Novelty souvenirs turned out to be very papal for Francis' visit

From Joyce Fegan

From solar-powered pontiffs to folding biodegradable chairs, when it comes to papal paraphernalia, there is very little you can not buy.

With shops that take up entire windows for merchandise and stores that decorate their interiors with bunting with a Vatican theme, Pope Francis's visit has led to a strong increase in sales for retailers across the country.

Dunnes Stores has yellow and white baseball caps in stock with the Vatican top, as well as flags and three different T-shirts to commemorate the papal visit this weekend.

The yellow T-shirt with a picture of the face of Pope Francis is the most popular, with one store in Dublin that has to be supplemented three times so far. Similar T-shirts are available in white and green.

Religious shop, Veritas, planned far ahead of the Pope's visit, importing goods from Italy a few months ago.

They have a number of stores throughout Ireland, but their main store in Dublin's Abbey St has been a hive of activities with people looking for papal merchandise.

Some of the quirky items for sale for the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland.

They have dedicated their entire shop window to Pope Francis related items, including pens, rosaries, metal plates, cups, T-shirts, candles, key rings and canvas bags. Items start from € 1. Green rosary beads have been one of their bestsellers so far. Other popular items are a 40 cm statue of the Pope. Also good to sell are the approximately 30 books relating to the World Meeting of Families.

Customers come to buy the goods for remembrance purposes and also use them on the day of the papal visit. Perhaps the most innovative and unusual item on the merchandise circuit is the environmentally friendly portable chair for sale in Veritas and selling for € 18.95.

It was designed by Dubliner John McGarry after he developed a prototype that he used during a concert and tested again in the rain.

He said he came up with the idea of ​​taking a chair for the papal visit when he learned that some people could stand in the Phoenix Park for up to eight hours.

With a weight of only 1.5 kg and a flat package with handles, the chair bears the logo of the World Meeting of Families and a photo of Pope Francis. Mr. McGarry had 1500 of the chairs produced by the Smurfit Kappa for sale in Veritas. The durable device is made from double-walled ribbed 100% recyclable cardboard and is the Pope Chair & # 39; called online.

Due to the extremely high demand for this article, the chair can not be delivered to online buyers on time. Clicking and collecting is however possible at the Veritas Abbey St. branch.

Apart from Veritas and Dunnes, other stores get part of the papal paraphernalia action of EuroGiant and Dealz.

EuroGiant has large Bibles in stock for € 2 and plates and cups with the Pope's face on them.

Dealz has a considerable number of items with a Pope theme, with their € 1.50 & # 39; Lollipope & # 39; sold out in several of their stores. The lollipop bears the face of the pope and the Irish flag. Dealz also sells bunting and flags with a Vatican theme that people buy to decorate their homes. The 9 meter long bunting contains 50 flags and is also stored in other stores in Ireland, such as Veritas, which sells it for € 19.95.

The Silly Shop on Liffey St in Dublin sells some of the more comical papal items, including a pope's poppy head for € 5. This is one of the shop's bestsellers when it comes to papal paraphernalia, with other more usual items that buy, such as T-shirts, flags and lollipops.

A store that only goes out is Maktus, which has a building at the George's Arcade in Dublin and also sells online. They wear a T-shirt with the Pope's face, the Pride flag and the Repeal logo. This is for sale for € 18 and also comes in the form of a poster.

The store also has several coasters in stock and wears the phrase "Go ahead, take a can with Fran" and "Do not dope, use a coaster".

Other items in stock are a Pope's hand puppet for € 9.95 and a wallet with the Pope's face. Perhaps their most playful merchandise is a big sticker of the pope's face, which when he is put on a car window looks like he is traveling with you in the car.

Artists also take part in the action with gallery owner Frank O & # 39; Dea who gives free papal bulge heads with whatever artwork that was purchased during the Pope's visit. It is located in the Westbury Mall, near Grafton St, and the art gallery Balla Bàn of O & # 39; Dea is known for its works of famous faces, including the American President Donald Trump.

The bobble heads come with a small book of 32 pages with photos, famous quotes and a short biography about the Pope.

"We think this will be a very pope-ular souvenir to mark the visit of the Pope to Ireland this month," said O & # 39; Dea.

Although most merchandise is sold through well-established retailers, other chains that sell pseudo goods are among others the Circle K filling station, formerly Topaz. Street vendors are also expected to sell merchandise in the coming days when visitors arrive in Ireland for the historic visit of Pope Francis.

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