Daniel O’Donnell and Nathan Carter to perform at Pope’s Festival of Families

Pope Francis opts to sit among the faithful and not on stage with dignitaries at Croke Park

The Festival of Families event set to take place at Croke Park during the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland in August will feature performances by Riverdance, Nathan Carter and Daniel O'Donnell.


As many as 2,000 performers, including a 1,000-strong choir, are to take part in the two-hour Festival of Families at Croke Park in Dublin on August 25th, which will be attended by Pope Francis.

Among the Irish and international artists taking part are Nathan Carter, Daniel O’Donnell, the Riverdance Troupe, Holy Family Deaf Choir, the Deaftones, Celine Byrne, Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains, Moya Brennan of Clannad, and the Priests.

Ruán Magan, creative director with Tyrone Productions, which is staging the event, said the pope had “very much asked to sit among the people”.

“He didn’t want to be on the stage.”

Instead, the pope will instead sit among those attending on the pitch but on a platform “about 2ft high so people can still see him.

“He would have rathered that he was down on the pitch,” said Mr Magan.

Between 75,000 and 77,000 people are expected to attend the event, with Croke Park’s capacity reduced from more than 82,000 to make room for staging. All tickets for the event are gone but it will be broadcast live on RTÉ2 television as well as on radio.

Tyrone Productions was responsible for the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Croke Park in 2003, as well as RTÉ’s centenary show and the Laochra Pageant at Croke Part, both staged in 2016 to commemorate the 1916 Rising.


Mr Magan said the Festival of Families was a “very interesting challenge” for his company.

They will have to manage more than 2,000 performers from Ireland and all over the world, dancers, performers, singers and musicians. And a choir of 1,000 people, comprising many choirs from across Ireland with “incredible music arranged by David Brophy”, he said.

The orchestra will have more than 50 musicians, with more than 700 Irish sean nós and contemporary dancers, including 500 from Irish dance schools countrywide. There will also be 100 community groups and 300 flag bearers.

World Meeting of Families 2018 secretary general Fr Timothy Bartlett said that, as part of the programme, “five families from across the world are chosen to present to the Holy Father the realities, the joys the challenges of family life today”.

The families concerned would be from India, Burkino Faso, Ireland, Canada and Iraq.

“Pope Francis will address everybody before he departs,” Fr Bartlett said.