Monday 16 July 2018

Papal visit or Holy style icon?

Hats off: Kirsty is hoping Pope Francis will throw sartorial caution to the wind and follow his predecessor, Pope Benedict's style when he arrives on these shores next year
Hats off: Kirsty is hoping Pope Francis will throw sartorial caution to the wind and follow his predecessor, Pope Benedict's style when he arrives on these shores next year
Watch out Miriam: Courtney is ready to tussle
ITV newsreader Alistair Stewart dealing with a desk crawler
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

I was down covering the Rose of Tralee this week.

Between all the cups of tea, purple Snack bars, hours of dress rehearsals in the Dome, and watching an RTÉ cameraman getting hoofed in the face by a Rose, talk inevitably turned to the Pope's upcoming 2018 visit.

The countdown is now on and there are already 1,000 volunteers signed up at the National Novena in Knock.

The full details of his trip are yet to be revealed but there's a chance he could delay the All-Ireland final and he will definitely deliver a Mass in Dublin on the Sunday.

"I think I'll pop along and say hello," I told the other Rose reporters. "Give him a wave, that sort of thing."

"Why do you care?" one of them asked. "You're not even Catholic."

That's true, but I wouldn't be going to see him for spiritual reasons, I just want to have a gawk at the big Pope-y head on him.

For my entire life I feel like I have been listening to people bang on about Pope John Paul II's 1979 visit to Ireland.

The newsreels and audio clips have all mashed together in my head and play in a distorted montage loop whenever the visit is mentioned.

There's Pope John Paul II arriving in a helicopter to Mass in the Phoenix Park while a million people crowded on to the grass with sandwiches and flasks of Barry's.

It looked like a very sanitised and saintly version of Electric Picnic.

Sadly, the Rebel County was snubbed; the Irish Press ran an article at the time titled 'Cork Feels Left Out Of Papal Joy'.

But everyone else seemed to have a great time; vendors sold special Pope bunting and Dana was inspired to release a song about his visit 'Totus Tuus'.

And then there was the Popemobile, fitted with a special Pope chair. It's now on display in the National Wax Museum, and available for hire for stag and hen-dos, if you're so inclined.

The 2018 visit is like the long-awaited second album - it can't possibly live up to the first but you're still curious to see how it turns out.

It's also going to be a national talking point - and who wants to be left out of the conversation?

But the real reason I am going to see him is because I cannot wait to see what Francis is wearing.

It's a well-known truth that popes are exceptional dressers.

Popes Benedict XVI, Pope Pius XI, and John Paul II were all big fans of the saturno - a sort of fancy fedora with a wide brim worn during the summer months.

It usually has some nifty gold stitching on the brim to add some oomph but it is no where near as eye catching as the galero - a lipstick red papal hat complete with dangly tassels and sequins. Pope Benedict XVI was obsessed with footwear, he was rumoured to wear Prada shoes inside the Vatican, and his appreciation for vintage red papal loafers resulted in Esquire magazine naming him 'Accessorizer of the Year' in 2007.

Then there are all the papal rings and tiaras; so ostentatious even Mariah Carey - a woman who literally baths in diamonds - would say 'too much'.

But Pope Francis is not like that, he's a minimalist.

He has a much more subtle and subdued papal style; nowhere near as showy as his predecessors.

I admire his aesthetic - he wears that pristine white cape very well, but I do hope that when he lands on our shores he will throw sartorial caution to the wind. I am praying with all my might that when he steps off that plane, he'll have a tasselled, ruby red galero on his head.

Brendan gives Miriam's political ambition a kick up the Áras

Turns out Prime Time's Miriam ­O'Callaghan is not the only RTÉ host with their eye on the Áras.

Fashion designer Brendan Courtney thinks he could also be in with a shot at the Presidency.

Following on from the success of his documentary We Need To Talk About Dad, the TV presenter will front a new show about the housing crisis called Crowded House.

Asked if would consider a career in politics, he replied; "Not yet. But I will fight Miriam for the Áras."

That's a tussle I'd like to see.

RTÉ launched its autumn season this week in Studio 4, with Dancing with the Stars host Nicky Byrne on MC duties.

There were shiny lights and mini croissants and everyone was smiling happily and talking about 'ambitious programmes' and 'legacy pieces'.

Channel Controller Adrian Lynch spoke about his favourite shows including WeatherWatch - a live broadcast across three nights all about, you guessed it, the weather. "So instead of looking out your window, you can look at the TV," one jaded hack mumbled. "Groundbreaking."

With Dobbo leaving the Six One, everyone wanted to know if Claire Byrne will be taking his place.

"I think everyone's name has been in the mix for the Six One at this stage but I've heard nothing about it," she said.

Comedian Alison Spittle talked about her show Nowhere Fast. "Doing a show is a lot like laser hair removal," she said.

"Something I never saw myself doing, a thing for people more glamorous and organised than myself, and I've no idea how it's done. But now it's happening."

There was a moment of slight embarrassment when sport host Evanne Ní Chuilinn told journalists about Des Cahill's new sports show.

"Is it called Ireland's Biggest? Or is it Ireland's Best Sports Moments, Des?" she asked.

"Well, you should really know that," he replied. "Given that you're the co-presenter. It's Ireland's Greatest, Evanne."

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