PLANS have been unveiled by a Dublin museum to use a vehicle formerly used for transporting the Pope into a venue for hen nights and stag dos as part of a new business venture.
Dublin Wax Museum have announced that they intended to hire the converted Ford Transit van to anyone who wants it, although a museum spokeswoman added that they would be ‘respectful to what [the vehicle] was’.
The vehicle was used by former Pope John Paul II on his visit to Ireland in 1979 - the first time a reigning Pope had ever visited the Emerald Isle - during which he called for an end to the ‘Troubles’.
The museum inherited the holy vehicle from former politician Donie Cassidy, with current museum chief Paddy Dunning having a particular aim in mind for the Popemobile.
“I’d like to get a sponsor on board and take it around the country as a ‘hopemobile’”, he said.
“We’d like to go around the 32 counties and build a collection of stories of local heroes.”
The 15-seater Popemobile has been given a €60,000 renovation (around £49,000) including a replacement Mercedes engine although it has kept its distinctive white and yellow exterior. The Papal throne used by the Pontiff was kept in Mr Dunning’s mother’s house whilst the vehicle was being renovated.
“My aunt is a nun in Rome - she has been there for over 35 years - and when she came home, she wanted to see the Pope’s chair and the Popemobile.
“When she was going back, we drove her to the airport in the Popemobile with all my family inside. She was the talk of Rome.”
Made by Ford in Cork for the Papal visit in 1979, the Popemobile was initially operated by Garda (police) drivers and will be available to hire for €300 an hour (about £243), around the same price to rent a stretch limousine. It is expected to be available for school proms, hen nights, stag do or even corporate meetings.
“We will be selective about who we rent it out to’ Mr Dunning added.
One alternative idea advertised would see the armour-plated Popemobile used for Dublin city tours, ‘complete with rooftop viewing balcony.’
The Papal partymobile will join a number of recognisable vehicles in unusual roles, including the red London taxi used as the official transport for the Governor of the Falklands.