Belfast Telegraph

Global rush for tickets to see Pope in Ireland

Thousands of international visitors have signed up to see Pope Francis in Dublin, even before tickets are formally released today.

Pilgrims from as far away as China and Congo will travel to the Republic in August to take part in festivities linked to the papal visit.

Already, 10,000 people from abroad have bought tickets to attend the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) at the RDS in Dublin.

But that figure is expected to increase dramatically when free tickets to events in Knock and Phoenix Park are made publicly available.

Organisers have applications from 114 countries, making this one of the most international gatherings ever held in Ireland.

There is huge interest from the UK, with 660 people from England registering so far.

The US will also be heavily represented, with 489 tickets already sold there.

Another 120 have gone to Canada, 453 to Spain, 143 to Congo, 67 to South Africa, seven to China and two to Saudi Arabia.

The economic impact of the visit by Pope Francis will primarily be felt in Dublin but organisers believe many visitors will go beyond the capital to see tourist sites around the country.

"There are a lot of people coming in groups a few days before the RDS Congress starts and they will visit some of the many tourism sites around the country," WMOF spokeswoman Brenda Drumm said.

She added that many are likely to stay on after August 26 as well.

An event in Croke Park which is a centrepiece of the WMOF conference is already fully subscribed.

Tickets for Pope Francis' appearances at Knock Shrine and in the Phoenix Park will be released online this morning.

Organisers have decided not to pre-announce the exact time at which the ticket portal will go live amid fears a rush to place orders could challenge the capacity of their website.

It is expected that 45,000 tickets for Knock on Sunday, August 26, will be quickly snapped up.

There is a capacity of 500,000 people for the Phoenix Park, meaning tickets for the Pope's Mass in Dublin will be much easier to access.

Ms Drumm said "thousands of queries" have been received by parishes, dioceses and the WMOF offices.

There were also hundreds of social media posts and messages over the weekend.

People using the ticket portal on www.worldmeeting2018.ie will be asked to provide details of their travel plans so authorities can put together the best possible transport routes.

Every ticket will have a barcode linking it back to the original applicant.

Belfast Telegraph

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