It has already played host to Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Prince, while Ed Sheeran is set to play a series of sell-out gigs there next summer, but could Pope Francis be the star attraction for Pairc Ui Chaoimh in 2018?
Cork county councillors have agreed to write to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Papal Nuncio to Ireland Jude Thaddeus Okolo to request the head of the Catholic Chuch visit Cork on his planned trip to Ireland in August next year, with the home of Cork GAA, Fota Wildlife Park and Mallow racecourse being put forward as possible venues.
Pope Francis is visiting the country as part of the World Meeting of Families and Councillor Frank O’Flynn (FF) believes it’s an opportunity the city and county can’t afford to miss out on.
Pope John Paul did not come to Cork the last time the Church leader visited the country in 1979.
“Everybody is looking forward to the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland,” said Mr O’Flynn.
“I personally feel that Cork, being the largest county in Ireland and the second largest city, the Pope should visit here.
“The first thing they’d look for is a venue. I think Pairc Ui Chaoimh would be ideal as it was when ‘the Boss’ Bruce Springsteen came and filled it out.
“Mallow racecourse would also be an ideal venue, as would Fota Wildlife Park. We have major venues here in Cork. These are vast areas and we have improved road networks.
“I don’t want Cork city and county to lose out on this occasion as we did in 1979.
“Someone said to me Spike Island but I think logistics would be a problem. If we could decide on a venue we could set out an itinerary. It’s an opportunity that we should not let slip up,” Mr O’Flynn added.
Kanturk-Mallow Councillor Gearoid Murphy (FF) said that while there are differing opinions on the Catholic Church today compared to 1979, the message of Pope Francis "is a very positive one and we should want to bring it to Cork”.
Deputy Mayor Ian Doyle said Cork people were already heavily involved in the logistics of the visit.
“This is a major event and the people of Cork and Ross and Cloyne are playing a major role in developing the programme for the visit,” he said.
However, Councillor June Murphy (Ind) said Pope Francis should visit Bessborough and apologise to the women and children who were interned at the Mother and Baby Home there.