Dublin will host the next World Meeting of Families in 2018.
The announcement came as Pope Francis wrapped up this year’s gathering in Philadelphia, concluding a historic nine-day trip to Cuba and the U.S. It’s too soon to say whether the pontiff, who turns 79 in December, will go to Ireland.
Held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family, the event is described as “the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families.”
The Irish Catholic church as been rocked over the last decade by clergy sex abuse and Magdalene laundry scandals. A gay marriage referendum won overwhelming approval in May, and there is talk of liberalizing the country’s abortion laws, both against the wishes of the church.
Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin welcomed the announcement that the WMF would take place in Ireland. “Despite many challenges, the family remains at the heart of faith and of so much that we hold important in this country,” he told The Irish Times.
Ireland hosted the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in 2012. Pope John Paul II was the last pontiff to visit Ireland, in September 1979.
I’ve come across two historical transportation stories.
This month marks the 125th anniversary of the Armagh train tragedy, which remains Ireland’s largest rail disaster. The Belfast Telegraph explains:
The train was packed as it pulled away from the station at 10:15 am, but around three miles out of the city a nightmare unfolded as the train was trying to pull up the slope out of Armagh, but was pulled back by its weight. A decision was taken to decouple the front four carriages, move them to Hamiltonsbawn, and then to return for the remaining eight carriages. Stones were placed behind the wheels of those carriages, but they rolled backwards, crushed the stones and began to build up speed as they continued back down the slope. The runaway carriages crashed into another train, resulting in the loss of 89 lives. All denominations suffered – Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian.
June 1889 rail disaster at Armagh.
This August will mark the centennial of the death of John Phillip Holland, builder of the first successful submarine, known as the Fenian Ram. His experimentation began in Drogheda, County Louth. In America, a later design became the U.S. Navy’s first commissioned submarine, according to this story in The Irish Times.
He died in August 1914, relatively poor, and just weeks before HMS Pathfinder became the first ship to be sunk by a torpedo fired by submarine – and nine months before a German U-boat set its sights on the Lusitania.