In the wake of Pope Francis’ historic visit to the US, there was great excitement in Ireland with the news that the Pontiff had potentially chosen Dublin as the location for the 2018 World Meeting of Families and would very likely visit the Emerald Isle for the occasion.

It has since emerged that Pope Francis chose Ireland specially.

As The Irish Catholic reported yesterday, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family had been considering a number of countries to host the 2018 meeting, but Pope Francis personally requested that Ireland be the final selection.

Sources from high within the Vatican confirmed to Ireland's premier Catholic news website that the choice had come directly from Pope Francis, and that the Pontiff has a “strong desire” to visit Ireland. They noted that, while a 2016 visit had also been a possibility, it was decided that the 2018 meeting would be an ideal opportunity for the trip.

The recent 2016 World Meeting of Families was held in Philadelphia at the end of Pope Francis’ US visit.

The structure of the Ireland visit will also likely span the country, with the Vatican sources indicating Pope Francis could potentially visit a location in Northern Ireland, such as Armagh or Derry, and, in addition to Dublin, a holy site in the Republic of Ireland – possibly the famous apparition site, Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock in Co. Mayo.

Just as the Pontiff addressed the Unites States Congress during his US trip, he could potentially give a speech before a joint sitting of the Oireachtas at Leinster House, the seat of the Irish government.

The World Meeting of Families will most likely be held in Dublin and, as it did in Philadelphia, include an open air mass led by Pope Francis.

The Pontiff has spent significant time in Dublin before. He lived there for four months in 1980, learning English at the Jesuit center in Dublin’s Milltown Institute.

The last papal visit to Ireland took place in the autumn of 1979, when Pope John Paul II traveled to five venues: Dublin, Drogheda, Galway, Limerick and Knock.

Would you like to see Pope Francis visit Ireland in 2018? Share your thoughts in the comment section, below.