Mayo is gearing up for the arrival of Pope Francis after it was confirmed today that the Pope will visit Knock on Sunday, August 26.
Pope Francis will arrive into Ireland West Airport on a specially chartered Aer Lingus flight from Dublin from Dublin and travel by motorcade the 20-kilometre route along the N17 to Knock Shrine.
Following his visit to the Shrine he will return to Dublin from Ireland West Airport later that morning.
It was following the first ever Papal visit to Ireland in 1979, when Pope John Paul II visited Knock Marian Shrine, that Monsignor Horan began his campaign to build an international airport in Mayo close to the Shrine.
Minister Michael Ring welcomed the news today saying: “Knock has great significance for people of the Catholic faith in Ireland and the Pope’s decision to visit the basilica will no doubt be warmly welcomed.
“The visit of Pope John Paul II to Knock in 1979 was a seminal moment for the West of Ireland and the news that Pope Francis is to visit Knock is fantastic news for Mayo.
“I have no doubt that people from Mayo and beyond will turn out in great numbers to welcome Pope Francis on his visit to Knock Shrine. The basilica of Our Lady has recently undergone a major makeover and will no doubt be looking it’s best for the visit.”
Speaking ahead of a historic visit to the West of Ireland, Joe Gilmore, Managing Director of Ireland West Airport said: “It will be both an honour and a privilege to welcome Pope Francis in August for what will be a historic first papal visit to the airport and the realisation of the vision of the airport founder Monsignor Horan.
“This will be a truly historic occasion and will showcase the airport, Knock Shrine and indeed the West of Ireland to a global audience of millions which will have a hugely positive impact for tourism to the region.
“I’d also like to recognize the hard work of Fr Richard Gibbons and his team in Knock who have worked tirelessly over the last number of months to make this happen and all at the airport looks forward to a great occasion in August.”