Aer Lingus to operate first Transatlantic pilgrimage flights from NYC to Knock

Damien Ryan, Cathaoirleach, Mayo County Council; Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector of Knock Shrine; Joe Kennedy, chairman, Ireland West Airport Knock; Joe Gilmore, managing director, Ireland West Airport Knock; and Peter Hynes, CEO, Mayo County Council

Damien Ryan, Cathaoirleach, Mayo County Council; Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector of Knock Shrine; Joe Kennedy, chairman, Ireland West Airport Knock; Joe Gilmore, managing director, Ireland West Airport Knock; and Peter Hynes, CEO, Mayo County Council

Knock Shrine and Ireland West Airport are delighted to announce the first Diocesan pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of New York to Ireland’s National Marian Shrine will take place in August 2015.

This announcement represents a historic development for the airport and the region as it will be the first ever transatlantic service operated by Aer Lingus, from the US to Ireland West Airport Knock, and the first official chartered pilgrimage to Ireland’s National Marian Shrine.

The special pilgrimage flight, which is supported by the Archdiocese of New York and led by the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, will depart New York on Saturday August 8 and return to New York from Ireland West Airport Knock on August 16. During the eight-day visit to the region, a specially tailored pilgrimage programme will be put together showcasing some of Ireland’s most historic spiritual sites, including a historic visit to Knock Shrine to open and participate in Ireland’s National Public Novena in honour of Our Lady of Knock.

Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Dolan, welcomed the announcement: “It will be an honour for me to travel to the West of Ireland and open Ireland’s National Public Novena on August 14 with Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, in Knock. Ireland’s annual nine-day National Novena honouring Our Lady attracts thousands of pilgrims to this beautiful land and the pilgrimage town of Knock every August; the month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector of Knock Shrine, commented, “This is a very important and historic step for the promotion of Knock, Ireland’s National Marian Shrine, at home and abroad. It is hugely significant that the Archdiocese of New York, led by Cardinal Dolan, is deepening its relationship with Knock Shrine and highlighting the spiritual heritage of Irish Americans especially in New York. Knock Shrine holds a special place in the hearts of our diaspora, and in the Catholic tradition, pilgrimage plays a significant role in renewing people’s faith and we are delighted to facilitate that. It is also important to note that Ireland West Airport Knock was built specifically to welcome pilgrims to Knock Shrine as well as to develop the economic life of the West. Monsignor James Horan, I’m sure, would be very proud.”

Welcoming the announcement, Joe Kennedy, chairman, Ireland West Airport Knock said. “We are delighted to announce this new pilgrimage service with Aer Lingus from New York in 2015, which marks the return of transatlantic flights to the West of Ireland after an absence of eight years. It will be a major milestone for the airport and the region to welcome Ireland’s flagship transatlantic carrier Aer Lingus to the airport for their first ever transatlantic service to the West of Ireland. We hope this is an important stepping stone in securing regular transatlantic services for the region into the future and we look forward to welcoming our US visitors to the West of Ireland in 2015.”

Declan Kearney, director of communications, Aer Lingus added, “Aer Lingus is delighted to have been chosen to provide the flights for this important pilgrimage group travelling from the Archdiocese of New York to Ireland’s National Marian Shrine in August. We look forward to working with the airport on this flight and welcoming the group on board.”

Peter Hynes, CEO fo mayo County Council, concluded, “This is a very significant step forward and underlines the strategic importance of the airport for the entire west region.”

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