Pope in the park: Organisers deny people will pay to see pontiff

Bishop Brendan Leahy said there may be a ‘certain fee’ for attending Croke Park event

The World Meeting of Families has denied a suggestion from a bishop that people will have to pay to see Pope Francis in Croke Park in August.

The Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said there will be a "certain fee" for those attending Croke Park who have not booked for the congress of the World Meeting of Families in the RDS.

The congress takes place between August 22nd and 24th and is a paying event.

Pope Francis has confirmed he will attend the Festival of Families on Saturday, August 25th and will say the closing mass for the World Meeting of Families on Sunday, August 26th.


Though neither venue has been finally confirmed, it is expected that the Festival of Families event will take place in Croke Park on Saturday and the final mass will take place in the Phoenix Park on Sunday.

On RTÉ Drivetime programme Bishop Leahy was asked by presenter Mary Wilson as to whether or not those attending Croke Park to see the Pope on Saturday, August 25th will have to pay to do so.

Bishop Leahy said there will be no charge for the Croke Park event for those who will be attending the congress and under-18s will be attending the congress free of charge anyway.

However, the Bishop added: “For others then yes there is a certain fee, but it is certainly nothing like big concerts that people go to today. The tickets, I think, we have made a huge effort to keep them as reasonable priced as we can.”

World Meeting of Families spokeswoman Brenda Drumm said the bishop must be referring to the RDS event as there will be no charge for anybody to attend Croke Park.

“You cannot charge anybody even a nominal fee to attend a Papal event,” she said. “Nobody will pay to see the Pope in Croke Park or in the Phoenix Park.”

She said tickets for the Croke Park event will not be made available to the public until the capacity for the RDS fills up.

The capacity of the World Meeting of Families congress at the RDS will be between 15,000 and 20,000. There are currently 8,000 registered with 5,000 of them from overseas. Two-thirds of those who have booked already have opted for the full five days.

The congress costs €68 online for a five day ticket which includes congress registration for three days, the Festival of Families and the Pope’s final mass in Croke Park. It is €78 for those who are booked on the day. A one-day ticket costs €38 online and €43 on the day. There are also concessions for pensioners, unwaged and students.

Ms Drumm said, however, that people who are anxious to see the Pope in Croke Park can ensure their attendance there by buying a ticket for the congress also.

“They can book for one day and automatically secure a ticket for Croke Park and the closing mass,” she explained.

“If people really want to make sure that they are at the Festival of Families in Croke Park they should book a one day ticket for the congress.”

Ms Drumm confirmed that the Phoenix Park mass will be a ticketed event unlike in 1979 in which people just turned up.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times