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Council back Kilcoyne’s proposal to rename airport after Monsignor Horan

Trevor Quinn

Members of Mayo County Council unanimously backed a proposal by Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne at their monthly meeting to rename Ireland West Airport Knock after the late Monsignor Horan, the founder of the airport
Speaking to The Mayo News Cllr Kilcoyne said he strongly believes that the name Horan should be incorporated in to the name of the airport. He said, “It would give some recognition to the man who made it all possible. It’s the first time it has been the official policy of Mayo County Council and it puts an onus on the board now to deal with the issue.”
When the airport opened for flights on May 20 1986 it was initially known for a brief period as Horan International Airport, however since then the airport has gathered numerous titles. Since its inception the airport has also been called Knock International Airport, Connaught International Airport and more recently Ireland West Airport Knock.
Last July Cllr Kilcoyne tabled a motion at a Castlebar Town Council meeting to change the name back to Horan International Airport, however despite some support from Fianna Fáil councillors the motion was defeated by six votes to three.
Speaking last summer Ireland West Airport Knock managing director Mr Joe Gilmore said the name, which was introduced in 2005, was chosen because it emphasises the location of the airport and this has proven to be successful for commercial reasons.
However Cllr Kilcoyne said that he did not believe a name change would compromise or damage the brand recognition of the airport. He stated that he believes prospective visitors are usually unaware of an airport title until they enter their destination in to a search engine.
He stated, “All the board have to do is add the name Horan. It could be called Horan Airport, Ireland West. The council have dealt with the board on numerous occasions, and we have sought to secure funding for the airport on numerous occasions so I would expect that the proposal will be taken seriously.”
However, Mr Gilmore has previously stated that he believed local representatives would be better advised fighting for greater funding rather than arguing over the name of the airport.
County Manager Peter Hynes said the present name was chosen in order to increase the familiarity of tourists with the region after extensive market research illustrated that it would have the most impact. He added that the name Ireland West Airport Knock was gaining the “highest possible visibility in marketing terms.”
He continued, “The name wasn’t chosen to belittle Monsignor Horan in any way. The memory of Monsignor Horan will be honoured later this year when a bronze statue is unveiled at the airport in his memory. Certainly every effort to honour his memory is being taken by the board.”
Cllr Kilcoyne concluded, ”As the man who founded Knock airport I feel very strongly that his name should be incorporated in to the title. Airports are generally being named in honour of people who have done remarkable work in a region such as John Lennon Airport and George Best Belfast City Airport. Monsignor Horan did a lot more than those people, he built the airport.”