A group of women spent 80 hours creating the life-sized woolly Pope

People arriving at Knock Airport in Mayo are being left in stitches - by a hand-made likeness of Pope Francis.

A group of four women in Ballavary near Castlebar spent over 80 hours crocheting the woolly Pontiff.

Teresa Hughes, Jacintha McDonald, Maire Ní Fhearraigh and Helen Burke have been meeting every Thursday at Stitch after Stitch wool and fabric shop in Ballyvary to piece the Pope together.

They have placed the likeness in the arrivals hall at Knock Airport – where it has proved a hit with tourists who've been posing for selfies.

Jacinta Mc Donnell explains how the idea came about:

“Sometime in May, an apparition came to me - or something like that - and I thought about the Pope.

“I just said, 'the Pope is coming in August now' – we didn’t know he was coming to Knock at the time – and I said, ‘sure we’ll make the Pope.’

“They said, ‘what do you mean make the Pope?

“So I said, ‘we’ll make the Pope.’

“So we crocheted the Pope just for a bit of fun.”

The project has already raised money for charity – and the group plans to open up a Just Giving page to ensure their creation can raise as much funds as possible for the poor of the third world.

The funds will also go towards research into Neurological Conditions - including Chronic New Daily Persistant Headache Syndrome – which Ms Burke suffers from.

Ms Mc Donnell said fellow group member Máire Ní Fhearraigh suggested bringing the doll to the Knock Shrine when Pope Francis says mass there.

“Máire and myself are both going to Knock and she is on about that we will bring him,” she said.

“I said we won’t get in the door with him; we won’t be allowed.

“So we’ll have to do some investigating about that.”

The woolly Pope will be on view at the Stitch after Stitch wool and fabric shop until the end of September.