Punchestown could be on the itinerary if Pope Francis visits Ireland in 2018 as is speculated. The Pontiff announced at mass in Philadelphia that the Catholic World Meeting of Families will take place in Dublin. The Catholic World Meeting of Families is staged every three years in a different location around the world and is generally attended by the pope of the day. The announcement that the meeting will take place in Dublin was made during the concluding mass of Pope Francis's ten day pastoral visit to Cuba and the United States. If Pope Francis does visit, it will be the first papal visit to Ireland since Saint John Paul II came here in 1979. It has been speculated in the past that Punchestown could be used as the location for an open-air mass just like Ballybrit Racecourse in Galway in 1979 where almost 300,000 people turned out. It will not be Pope Francis's first visit to Ireland as he spent three months in Dublin in 1980 when, aged 43, he came to study and stay at the Jesuit-run Milltown Institute in Ranelagh. Pope Francis yesterday held a giant open-air mass, the final religious service of his tour of the United States, attended by an enormous crowd in downtown Philadelphia.
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