Limerick honoured its most popular ever visitor today as a memorial was unveiled to Pope John Paul II.
More than 200 people turned out at Bishop’s Quay in the city centre as the memorial, with a likeness of Pope John Paul II making his signature salute embedded, was revealed.
Mayor Stephen Keary, Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy and Papal Nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo led the formalities.
The memorial stands on the quay overlooking the river Shannon and was designed by Limerick artist and sculpture Cliodna Cussen.
It is a reminder of that historic event 39 years ago when the first Pope to visit Ireland arrived in Limerick to say his final Mass before leaving the country, which was attended by 400,000 people, the largest ever gathering of people for any event in Limerick.
It also recalls his dedication as a ‘Freeman of Limerick’ by then Mayor, the late Bobby Byrne.
Mayor of Limerick City and County, Cllr Stephen Keary, said the visit of Pope John Paul II has stood out as one of the greatest moments in Limerick’s history.
"In his opening comments in his homily, the Pope uttered special words in our native tongue ‘A phobail dhílis na Mumhan’ – special people of Munster.
"He was regularly praised for having an innate ability to connect and in that moment, he connected with everyone from the Munster region.
"It’s only right that we would celebrate his visit. There was never anything like it before and will never be anything like again in this city most likely.
"The fact that we are doing the unveiling this year is timely given that we have the second ever visit to Ireland of a Pope in August. Regrettably, he’s not coming to Limerick but I suspect that a very large number of Limerick people will go to see him.
"Another reason for us to have this memorial is the very positive impact that Polish people have made on Limerick. There are an estimated 10,000 Polish people living here and it is, in a way, a dedication to them also that we would have a memorial to mark the visit here of their most famous ever countryman."