Transatlantic flights return to Knock
ARCHBISHOP of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, will lead a group of pilgrims from his New York Diocese on the first Transatlantic Pilgrimage flight from JFK Airport to Ireland West Airport Knock in August.
The historic development was announced by the Rector of Knock Shrine, Fr Richard Gibbons, PP, this morning (Friday) in the Knock House Hotel in Knock Village. The service will be operated by Aer Lingus and will depart JFK Airport for Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK) on Saturday, August 8.
The announcement represents a historical development for the airport and the region, as it will be the first-ever transatlantic service operated by Aer Lingus from the US to IWAK and the first official chartered pilgrimage to Ireland’s National Marian Shrine.
The pilgrims, led by Cardinal Dolan, will spend eight days in the region in a specially tailored Pilgrimage programme that will showcase some of Ireland’s most historical spiritual sites, including a visit to Knock Shrine to open and participate in the National Public Novena in Knock.
The idea of a special pilgrimage flight to Knock was first muted two years ago by Fr Gibbons during a visit to New York for St Patrick’s Day and received huge support from Cardinal Dolan.
Fr Gibbons said the flight marked an important and historical step in the promotion of Knock Shrine at home and abroad and paid tribute to the support of Cardinal Dolan.
“It is hugely significant that the Archbishop of New York, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, is deepening its relationship with Knock Shrine and highlighting the spiritual heritage of Irish Americas especially in New York. It is 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,” he said.
Chairman of IWAK, Joe Kennedy said he was delighted to see the return of transatlantic flights to Knock after an absence of eight years and that he hopes it will be an important stepping stone in securing regular transatlantic services to the region in the future.
Declan Kearney, Director of Communications with Aer Lingus said the airline is delighted to have been chosen to provide the flights for the pilgrimage, while Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes said this was a significant step forward for the entire west of Ireland region.