Saturday 14 December 2019

Organisers wanted Ed to open for the Pope at Croker

Musician Ed Sheeran Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Musician Ed Sheeran Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Organisers of the World Meeting of Families had hoped to land the world's biggest pop star, Ed Sheeran, to be the headline act for Pope Francis's appearance in Croke Park this summer.

However, it looks like Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will get the gig instead.

Landing Sheeran, who has Irish roots, would have been a major coup for organisers and would have ensured a healthy interest in the August 25 Festival of Families event among teenagers and young people.


While the king of the singalong was considered for the event, a spokeswoman for the World Meeting of Families 2018 has confirmed to the Herald that Sheeran will not be performing for the Pontiff at the Dublin stadium.

In any event, organisers would have had a difficult task persuading Sheeran to appear at the event, as he will be in the midst of a world tour and is due to perform in Seattle that night.

Sheeran, whose grandparents hail from Gorey, Co Wexford, is fresh from a successful nine-date tour of Ireland, taking in Cork, Galway, Belfast and Dublin last month.

Many of his most popular songs - such as Thinking Out Loud, Shape 0f You, and You Need Me, I Don't Need You - have become anthems for millennials, the group which voted in the greatest numbers to support a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

The hitmaker was put forward in early brainstorming sessions by organisers of the World Meeting of Families, along with homegrown bands such as The Strypes.

However, they have both now been ruled out.

An informed source told the Herald that Italian tenor Bocelli is still a possibility for the two-hour Saturday evening event in Croke Park, at which Pope Francis will stay for one hour.

Bocelli is known to have a particular liking for Ireland and his pro-life stance chimes with the Pope's on the issue of abortion.

His mother was advised to abort him by doctors in 1958 as they said he would be disabled. However, she continued with the pregnancy.


Bocelli lost his sight following a football accident when he was 12, which caused a brain haemorrhage. He is now one of the world's most renowned tenors.

Sheeran and Bocelli have worked together in the past and last year they released a collaboration entitled Perfect Symphony.

Only last week, while performing in Wembley Stadium, Sheeran invited Bocelli on stage and the two sang a duet.

Tickets for the Croke Park event are free but are only available for people who book to attend three days of the Pastoral Congress in the RDS.

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