Knock Shrine is the National Marian Shrine of Ireland and serves as a major pilgrimage site for Catholics. In fact, more than 500,000 Catholic pilgrims visit it on an annual basis. The location of the shrine in the town of Knock, which in turn calls County Mayo (west of Sligo and north of Galway ) home.
The significance of Knock Shrine is rooted in an apparition that was reported back in 1879. This apparition, which was similar to an 1858 apparition in Lourdes, France, was that of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist. It reportedly appeared outside of Knock's parish church and was first witnessed by two local girls. Soon after, more locals claimed that they too saw the apparition, bumping the witness total up to fifteen. Word soon got out, and people started coming in search of their own miracles. Also to follow were a series of inquiries that were carried out by the Catholic Church years later. These inquiries upheld that the witness testimonies were trustworthy enough and that the site should retain its significance.
It wasn't until relatively recent times that the National Marian Shrine Ireland truly established itself on the world pilgrimage map. This had a lot to do with the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 and the 1993 visit of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Today's visitor will find that there are five different churches on the Shrine grounds. Also part of the general complex are a museum, a bookshop, a camping area that can accommodate motor homes, and a hotel that offers 68 rooms.
The Marian Shrine Ireland is Knock's main attraction. As such, many visitors to the town interest themselves in one of the guided tours that revolves around the complex. All of the site's main facilities are highlighted on these tours, and at the heart of things is the story of the apparition. Also covered are the stories of Archdeacon Cavanagh and Monsignor James Horan. Archdeacon Cavanagh was serving as the parish priest when the apparition was reported. Monsignor James Horan, on the other hand, was largely responsible for developing the complex in later years, and he is also known for the building of the major airport that can be found near town.
Among the destinations that the Knock Airport serves are London and New York City. This helps to solve the solution of getting to town. As for planning a visit the Knock Shrine, it sits along the N17 Galway road and is open daily. General hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is no admission fee for the shrine, though donations are certainly welcome. As for the museum, it does charge a fee, though it is relatively modest. The museum hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May through October, and noon to 4 p.m. during the November through April period.