Waterford's High Hopes Choir are "buzzing" and "feeling like superstars" after performing for Pope Francis at the Festival of Families in Croke Park, Dublin, on Saturday night.
Over 30 members of Waterford's High Hopes Choir joined their Cork and Dublin counterparts for the memorable occasion, accompanying other artists such as Nathan Carter and Andrea Bocelli who performed in front of an audience of more than 80,000 for Pope Francis’ visit.
The High Hopes Choir, a group set up in 2014 centred on the lives of people touched by homelessness, produced a moving rendition of Kodaline's 'High Hopes' as thousands held their phones aloft with their torches on.
Speaking to Waterford Live, Waterford High Hopes Choir's Terence O'Neill praised Pope Francis for getting the homeless choir involved in proceedings.
"The Pope wanted homeless people involved in the ceremony and he insisted that we sit up front, right in the heart of it all. Between the three choirs there were about 90 of us and they had to split us up, with the cardinals in the middle of us in the so-called VIP section," Terence smiles.
Terence says the choir were "nervous but confident" in the build up to the performance. "We have done major events in the past and only performed in the European Parliament last year, so everyone was excited heading up to see the Pope. The choir is very much community based, so it was a great opportunity to perform on such a big stage.
"We left Waterford at around 7:15am on Saturday morning and headed for Dublin. We signed ourselves in at Croke Park and went to the handball alley for our first practice session. We started the full dress rehearsal inside of the stadium at 11:15am with the likes of Daniel O'Donnell and Riverdance - it was amazing," Terence continues.
Terence says it was "surreal" to see the crowd's reaction to the High Hopes Choir. "It was dark by the time we started singing Kodaline's number High Hopes. There were loads of young people there and they would all know that song, so we were lucky in that sense and got the biggest ovation. When we looked around the stadium and saw all the lights coming on it was just surreal.
“We were ten yards away from the Pope and as one of the girl's said: 'we were so close to him that we could of wiped his bum'. We got great craic out of that and everyone was on such a high. The whole atmosphere and day, listening to the different stories from families, was unbelievable. The set up and the professional manner in which the event was carried out is something that Ireland can be proud of.
"The Pope was so human, he listened to people and the girl getting a selfie with him really showed that he is a man of the people. It was great to be part of that,” Terence adds.
Video credit: Louise Moloney (Facebook)