Sharon Tighe-Mooney was still in school when the Pope came to Ireland in 1979. Early on a Sunday morning in September, she gathered with pals in rural County Roscommon for a bus trip to see John Paul II in the western city of Galway. "Every teenager in the village was there," she says. There was a party atmosphere as they merrily went off for a big day out with no parents to bother them. "A Pope was never seen outside the Vatican. It was a huge thing; and he was very charismatic." Tighe-Mooney, now in her 50s, laughs as she recalls an unexpected detour. The bus had hardly left home before it stopped in the nearest town, only minutes away, so the gang could go to mass in a local church. Only then did they go on to John Paul II’s special mass for young people in Galway, travelling 128km on bad country roads to the city racecourse. There they joined a happy throng of 300,000 to see the Polish pontiff, who had been elected just the year before. "The bus was parked miles from the site, s...

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