Widespread traffic restrictions will be in place across Dublin from Saturday morning to facilitate the visit of Pope Francis.
On Saturday, when the pope arrives at Dublin Airport, 52 roads will be closed around Dublin’s city centre between 6am and 7pm as he attends events across the capital.
Road closures will stretch from Patrick Street and Dawson Street to Cathal Brugha Street to accommodate the popemobile’s tour of the city from about 4.15pm, which is set to last about 25 minutes with more than 100,000 people expected to line the streets.
The popemobile entourage will begin on Cathal Brugha Street, move on to O’Connell Street, across O’Connell Bridge, up Westmoreland Street and continue up Dame Street.
The motorcade will then pass Christ Church Cathedral, go down Bridge Street and across the Liffey on to Church Street to the Capuchin Day Centre, where the pope will meet homeless families.
Gardaí said the M50, M1 and Dublin Tunnel will be fully open on Saturday, with no restrictions or closures planned.
Dublin Bus will operate a normal Saturday service. However, significant diversions will be in place. There will also be restrictions to the Luas service.
On Sunday, a controlled access area will be in place from 6am to 11pm which includes closure of roads east of the M50 between and including the N3, N4 and N7.
Dublin City Council haslisted 86 road closures for Sunday with a further 18 posted by Fingal County Council. Roads in Inchicore, Chapelizod, Ashtown, Castleknock, parts of Clondalkin, Drimnagh, Cabra, the Strawberry Beds and Arbour Hill will be closed throughout the day.
Dublin City Council said the M50 will be fully open on both days and only the inbound lanes at J6 Blanchardstown, J7 Lucan and J9 Red Cow will be closed to all vehicles apart from buses on Sunday.
Dublin Bus will operate a Sunday service with a number of diversions throughout the day. There will be seven dedicated Dublin Bus transport hubs to bring people as close as possible to the Phoenix Park. There will be some restrictions to the Luas service on both lines. Public transport on Sunday will be free for anyone travelling in the greater Dublin area with a ticket to the papal Mass.
The centre of Knock village will be closed from 6pm on Saturday. The N17 between Charlestown and Claremorris will be closed from midnight on Saturday until at least 3pm on Sunday.
It looks like the pope will narrowly miss the heavy rain but thousands of pilgrims may not be quite so lucky.
As heavy bands of rain pass over the country late on Saturday night, they threaten a wet start but should have cleared up by the time the pope arrives.
Gerry Murphy of Met Éireann said there was a chance of a few isolated showers on Saturday but they would be few and far between. And mild temperatures of about 17 degrees will help make pleasant conditions for the Festival of Families event at Croke Park later that evening.
On Saturday night, heavy rain clouds are expected across the country. How that will play out “purely depends on the timing,” said Mr Murphy, “and there is always uncertainty about that”.
As of Friday, though, it appeared most likely the rain would pass in Knock by the time proceedings began. At the same time, Dublin will be experiencing a wet start to Sunday.
“But by the time the pope’s Mass takes place in the Phoenix Park it should be quite dry,” said Mr Murphy. By comparison, in 1979 it was a dry day with temperatures in the range of five to 15 degrees.