Ireland was a very different place when the Pope last visited in 1979 and so too was the world of Sponsorship.

Skoda Ireland today announced that it will be the official car partner to the World Meeting of Families 2018 and the Papal visit.

As part of the announcement, Skoda Ireland confirmed that when Pope Francis touches down in Dublin on the morning of Saturday, 25th August, he will be transported to Áras an Uachtaráin in a Skoda rapid, pictured above.

He will, of course, be surrounded by a Garda escort and the more ‘everyman’ nature of the transport as opposed to a Black Mercedes motorcade is probably more in keeping with his understated style.

It is nonetheless something of a coup for the brand to have such a high profile with a partnership that will certainly stand out on television and around the world’s media.

“We are excited and honoured to be official car partner of the World Meeting of Families 2018,” said Skoda Head of Marketing and Product Raymond Leddy.

“All Skoda models are designed and built with the family in mind. We offer some of the most spacious cars on the market, perfect for families young and old, so this is a great opportunity for us to showcase the quality of the range to mass audiences, both at home and abroad.”

“The Skoda Rapid was chosen as it is one of the best value vehicles in the Skoda range, providing extensive rear-seat space and ease of access. Three identical vehicles, each fitted with unique identification registration plates, have been reserved for the event.”

“As part of the Papal fleet, we are commemorating Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland, with vehicle registration 182-C-1979 and, of course, marking this year’s event with vehicle registration 182-C-2018. 182-D-9093 is the primary vehicle, which, when the digits 9093 are inverted, spells out the word Pope.”

“Each vehicle has been customised to very specific requirements. Modified glass has been installed and each vehicle has been provided in a unique navy-blue colour as requested. Small chrome flag poles have also been installed to the passenger-side fenders, which will display the Vatican flag.”

Following the visit, the vehicle used by the Pope will be provided to a charity to be nominated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, in accordance with the wishes of Pope Francis.

In addition to providing transport to Pope Francis in Dublin and Knock, Skoda Ireland will provide fleet services to dignitaries.

Following his meeting with President Michael D Higgins, Pope Francis will be transported to Dublin Castle, where he will deliver a speech, followed by a visit to St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral and a private visit to the Day Centre for Homeless Families of the Capuchin Fathers. That evening, Pope Francis will attend the Festival of Families event at Croke Park.

On Sunday 26th August, Pope Francis will fly to Knock airport, where he will be transported to Knock Shrine. He will then return to Dublin for the World Meeting of Families 2018 Closing Mass in the Phoenix Park, marking the conclusion of his visit to Ireland.

The visit will dominate media here throughout the latter part of next week and has already been claimed as being the largest single gathering of people in one place in Europe this year.

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