Francis arrives in Ireland for first papal visit in almost 40 years

- Advertisement -

The Pope has arrived in Ireland for a historic two-day visit.

The pontiff’s flight from Rome touched down at Dublin Airport at 10.26am.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to welcome Francis during his whistle-stop tour of the capital city and Co Mayo over the weekend.

Pope Francis visit to Ireland – Day 1
Pope Francis as he arrives at Dublin International Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

Senior Irish clerics and other dignitaries gathered on the apron of the runway to greet the Pope clapped as the Alitalia flight landed.

Irish and Vatican flags were flown from the cockpit windows as the aircraft taxied toward its stand.

Pope Francis visit to Ireland – Day 1
Flags are flown from the plane carrying Pope Francis as it arrives at Dublin International Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

One of the girls then presented the Pope with a bouquet of flowers. The bouquet included thistles, yellow and white roses and green foliage.

Mr Coveney acknowledged that many people had mixed feelings about the visit.

“I think it’s been difficult for many people, for victims, for Catholics and many of the clergy,” he said.

“But I hope and expect that this weekend will be a very powerful moment. He has a personality that can reach out to Irish people.”

At some point over the weekend, the Pope will meet a number of abuse victims in a private meeting amid expectation he will use his public utterances elsewhere to confront the emotive issue.

Pope Francis visit to Ireland – Day 1
Leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin at Dublin international airport for the arrival of Pope Francis (Brian Lawless/PA)

Francis was greeted by Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina at their home at Aras an Uachtarain.

The Irish greeting party also included Irish government minister for children and youth affairs Katherine Zappone.

An Irish Army band played the national anthems of Vatican City and Ireland during the arrival ceremony.

Moving inside the property, the pontiff signed the visitors book before entering into a private meeting with Mr Higgins, which took place ahead of a tree planting ceremony.

The Pope is due to make a speech at Dublin Castle around lunchtime on Saturday, shortly after meeting Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Earlier this week, the Pope wrote a 2,000-word letter to Catholics in which he condemned the crime of sexual abuse by priests and subsequent cover-ups.

Pope Francis visit
The plane carrying Pope Francis arrives at Dublin International Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

Francis is ostensibly in Ireland to attend the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) – a major global church event focused on promoting family values.

However, he will also fulfil a number of other engagements.

Pope Francis visit
Blue ribbons are tied to Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin to remember the victims of clerical sex abuse ahead of the start of the Pope’s visit (Aaron Chown/PA)

Tens of thousands of people are expected to line the streets of Dublin city centre on Saturday afternoon as he passes through in his famous Popemobile.

In the evening he will join 82,000 pilgrims at a musical festival in the landmark Croke Park Gaelic Athletic Association stadium.

(PA Graphics)

He will then return to Dublin for the closing centrepiece of the WMOF event – an outdoor Mass in front of an expected congregation of half a million people in Phoenix Park.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.