Ireland’s top stars line up to entertain Pope at Croke Park

Irelands top stars line up entertain Pope Croke Park
Daniel O’Donnell

Daniel O’Donnell, Riverdance, Nathan Carter and a 1,000- strong choir to entertain Pope at Croke Park next month

Next month’s visit to Ireland by Pope Francis is to be celebrated by some of Ireland’s biggest stars. Daniel O’Donnell and Nathan Carter are among the acts scheduled to entertain Pope Francis and a crowd of up to 77,000 in Croke Park for the World Meeting of Families. Nathan Carter, 28, said he was awed by the honour of being invited to perform.

“It’s a huge honour for me. I was part of a boys’ choir growing up and we sang for Pope John Paul II in Rome when I was about 11, so for me to sing for two popes is amazing and something that I never really dreamt of.

“To do it in such an amazing place like this is just going to be a dream come true,” said the Liverpool-born Irish chart-topper.

World Meeting of Families creative director Ruán Magan said the three-day event will be “spectacular, unexpected and full of joy and fun”.

Among the performers taking part in the entertainments will be a 1,000-strong choir, the Riverdance troupe, Dana Masters, Celine Byrne, the Begley Family, Holy Family Deaf Choir and Deaftones and Eastenders’ actor Patrick Bergin.

The Festival of Families show on 25 August is being produced by the two people who devised the original Riverdance, John McColgan and Moya Doherty and their company Tyrone Productions. Among those putting the event together will be people who worked on Ireland’s Special Olympics and the 1916 centenary celebrations.

The plight of migrants, the family, and the environment will be among the main themes, said Mr Magan.

Pope Francis has requested that be allowed to sit “among the people” on the evening on a platform in front of the stage.

Secretary-general of World Meeting of Families 2018 Father Timothy Bartlett said the church in Ireland had raised almost two thirds of its €20 million target for the three-day event. Collections have been held in parishes across Ireland for several months.

Father Bartlett said a final figure for how much the Irish government will have to pay for its share of hosting the papal visit is not yet known but the Pope will be treated as a visiting head of state with all the costs of security and event control a State visit would usually entail.

Irelands top stars line up entertain Pope Croke Park

Bishop behind Papal visit says Pope must acknowledge abuse

The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who was instrumental in getting Pope Francis to visit Ireland next month said at the week-end it is important that Pope Francis address the issue of abuse by members of the church.

He said on RTE Radio One: “It is important, I believe, that he does address it because the wounds are there and new wounds are emerging.

“If I had been asked two years ago I would have been talking about institutions and abuse by clergy, now it’s Magdalene laundries and mother-and-baby homes and a whole series of other places.”

Dr Martin said there is huge interest in Pope Francis’s visit right across Ireland with all 500,000 tickets for his Phoenix Park mass snapped up.

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