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'Excerpt from Snowdrop Patrol Log Book – Buion An Teaghlaigh Naofa, Harold’s Cross' image

29th September 1979 Papal Mass, Phoenix Park

Dia Dhuit agus fáilte!

 Today was one of the most moving and unforgettable days of our lives. It was the day when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland. To attend his mass in Phoenix Park we had to meet at 6.45am at St. Clare's. There was no meeting last night, well only a short informal one, so as we could get to bed early. Because it was such an early hour it was 7.30am before we finally set off. By the time we reached the park we could feel the excitement mounting. Everything was very well organised and we had a special corral reserved near the front. Our corral was A 22. We settled down and at about 10.00am the Aer Lingus flagship the St. Patrick flew over with the pope on board. The million and a quarter people there all joined together to give an almighty cheer and the mass area became a sea of yellow and white flags and banners. We prayed and sang all the time until at about 11 o'clock the Papal helicopter arrived. Once again all eyes were turned towards the clear sky. We all watched the helicopter, too overcome with happiness to cheer but when the pope finally came on to the altar there was an eruption of cheering, waving and singing. At approximately 12 o'clock the mass began. The pope's first words were "Beannacht go deo le Dhia". This again caused a burst of cheering and applause, which happened many times throughout the mass.

By two o'clock the mass was over and the pope then went among the crowds in his pope-mobile. Nearly everyone got a close-up view of him. Even after the pope had left there was still the ecstatic feeling of happiness. Everyone started making their way down to the gates but we remained behind so as to avoid the rush. Guides everywhere were talking about this unbelievable man as I'm sure most people were. We made our way home at about 5.30pm full of memories of that historic, moving and fantastic day.

Slán agus beannacht,

P/L Julie Donnelly