The man who turned a western bog into an international airport
It's 25 years since Knock's opening capped off an extraordinary priest's life, writes Damian Corless
They said it couldn't be done, but 25 years ago, on May 30, 1986, a new airport opened on a flattened-out strip of Mayo bogland. It has had several names in that quarter century. The current one is Ireland West, but to most people it's always been plain Knock Airport.
Times were bleak in May 1986. Ireland was the jobs blackspot of Europe, and Connacht the jobs blackspot of Ireland. Big employers in Belmullet, Castlebar and Westport were shedding jobs, the summer season was starting but hotels were shutting, and small enterprises were going to the wall.
But one man was convinced he knew what was needed to stop the rot, and for the previous six years he'd pressed his cause with missionary zeal. In 1979 Monsignor James Horan had pulled off the Catholic coup of the century when he enticed Pope John Paul II to visit his parish church at Knock.
Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to Opinions.
Independent.ie Comments Facility
INM has taken the decision to remove the commenting facility on its online platform Independent.ie to minimise the legal risk to our business that arises from Ireland's draconian libel awards system.
We continue to look forward to receiving comments through direct email contact or via social media, some of which may still be featured on the website Independent.ie