People going by rail to Pope Francis events ‘must book in advance’

Senior Helpline urges members of the public to look out for older people who cannot travel

Intercity rail users will have to book tickets in advance if they wish to travel on the day of the papal Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, Irish Rail has said.

The company said extra trains will operate on all intercity routes to and from Dublin including a high frequency Dart and Commuter service.

Capacity is to be stepped up to cater for up to 250,000 passenger journeys on the day in question, August 26th.

But the company warned advance booking of Intercity train travel “is mandatory” and applies to regular and extra services, morning and evening, whether the passenger is going to the Mass or not.


A spokesman stressed that intercity train tickets would not be available for sale on the day and that there would be no access for anyone who does not have a ticket or reservation.

Existing ticket holders, including free-travel-pass holders and season-ticket holders should also note an advance reservation is essential for travel, the company said.

Customers can book travel at: or 01 8366222 and are advised to do so as soon as possible, as trains are expected to sell out.

No flexibility

Due to high demand customers must travel on the train they book and there is no flexibility to change to other services.

While advance booking of travel tickets is essential it will not be possible to book seats and the advice is for passengers to take the seat nearest to them.

Translink in Northern Ireland will also operate extra Belfast/Dublin Connolly services. Connolly and Tara Street stations are the closest points on the Dart network to Phoenix Park. Commuters can also transfer at Connolly for trains to Ashtown, for closer access to Phoenix Park

There will also be special services from Westport, Ballina and Athlone to and from Claremorris for the Knock shrine event on August 26th, including a free Bus Éireann bus transfer to and from Knock.

Full details on rail services for the World Meeting of Families events are at www.irishrail.ieMeanwhile, members of the public are being encouraged to invite elderly relatives and friends with an interest in the papal visit to their homes for viewing events.

Mobility issues

Anne Dempsey, communications manager with Third Age which runs the Senior Helpline, said the 5km walk to and from the public transport points in the Phoenix Park in addition to standing room only during the ceremony means the event is a big ask for people with mobility issues.

“Some people who are very staunch Catholics, weekly and even daily Mass goers, are not going because they say they wouldn’t be able for it. They are worried that something would happen to them. I have heard that friends are gathering and meeting in houses. It will probably generate a lot of conversations about the church,” said Ms Dempsey.

“This is also an opportunity for people to come together in an interesting and different kind of way. I would say to people to invite their [elderly] relatives and neighbours. It could be nice for people to sit around in a group setting and perhaps reminisce about the last papal visit.”

Senior Line receives calls from all over the country from elderly people who have concerns around loneliness, depression or are experiencing incidents of family conflict.

The service was developed and administered by the Meath based Third Age Foundation. All calls are confidential and lines are open every day from 10am to 10pm. Senior Line’s Freefone number is 1800 80 45 91.