Pope's summer visit will never draw 1979 crowds
Ireland is sure to give Pope Francis a warm welcome in August, just not as big as the first visit, writes Alan O'Keeffe who was there
As Dublin prepares to greet Pope Francis, the organisers know the sheer scale of the last papal visit 39 years ago is a hard act to follow.
Confirmation in recent days that Pope Francis (inset, below) will attend a Festival of Families concert in Croke Park on August 25, followed by a Papal Mass the next day in Phoenix Park, has sent Irish planners into overdrive. The weekend's events are expected to cost €20m.
The biggest challenge will be organising the Phoenix Park event and, while Mass attendance has seriously declined, church officials expect up to 500,000 people could still show up.