Debs, hens and stags to make holy show of Popemobile
It was first used to enable Pope John Paul II to safely navigate the throngs who turned out for his historic visit to Ireland in 1979 – but from tomorrow the iconic Popemobile will be available for hire for stag and hen parties and corporate gigs.
The venture is the brainchild of businessman Paddy Dunning, who came into ownership of the Popemobile when he acquired the Wax Museum some years ago from former politician Donie Cassidy.
Mr Dunning has given the Popemobile a €60,000 makeover and added a Mercedes chassis. It will hit the road again tomorrow, when it will be showcased along with wax statues of Jedward at the Wax Museum in Dublin.
According to a promotional pack, the vehicle has 15 seats, including the original “pope’s chair”. Mr Dunning plans to charge up to €300 an hour plus VAT for use of it .
He said the chair used by the pope was kept in his mother’s home in Greenhills, Dublin, while the vehicle’s makeover was completed.
“Nuns over from Rome were in my mother’s house to see it,” he said.
The promotional pack lists a number of possible uses, including “hen and stag [nights], debs and photo calls”.
“We will be selective about who we rent it out to,” said Mr Dunning.
He also has a more ambitious role in mind for the vehicle.
“I’d like to get a sponsor on board and take it around the country as a ‘hopemobile’,” he said.
“We’d like to go around the 32 counties and build a collection of stories of local heroes, either business people or local community achievers.”
The Popemobile cab was made in Cork by Ford for the 1979 papal visit, and was operated by Garda drivers.
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin declined to comment on the vehicle’s latest use.
Mr Dunning opened the Wax Museum in 2009 on College Green, Dublin.