Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Killarney last night also expressed admiration that he had the courage to make the decision to go.
There was also hope that his retirement might hail the introduction of some fresh thinking into the church.
One woman, who did not wish to be named, spoke of her relief. She had received a text message earlier that day telling her the Pope was dead.
"I think if he felt he was no longer able for it, he was right to go," she said.
Another woman said she would have been far more upset if it had been Pope John Paul II who had announced his retirement, a sentiment touched upon by parishioner JB O'Mahony from Muckross.
"I think Pope Benedict wasn't there long enough for us to have got to know him but I hope we end up with a younger man," Mr O'Mahony told the Irish Independent.
Judy O'Mahony from Killarney said she admired the conservative pontiff for breaking with tradition.
"The church is so traditional in most of its dealings so it's very unusual but I think a good thing," she added.
Tony Kenny said he was "shocked" by the announcement.
He hoped a new leader would reach out to the faithful.
"I think it's a sad day in many ways," Mr Kenny said. "But I think it's a hugely courageous decision."
Bishop of Kerry Dr Bill Murphy might even be feeling a bit envious of Pope Benedict.
Having turned 75 a year and a half ago, Bishop Bill, as he's affectionately called, has requested to retire but, so far, has not been replaced.
"The difference is my resignation has to be accepted," he joked.
However, he wished the Holy Father well in his retirement.
"What characterised him most was his unshakable faith in God," Bishop Murphy said.