Pope Francis waved from the popemobile as he greeted thousands of people who gathered along Dublin’s streets to catch a glimpse of the visiting pontiff.
A mix of well-wishers, tourists and a scattering of protesters watched on the Pope swept past at a brisk pace in his famous vehicle.
The trip passed many of the city’s well-known landmarks, as the Pope travelled from the Pro Cathedral, along O’Connell Street, Dame Street and onto the Capuchin centre for the homeless off Church Street.
O’Connell Street was briefly transformed from the usual Saturday afternoon congestion to cheering crowds.
Lines of barricades were erected creating a narrow corridor – with rows of people of all ages waiting to see Pope Francis.
Those assembled included both young and old, many waving papal flags and one holding a banner aloft which read ‘Bless Me Papa’.
Even two gardaí on bicycles got a big cheer as they passed down the corridor from the keyed up crowd awaiting their first sight of the white popemobile.
When Pope Francis came into view scores of mobile phones were thrust into the air as many watchers tried to capture the moment.
Pope Francis smiled and waved at the cheering crowds, alternating his view both left and right.
Pauline Gallagher, from Dublin – who watched the pope pass by on Dame Street was joined by her father and seven month-old twin girls Amelia and Allana.
“We brought the girls into see the pope pass by,” said Ms Gallagher. “I came with the whole family.
“It was fabulous, but a bit quick, I wonder if he was abiding the speed limit, as he just flew by.
“It was wonderful to see him though, and all the crowds turned out to see him too it was wonderful.
“I can always tell the little ladies they went to see the pope.”
Husband and wife Scott and Samantha Rickson, who live in Britain, were among the many young people on Dame Street. They had come to Ireland to celebrate Samantha’s 30th birthday and had waited over an hour to see the Pope.
Mr Rickson said it was a rare opportunity to see the pontiff that they wanted to grasp.
“The city seems to be so alive,” he said, adding the atmosphere was fantastic in Dublin.
Ms Rickson said: “We’ve been to Rome and haven’t seen him so we’re really excited that he’s here in Dublin and we get to see him.”
Husband and wife Tom and Regina Birch and their two daughters were among the many families who turned up.
“We managed to have a papal audience with Pope John Paul II a few years and we were at Pope Benedict’s inauguration, so this will be our third pope,” Tom Birch said.
Nine-year-old Grace Birch said: “We want to see the pope.”
The family missed out seeing the pontiff during a recent holiday to Italy.
“We went to Rome on Wednesday for the papal audience and it was too hot for him to come out,” said six-year-old Zoe Birch.
The two girls were very excited about the day.
As well as the cheering crowds there were others though who were protesting as the popemobile sped by.
Outside the entrance to Dublin Castle, a vocal group of victims campaigners heckled the pope as he passed, demanding an end to clerical abuse.
“I am protesting against paedophiles and the cover up, against letting children down,” she said.
“He is not welcome, this is not the right moment, the people are still hurt, the victims are still here and it must be hard for them to see the whole show – the Pope coming like nothing happened.”
Some tourists visiting Dublin were initially unaware they are sharing their holiday to Ireland with Pope Francis.
Many visitors arrived on Saturday afternoon with no idea why thousands of people were lining the streets. The hen party of Carys Roderick had booked their flights from Wales months ago, and they were partying on Dame Street with the bride-to-be dressed as a chicken.
Ms Roderick joked that she was delighted the Pope had come out to see her. “We booked the flights ages ago, we had no idea he was coming on the same weekend as us, but it was nice of him to show up for me,” she said. “We decided since we were here we would turn out to see him.
“I was expecting him to go a bit slower, he passed by in like two seconds, the car went so fast by us. “I suppose it’s something to tell the grandchildren, I can always say I saw the Pope while dressed up as a chicken.” – PA