herald

Sunday 23 November 2014

How young people of Ireland can party in the Popemobile

THE high-security Popemobile may have been created for one very holy passenger but now raucous stag and hen groups can also jump on board.

The vehicle was used to transport John Paul II from the airport to the Phoenix Park on his state visit to Ireland in 1979.

Over one million people crammed in to catch a glimpse of the Holy See -- the first ever Pope to set foot in Ireland.

Ford Ireland created the elevated platform on a Transit chassis, which afforded the throngs of spectators a good view of the special visitor from the Vatican.

No expense was spared -- with the original silk-and-teflon carpet reputed to have cost €950 a square yard.

Former Senator Donie Cassidy acquired the cab in 1984 and it later went on view in the National Wax Museum in Parnell Square alongside models of the late Pope, Monsignor Horan and Cardinal O Fiaich.

The vehicle was retired, dismantled and put into storage in Santry in 2006.

But businessman Paddy Dunning came into ownership of the yellow and white vehicle when he acquired the Wax Museum in recent years.

It has undergone a €60,000 renovation and now sits astride a Mercedes chassis.

It will be available for hire for parties and corporate groups for €300 per hour and has 15 seats including the original 'Pope's chair'.

Mr Dunning said that they would be "selective" about who it is rented out to and that he would like to develop the transport system as a "hopemobile" to travel around the country, building a collection of stories of local heroes.

The revamped Popemobile will hit the road tomorrow when it is showcased alongside the latest wax statues of Jedward at the Wax Museum on Dame Street.

cmurphy@herald.ie

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