By Aoife Moore
In Mayo, they’re still praying for a miracle — or, at least, the end of a curse.
And who better to ask than the man himself.
Divine intervention is nothing new to Knock, but with the Pope in town, you might as well take all the blessings you can get.
Always open to an opportunity, Audrey Elliott, who works in the marketing team at Knock Airport, handed a Mayo football jersey to Francis moments before he boarded the Aer Lingus plane back to Dublin.
Speaking afterwards, the football fan said she hopes the “curse” of the team is now gone.
The story of the curse dates back to the team’s last All-Ireland football final victory in 1951. The winning team was travelling back to Mayo with the Sam Maguire cup when they passed a funeral in the town of Foxford.
The local priest is said to have cursed the team after they failed to stop and pay their respects.
It is said that the curse will not be lifted until all the members of the 1951 team have died — two members of the original line-up are still alive. Since then, Mayo have reached eight All-Ireland finals and lost every one.
Ms Elliott, and the rest of Mayo, hope with the Pope’s blessing, the curse has been lifted.
Alison Nevin was also counting her lucky stars after managing to get a selfie with Pope Francis on Saturday night in Croke Park.
The 12-year-old from Swords in Dublin — who was brought along as a representative of the Traveller community to meet the Pope during the Festival of Families — saw the golden opportunity for a selfie with the leader of the Catholic Church, and took it.
Her mum Brigid said her brave daughter saw her chance and went for it.
“One of the speakers brought Alison up with her, as a representative of the young Traveller community.
“She was a bit nervous when she was sitting on the bench waiting to meet with him, but she said the nervousness left when she got up.
“She said she had been thinking of asking him for a selfie in her head, and didn’t tell anyone about it, just decided to go for it.
“She’s absolutely over the moon, her Facebook and Instagram were hopping off all over the place. We had to turn the phones off last night, they were ringing non-stop, and the picture was shared over and over.
The Croke Park event marked the second time Alison met with Pope Francis.
Due to suffering from a number of medical issues in the past, she and her mother were gifted tickets for a Papal Mass, and travelled to Rome to meet with the Pontiff and present him with a gift, three years ago.
Brigid said: “This is actually her second time meeting the Pope. We travelled to Rome three years ago, where she got a special audience with the Pope as the first Traveller child he met that day. Alison was in and out of hospital at the time, and we were given tickets for us to meet with him.
“He came off the podium and met with her, and she was able to give him a gift.
“Alison would be religious in herself, she has very strong belief so to get this experience, she’s just over the moon.”