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Three Special Days for Smiths of Drogheda

The TV Coverage of Pope Francis on his recent visits to Cuba and the USA brought back memories of three special days in 1979 for Smiths of Drogheda and our local community.

Anthony Smith was our Dealer Principal at the time:

"Pope John Paul 2nd was visiting Ireland and Drogheda was one of the high profile places he wanted to visit probably because of the troubles on our Island at that time, he wanted to be near Northern Ireland to offer the hand of peace to both North and South.  The town of Drogheda was awash with Papal Flags the yellow and white bunting was all over the place and the North Road was no different with the whole street decorated in welcome.

Smiths of Drogheda had a huge part to play in that visit as we had to store and maintain the “Popemobile” that Ford Ireland in Cork had designed and built. We were delegated by them to make sure everything went to plan. So the big day came and the Popemobile arrived, and our staff were so very proud to be part of this momentous time in living history. We were totally unprepared for the excitement of hundreds of people who came to our dealership in the hope of seeing, photographing and if possible getting into the vehicle. Of course it was not possible to let anyone near it, security was so strict. We did however put barriers around the Popemobile and let all of these people in to see it, but not near enough to touch it.

Day two was the Big Day! What a beautiful dawn, and as our Family home was next to our site, my Mother Molly Smith was out with mugs of tea and sandwiches to the Garda and security people on duty, we had to have one of our Mechanic’s on 24 hour call as per Ford Ireland’s instructions, he was to go everywhere the Popemobile went, every aspect of maintenance and security had to be covered. When the Popemobile was brought to the Papal site in Killineer we were amazed at the number of people there already, people who had travelled through the night in an effort to get near the altar.

Sometime in the afternoon the sound of the helicopter brought the huge gathering of people to their feet, crying, cheering and waving the feeling was just electric. I can still hear the haunting music of the lonesome boatman from the Fury brothers and Davy Arthur being played to the three hundred thousand plus crowd.  We were so proud to watch Pope John Paul 2nd travel around the site sending blessings and waving to the crowd in our “Popemobile”.

All too soon the day ended and we brought the Popemobile back to N Smith & Sons or Smiths of Drogheda as we are known today, still under strict security. On the day before the Popemobile was taken away and we could all relax, we quietly went to each house on our road and brought the older folks to the Garage helped them one at a time into the Popemobile and let them sit on the seat that Pope John Paul 2nd had sat on the day before and had them take photographs.  I will always remember that morning as the highlight of the Pope’s visit, to see the faces full of wonderment and delight this was priceless for us and ended three days never to be forgotten by those of us involved."

Smiths of Drogheda are proud to have been at the heart of our community since 1936. Take a look at our history to find out more.

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