Pope's visit organised by son of Wexford man
GERRY KEHOE'S FATHER IS FROM BRIDE PLACE
POPE BENEDICT XVI's recent visit to the UK was watched with special interest by the Wexford relatives of a man who had the job of co-ordinating the historic four-day trip.
Londoner Gerry Kehoe, whose father George is from Bride Place in Wexford town, had the distinction of being operations director for the hugely successful papal visit to England and Scotland.
In his early forties, Gerry is training for the priesthood and is currently on secondment to the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales from St John's Seminary in Wonersh.
He formerly worked in public and private events management, a career which helped him in his role as organiser of the Pope's trip.
Last Easter, he was asked to become operations manager for the visit, a job which involved ensuring all the practical aspects of the itinerary were organised safely and successfully.
His tasks included negotiating with the British government, organising major public gatherings and arranging the safe transport of thousands of pilgrims.
He is pleased that the visit was a viewed as a major success, not just in terms of the numbers attending public events but also in how the Holy Father's message was received so positively. For him, the real high point was seeing the joy experienced by people attending the public gatherings.
The fact that the Pope's visit took place on a worldwide stage presented a number of demanding challenges. 'But that is the nature of the job, to find effective and appropriate responses,' he said.
Gerry is the only son of George and Philomena Kehoe, a native of Roscommon, and grew up in Putney where his parents still live.
He has been a frequent visitor to Wexford with his father since he was a child and loves the vibrancy of the town combined with its seaside location.
'I absolutely love my trips to Wexford. I particularly enjoy an annual trip to Hook Head to savour the power and beauty of the majestic landscape,' he said.
His aunt Breda still lives in the family home in Bride Place while another aunt, Mary Ennis, resides in Rathaspeck.
It was no surprise that Gerry's Wexford extended family took a keen interest in the papal visit and were delighted that it passed off so successfully. A few of them contacted him afterwards to offer their congratulations.