The Papal Nuncio to Ireland has said a visit by Pope Francis is "possible".
On a visit to Moyross, Limerick, the pope's representative in Ireland Archbishop Charles Browne said there were "many links" between Pope Francis and the Irish people.
"Ireland is close to his heart. He studied here in the 1970s," he said. "I was with Pope Francis in July and had a long meeting with him, just the two of us, and he spoke with great affection about Ireland.
"He spoke especially about Ireland's great devotion to Our Lady, the mother of God. That obviously is very close to his heart, and he sees that in the Irish people too.
"Nothing would give me greater joy, as Papal Nuncio, to have that happen... (Pope Francis) loves Ireland, and he loves Our Lady, and he loves the Irish people."
Archbishop Browne also said that it was "terrific" that the Irish government had reopened its direct links with the Vatican by reinstating an Ambassador to the Holy See last week.