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Closures, cars and crowds: Everything you need to know about the Pope’s visit

24th Aug 2018

Vatican City - October 29, 2014: Pope Francis greets attendees at the weekly general audience on October 29, 2014 in Rome. Every week, thousands of pilgrims from around the world take this opportunity to meet the Pontifex.

Closures, cars and crowds: Everything you need to know about the Pope’s visit

In case you have been living under a rock, Pope Francis is coming to Ireland this weekend. There will be severe travel restrictions across Dublin and although this trip is expected to draw significantly smaller crowds than the last papal trip, 100,000+ people are still expected.

When Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in September 1979, more than one million people gathered for the papal Mass – is believed that this was the largest gathering of Irish people in history, with almost one-third of the Irish population at the time present in Phoenix Park.

Where will the Pope be, and when?


Pope Francis will land at 10.30am on Saturday, August 25 in Dublin Airport. He will be greeted by clergy and representatives of the Government.

Next he will make his way to Áras an Úachtaráin to meet President Michael D Higgins. Soon after he will visit Dublin Castle where he will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as well as church leaders, Government MEPs and the Council of State. Here he will make his first speech before heading back across the river to visit the Capuchin Fathers day centre for homeless families on Arran Quay.

It is anticipated Pope Francis will proceed through Dublin city centre at 4.15pm in  ‘the Popemobile’  – this is the event that 100,000 people expected to attend. The route will most likely be; Marlborough St, Cathal Brugha St, O’Connell St, O’Connell Bridge, Westmoreland St, College St, College Green, Dame St, Lord Edward St, High St, Bridge St, Fr Mathew Bridge, Church St, Bow St.

On Saturday evening, Pope Francis will attend the Festival of Families at Croke Park in Drumcondra, with gates opening at 4pm.

The concert starts at 6.30pm and will run until 8.30pm. 70,000 people are expected to attend. Every person in attendance will require a ticket to access the venue.


On Sunday morning Pope Francis will fly from Dublin to Knock where 45,000 devotees are expected to join him in visiting the Apparition Chapel at the Knock Shrine at 9.45am , where he will lead the Angelus.

Before lunch the Pope will fly back to Dublin where he will be the chief celebrant in a special 3pm Mass at the site of the Papal Cross in Pheonix Park. This event is expected to draw the largest crowds.

Afterwards, the Pope will meet the Irish Bishops at the Convent of the Dominican Sisters in Cabra. Here, he will deliver the last of his prepared speeches, before flying back to Rome.

What are the traffic restrictions and places to avoid? 

People have been strongly advised to leave the car at home this weekend as dozens of roads are closed for the duration of the Pope’s visit.


Allow ample time for any journey and make plans accordingly. Do not leave it until the day of the event to plan your trip. Expect congestion on all routes during the visit.

Cathedral St will close from 10am today (Thursday 24). For more information on road closures and travel restrictions, see AA Roadwatch.

Over 50 roads will be closed around Dublin’s city centre between 6am and 7pm on Saturday as Pope Francis attends events across the capital.

 Road closures will stretch from Patrick Street and Dawson’s street to Cathal Brugha Street, Sean McDermott Street and King’s Street North. Dame Street, College Green and part of Nassau Street will be closed along with all streets leading onto O’Connell Street to accommodate the popemobile’s tour of the city.

Parking will also be suspended through the city centre in Killarney Street; Buckingham Street Lower; Buckingham Street Upper; Sean McDermott Street Lower; Sean McDermott Street Upper; Cathal Brugha Street; Cumberland Street North; Sackville Place; Abbey Street Lower; Abbey Street Middle; Eden Quay; Bachelors Walk; Bow Street; Nicholas Avenue; Church Street; North King Street and Mary’s lane between Church Street and Beresford Street.

On Sunday, things only get worse in terms of traffic restrictions.

A controlled access zone will remain in place around Dublin city until 11pm on Sunday. Some 86 roads, including all routes along the Quays both north and south of the city will be closed.

If you need to cross the city or travel to the airport on Sunday, you can use the M50 or the East Link Bridge and Port Tunnel or Swords Rd as normal – but allow plenty of extra time for your journey.

The Phoenix Park in its entirety will be closed from Friday evening to late Monday.

The M50 will be fully open on both days. However, the inbound lanes at J6 Blanchardstown, J7 Lucan and J9 Red Cow will be closed to all vehicles apart from buses on Sunday.

The World Meeting of Families 2018 Congress takes place at the RDS all weekend. The traffic around the RDS is expected to be congested as over 15,000 people are expected to attend the Congress at the RDS daily.


Knock is on lockdown from Saturday evening in advance of the Pope’s one-hour appearance on Sunday morning. No-one other than residents can stay in the Co Mayo village overnight. The main N17 road between Charlestown and Claremorris will close from midnight until earliest 3pm on Sunday.

Public transport changes 


A normal Sunday service will be in place with additional departures and diversions affecting a quarter of all routes. Details here.


Airlink will operate on Saturday and Sunday but diversions will be in place so allow extra time.


Details of changes to Aircoach services over the weekend are here.



Anyone intending to travel to Dublin via rail should book in advance at – this includes Department of Social Protection pass holders and annual ticket holders.

If you do not have an advance booking, you will not be permitted to travel from any Intercity station.


If you want to travel to the Phoenix Park on Commuter services, you will need to present your Papal Ticket within the short hop zone (from Balbriggan, Maynooth, Hazelhatch or Kilcoole) to avail of free travel. Large crowds are expected, so get there early.


A special DART timetable will be in operation on Sunday (26th) and extra services will be provided. Present your Papal Ticket to avail of FREE travel. Large crowds are expected, so allow plenty of time to queue.

Details of the special timetable are available on


There will be curtailments to Luas services on Saturday and Sunday. Full details can be found here.

Protest Event

In protest to the Papal visit, there will be a Stand for Truth event taking place in the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square on Sunday at the same time that the Pope will be giving mass in Phoenix Park. The event is set to begin at 3 pm and its organisers describe it as suitable for anyone who has “been harmed or abused by the Roman Catholic Church or who wishes to stand in solidarity with those harmed by its actions”.

The event will see a large gathering of people at the Garden of Remembrance, as it will host musical and spoken word performances from many Irish supporters of the group, including Hozier, Mary Black and Sarah Clancy. After the performances, the group will then walk to the site of a former Magdalene laundry on Sean McDermott Street.

There are multiple other gatherings in opposition to the Papal visit taking place around the city this weekend. Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA) Northern Ireland will meet at the Pro Cathedral on Marlborough Street at 2 pm on Sunday before walking to the Garden of Remembrance; We Are Church Ireland will gather on the Halfpenny Bridge at 9.30am on Saturday; and a public meeting organised by People Before Profit, entitled ‘A Message for the Pope: We are going to separate Church & State’ will take place at the Gresham Hotel at 6pm on Saturday.


According to Met Éireann, tomorrow Saturday will be dry in most areas, with top temperatures of 15 to 18 degrees. Clouds will thicken on Saturday evening and a band of rain will sweep across the country overnight, marking a wet start to Sunday. The rain is expected to clear eastwards by lunchtime, however, with bright spells and blustery showers making up the remainder of the afternoon.


Photograph: Pope Francis, Getty Images