Pope Francis to visit Ireland in 2018, Taoiseach confirms

It comes as a result of Ireland hosting the World Meeting of Families

Pope Francis to visit Ireland in 2018, Taoiseach confirms

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left) with Pope Francis in the Vatican | Image via @merrionstreet on Twitter

Preparations for a visit to Ireland by Pope Francis next year are already underway.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed earlier that the Pontiff will visit Ireland in 2018.

It followed a face-to-face, 30-minute meeting in private between the two men for the first time at the Vatican.

It was thought Mr Kenny encouraged the Pope to travel outside of Dublin when he comes here in August 2018.

It is unclear as of yet if he will visit Northern Ireland as well.

They also discussed the church's World Meeting of Families Congress, which is the reason behind the visit.

Mr Kenny says the Pope is "an important voice for the young, the poor and disadvantaged".

The last Pontiff to travel to Ireland was Pope John Paul II back in 1979.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar says this will be a very different Papal visit.

"The reception is going to be different - Ireland is a very different country now than it was in 1979, so I think the reception will be different.

"But I think it will still be a warm one, and I think hundreds of thousands - if not millions of people - will still want to come out and see the Pope. and he's a very popular Pope as well.

"Certainly the visit is very welcome".

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, says he hopes people will get involved.