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Our Eimear parties like it's 1979 ... in the Popemobile

FROM Papal tours to boozy parties -- this bus has had a heavenly makeover.

The Herald got an exclusive peak inside the newly renovated Popemobile, which has been transformed to cater for football teams and stag and hen parties.

The Pope-mobile has come a long way from when it was first used in 1979 to manoeuvre Pope John Paul II safely through the crowds during his historic visit to Ireland.

After undergoing a €60,000 makeover, the 15 seater -- which includes the Pontiff's original chair -- is available from today to hire for party groups for €300 an hour, plus VAT.

The venture is the brainchild of businessman Paddy Dunning, owner of the Wax Museum in Dublin's Temple Bar, who first got the idea to renovate the historical mobile in 2008.

"We said we cannot let this go to rust; it's such an iconic vehicle so we said we'd get it out. We didn't want to just put wheels on it, we wanted to bring it around the country," he told the Herald.

"We want people to rent it out, we want companies to rent it out; we want bands and musicians."

The Herald was invited on board the Popemobile yesterday for a sneak preview.

The spacious van -- which includes the original "Pope's chair" -- opens out on to a small front-facing terrace which will allow those using the van to take in the sights around them.

While alcohol is permitted on board, a driver will be provided.

The Popemobile cab was made in Cork by Ford for the 1979 Papal visit, and was operated by garda drivers.