A MEMBER of Clonduff Parish said the first papal visit to Ireland in almost four decades surpassed her expectations.
Kathleen Cousins, chairperson of the Pastoral Council of Clonduff Parish, made the journey to Dublin on Saturday to hear the pontiff alongside many other locals who packed buses to travel down for the historic visit.
Pope Francis attended the ‘Festival of Families’ event in Croke Park on Saturday (25 August) and also celebrated an open air Mass in Phoenix Park the following day.
Dublin was chosen by Pope Francis to host the 2018 celebration, guided by the theme ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’.
The international event is held every three years and brings together families from across the world to celebrate, pray and reflect upon the central importance of marriage and family.
Mrs Cousins, who also travelled to Galway in September 1979 when Pope John Paul II came to Ireland, said Saturday’s event “was just as memorable.”
She added: “It was a marvellous day and we had a good glimpse of Pope Francis as he passed within yards of us.
“My son had got us pitch tickets and we were very honoured to be there and the whole experience was very uplifting. It was just brilliant to see him.”
Mrs Cousins, a former principal of Ballymaghery primary, said both papal visits to Ireland were very emotional for her.
“The concert itself was amazing on Saturday, however, technology has moved on so much since the visit in 1979.
“Obviously there were no mobile phones then and on Saturday everyone had their phone out taking photos and videos of all the performances.
“The visit in 1979 was different by the fact too that I was a lot further away then from John Paul from where we were on Saturday and we definitely got a much better glimpse of him.”
Mrs Cousins shared the pontiff’s visit with eight members from her family.
“We had no traffic jams on the way there or back which was good too and everyone was very excited and it was very uplifting and he showed compassion and empathy with everyone.
“The experience is something that I will never forget. It was very different from 1979, but enigmatic and worthwhile.
“It lived up to my expectations, in fact it surpassed them,” she added.