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Long road to Knock for Pope visit


THE TOP TABLE Superintendent Tom Calvey, Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Brenda Drumm of the World Meeting of Families, addressing the media at Knock House Hotel.

People urged to travel by public transport for the Pope’s visit to Knock

Ciara Galvin

PEOPLE travelling by private car to Knock Shrine for the Papal visit on August 26 have been warned that they could face more than a 10km trek to see His Holiness.
At a press briefing ahead of Pope Francis’ visit later this month, Superintendent Tom Calvey said if the 91 percent of people who stated they would be travelling by private car, when they were registering for tickets, do so, there will be no option but to park cars on the N17 and walk to the Shrine.
“The council have gone to great lengths to secure parking but there is not enough parking secured to accommodate in excess of 20,000 cars, so there will be no option but to park them on the N17 and people will have to walk, I would envisage, further than from Claremorris to Knock, if people use their cars,” said the Superintendent.
Those travelling by coach will face a considerably shorter walk of approximately one kilometre as Mayo County Council have developed a shortcut for public transport and coach users at Knock National School.
“The traffic plan has been designed to facilitate coaches and public transport. The furthest people will have to walk travelling by bus will be one kilometre … the nearest people can get who travel by car will be within three kilometres,” said Supt Calvey.
People are also being urged to make their way to the event in plenty of time.
“People need to get there very early, the Shrine will be open from 4.30am/5am, you’ll need to be making your way to the Shrine by then,” said Knock Parish Priest, Fr Richard Gibbons.
Fr Gibbons, the Superintendent and Brenda Drumm from the World Meeting of Families, the event which the Pope is attending at the Phoenix Park in Dublin, all urged people to use public transport when making their way to the site. The all ticketed event will see 45,000 descend on the village on Sunday morning, August 26.

Traffic restrictions
The N17 will be closed from Charlestown to Claremorris from 12 midnight on Saturday, August 25 to 3pm, August 26. The Superintendent informed the briefing that the reopening time of 3pm will be subject to change based on the numbers of people travelling by car. Traffic restrictions in Knock village will come into effect at 6pm on Saturday evening.
“The road will be closed far in excess of 3pm if the number of car users is large, you cannot have pedestrians and vehicles mixing.”
A stretch of road of approximately 30 kilometres will be closed between Charlestown and Claremorris and the superintendent said both An Garda Siochána and Mayo County Council have designed a comprehensive diversion process no matter what direction people are coming from. People are being asked to turn off satelite navigation and only follow road diversion signs.
People living along the N17 and in Knock will be issued with permits to allow access during the restriction period. Bus Éireann and Iarnrod Eireann will be putting on supplementary service for the event. Free shuttle buses will be available from Claremorris Train Station to the Shrine. For more information, visit Bus Eireann and Iarnrod Eireann websites.

Supt Calvey told the media briefing that under no circumstances will anyone without a ticket gain access to Knock Shrine and that those with tickets will have them checked ‘at various locations’ along the route. Hard copies of the tickets must be presented and scanning machines will be in use.
“I don’t envisage there’ll be anybody in the Shrine itself without a ticket looking to get access to the event. The event has been restricted to 45,000 people from a health and safety perspective and under no circumstances can that limit be breached.”
Asked if there are concerns about people gaining access without tickets, the superintendent said under public order legislation gardaí can prohibit people from a certain distance of the event.

Ireland West Airport Knock
There will be no entry into Ireland West Airport Knock between 8.45am and 9.45am and again between 10.45am and 11.30am on Sunday, August 26. Donal Healy, spokesperson at the airport, told The Mayo News that it has been indicated that even if airport passengers need to gain access to make a flight there will be strictly no access on the road into the airport during these times, as the Pope lands at 9.20am.
“The instruction given by gardaí is ‘you will not get past their checkpoint on the airport road no matter who you are’. People flying on the day should give themselves plenty of time to make flights due to diversions,” said Mr Healy.
All airlines have been communicated with in relation to restrictions and Mr Healy said Ryanair will be contacting passengers regarding this and that updates will be available on the airport’s website.
Gardaí will have flight manifests for each scheduled flight and will only be permitting access to the airport for those who are on the list or who are collecting people on the list.
As there are approximately 5,000 people flying in and out of the airport on the day, Mr Healy said it will be a busy day for the airport, which will also be put on the international media stage as the Pope lands.
There will be no public viewing opportunity of the Pontiff as the Aer Lingus plane he will be on will taxi into the airport’s ‘private facility’ where a number of local school children will be waving flags. He will be then entering a cavalcade and from there he will make his way to the Shrine.

The itinerary
8.30am: Initial gathering ceremony
9.20am: Pope Francis lands at Ireland West Airport Knock
9.50am: Pope to arrive at Knock Shrine
- Transfer to Pope Mobile at back of Basilica and make way throughout Shrine
- Arrive at Apparition Chapel for private prayer (10-15 minutes)
- Exit Apparition Chapel and make way to staging area where he will address the crowd
Conclude with the Angelus
Gift will be presented to the Shrine from Pope Francis and from Shrine to Pope by Archbishop Michael Neary
10.50am: Depart Shrine to Ireland West Airport Knock