Emily Clarke with Jon Kenny - and others, below
A LOCAL woman’s campaign to bring Pope Francis to Limerick has stepped up a notch with a little help from some high-profile and well-known people.
Emily Clarke, from Crecora, began her campaign for a papal visit with a letter to the pope, for which she received a reply from the Vatican.
The singer also penned an original song for the pope, ‘Papa Francis’, which she sent for his listening.
And now, prominent Limerick figures have stepped up to back her calls for a papal visit here when he visits the country in 2018.
Mayor of Limerick City and County Council, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon, confirmed that he would be happy to extend an invitation to the pope for a Limerick visit after hearing about Ms Clarke’s campaign.
“I remember the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979, there was huge excitement and a very warm welcome when he touched down in Greenpark,” he said.
Comedian Jon Kenny also fondly remembered the last papal visit, and said that he “would be delighted” if the Argentinian pope came to Limerick.
“I support Emily Clarke’s campaign all the way. We have great memories of the last papal visit and I'm sure this visit would be equally supported. Limerick is enjoying a wonderful vibrancy now” said Mr Kenny.
JP McManus has backed the bid, while TD Niall Collins said that Limerick had the infrastructure to facilitate the visit.
“Limerick is very well-placed to receive a papal visit and in doing so would make significant history as it would record the second such visit,” he said.
“I have early childhood memories of the last papal visit to the former racecourse in Limerick, the huge crowds being the standout memory.
“On this occasion, the new racecourse in Patrickswell would be a very suitable venue adjacent to the motorway and well-placed to cater for the crowds,” suggested Mr Collins.
“All agencies and the public in Limerick should now get behind this campaign. We know the Pope is coming to Ireland for four days. One of those days must be to Limerick,” he continued.
“Emily Clarke's campaign is just beginning now, and in a way, this is like a bid for the Rugby World Cup. We must articulate our positives and strengths and impress these upon the key decision-makers.
“If necessary, we must lead a delegation to the Vatican to impress upon them our experience of event management and strength of resolve to help make this papal visit one to remember for the many new generations who have arrived since the last papal visit,” added Mr Collins.
And the campaign has also received ‘cross-party support’ in Limerick, with TD Tom Neville also stepping up to support the bid.
“I am delighted to support the campaign, as it would be a great profiling of Limerick,” he said.
“I saw the pope in Limerick as a very young child when the last visit took place,” the deputy remembered.