The 50th International Eucharistic Congress is slated for Ireland in 2012. Be sure to mark your calendars and make reservations. Someone has to go, but it may not be the Irish.
In 1932, Ireland hosted the 31st such gathering. The crowds at the Mass in the Phoenix Park were enormous, a sea of Catholicism and fervent belief.
Some of the more trustworthy inmates of the Magdalene laundries were allowed to attend, those who weren't likely to run away or speak out about the horrible abuse that was doled out to young Irish women who had the audacity to get pregnant outside of marriage, or to be so unfortunate as to be considered tempting to men.
As the truth leaked out, the Catholic Church took a hit and attendance has been in a steady decline. There's a general lack of interest in the clerical profession, with parishes being forced to merge due to a lack of staff to say Mass and hear confessions.
No huge crowds of Irish faithful are expected in 2012. The Church isn't the rallying point it once was, ten years after the island was partitioned and the Irish Free State was on its way to becoming a republic, broken free of England.
The pope's an old man, and no one wants to hurt his feelings. He's building another Eucharist Congress and it would be an insult if no one came. By 2012, you'd have to believe that the dollar to euro exchange rate would be more favorable to the tourist, and there's so much to see beyond the Eucharistic Congress activities. Keep the date open, and make your plans. Someone has to go, after all.