Virgin On The Ridiculous



Pilgrims at Church of St. John the Baptist in Knock, Co. Mayo, 1879

On this day a century ago, 15 people in Knock, Co Mayo claimed to have beheld apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist.

They were taken seriously.


Simon Hall writes:

It was a dark, wet night, exactly one-hundred and thirty-six years ago to the day, on 21st August, 1879, when a small group of people claimed to witness a strange apparition in Knock, Co. Mayo.

A Commission of Inquiry was quickly established by the Catholic Church in October of the same year, led by the well-known scholar Canon Ulick Bourke, which found that the witness testimonies were both “trustworthy and satisfactory.”

I find differently.

All told, there were fifteen eye-witnesses, many directly related to one another. The primary witnesses, in the sense that they allege to have seen the apparition without any prompting from anybody else, were Mary McLoughlin, Mary Byrne, Mrs. Hugh Flatley, and Patrick Walsh.

The other observers were secondary only in so far as they were summoned by others, whereupon they witnessed the scene as described. It’s clear that they were told what to expect, and, as we shall see, some never bothered to stay around for any length of time.

The first witness, Mary McLoughlin, housekeeper to the parish priest, Rev. Archdeacon Bartholomew Cavanagh, saw a number of “strange figures” at the gable end of the local chapel at about 7.30pm. Strangely, she passed on by, assuming they were newly procured statues.

She proceeded to the house of Mary Byrne and, after a period of about half an hour, the two returned in the direction of the chapel. Straining credulity, it seems that Ms. McLoughlin never once mentioned the odd statues.

Mary Byrne makes this abundantly clear in her deposition to the Commission, as if to dispel any notion that the housekeeper had been the one to suggest their presence: “I had never heard from Miss McLoughlin about the vision…The first I learned of it was on coming…from my mother’s house…at the distance of three hundred yards or so from the church.”

The two women profess to have seen three figures: the Blessed Virgin Mary in the middle, clothed in white, and crowned; St. Joseph to her right, inclining reverentially towards her; and St. John the Evangelist to her left, holding a book.

It seems as though Mary and Joseph were easily recognisable, requiring no explanation for their identification. However, they managed to recognise John the Evangelist from his statue in the nearby chapel of Lecanvey, close to Westport.

This is ante-Diluvial logic. Clearly the sculptor could not have known the saint’s exact likeness. They also claimed that the figure wore a bishop’s mitre, but the mitre, although it has its precursors, is first mentioned, and first depicted, in the eleventh century. It was not known in the first century.

One can, of course, choose to believe that these manifestations move in mysterious ways, representing themselves in a manner best understood by their audience. It just seems awfully convenient that John was identifiable from a nearby statue.

What of the other primary witnesses? Mrs. Flatley independently witnessed the vision at about 8pm, though she also mistook them for statues, and went on her merry way.

Patrick Walsh witnessed only a “very bright light” about half a mile away from the chapel. Presumably he was too far distant to discern any detail. In any case, he neglects to provide any more information. One is forced to ask, though: if the light was so bright that it was visible for miles around, it seems strange that the vision could be mistaken for mere statues at close range.

The other witnesses all learned of the apparition through Mary McLoughlin and Mary Byrne. One such witness, a five year old boy, was able to state nothing more than he saw some images and the light and “heard people talk about them.”

The most elaborate description, involving an altar and a lamb and a cross, comes from Patrick Hill, a boy of fifteen. As if to constrain his wild imaginings, the others contradict him, and flatly deny seeing a cross.

In addition, the timeline of events, as recorded in their witness statements, is confused, but allowances must be made as regards time, given the miraculous circumstances.

Another curiosity is the fact that nine of the witnesses explicitly state that they left the scene, despite its seemingly miraculous nature. One observer, Patrick Byrne, states soberly that he “remained only ten minutes, and then [he] went away.”

Likewise, Dominick Byrne, Senior, remained “only one quarter of an hour.” Frankly, I’ve stayed longer watching an episode of Coronation Street. This criticism was answered at the time by one witness, Bridget Trench, who claimed she would never have left the chapel if she thought the vision would eventually disappear.

I find this difficult to credit. If you were witness to what one of the fifteen described as “the biggest sight that ever he witnessed in his life,” would you head for the hills after a few short minutes, notwithstanding the rain?

Eventually, Mary McLoughlin went to fetch her employer, the parish priest Rev. Cavanagh. Now, he knew Ms. McLoughlin better than most, but “appeared to make nothing of what I said, and consequently he did not go.”

Once the whole thing took off, however, Rev. Cavanagh, not wanting to be completely left out, claimed to see Our Lady in the privacy of the parochial house.

We must also examine these reports in the context of their time, coming, as they are, at a time of great uncertainty in post-Famine Ireland, with the success of disestablishmentarianism, the rise of Fenianism, and the violence of the tenant Land Wars.

They came also in the aftermath of the dogmatic declaration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary by Pope Pius IX in 1854, and in the wake of similar apparitions in Lourdes, in southern France, in 1858. Nothing ever happens in isolation.

Subsequently, a number of sceptics, including Father Francis Lennon, Professor of Science at Maynooth University, and, separately, a body of some twenty priests, attempted to recreate the apparition using a magic lantern, an early type of image projector, but with limited success. Ultimately, though, what is more likely: that a miracle occurred, or that the eyes of the onlookers deceived them?

It seems far more plausible that one dull, dark, wet night, the village gossip saw a bright light of some description next to the chapel. She interpreted this in the form of Our Lady, straddled by Joseph and John, and encouraged a local girl to go forth and spread the word.

The young Mary Byrne did so amongst her immediate family, and some of these people saw various strange things. In the subsequent hours and days, false memories were forged in the excitement.

Now, there’s a Basilica where there once stood a chapel. It was either this, some form of mass hallucination, or it was worse, it was conscious fraud. After all, Mary McLoughlin has something of John B Keane’s Moll about her, the archetypal manipulative housekeeper.

Simon Hall is a freelance journalist based in Dublin.

Knavery At Knock (Simon Hall, TheSkeptik)

Pic via

128 thoughts on “Virgin On The Ridiculous

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    Yes it’s baloney but the story won Mayo an airport and a rake of tourists every year. Probably the only thing they’ll ever win.

      1. ollie

        So what the writer of this piece is saying is:
        1. Mayo people marry their cousins which causes them to see things.
        2. The image of St. John the Evangelist can’t be correct becsue he was dressed in clothing that was only invented after he died.
        3. Mayo people like to walk in the rain.
        4. Rev. Cavanagh claimed to see Our Lady in the privacy of the parochial house….. on the skirting I assume?

        Of more importance that some fairytale is:
        1. Mayo can’t win the All Ireland because of a curse
        2. Knock airport can’t survive without state funding while sick children can’t get their treatment funded
        3. There are too many airports in Ireland. If Knock can’t survuve wothout government funding it should be closed down.
        4. I was in Knock Shrine once, it was full of loud drunken travellers.
        5. I was in Lourdes once, it was a humbling experience.

        1. Janet

          Ah yeah that’s right, shut it down. Sure the west doesn’t need any transport links – sure can’t we all drive to Dublin!


          1. All the good ones fly south for winter

            Yes. Or get the bus / train until such a time as the airport is economically viable enough to support itself?

          2. Seriously

            Isn’t Knock Airport bang in the middle of Galway City Airport and Shannon Airport?

            not sure if you could have a more convenient part of the country to find another airport.

    1. Odis

      “All told, there were fifteen eye-witnesses, many directly related to one another.” – This strikes me as the norm in Mayo – in fairness.

      1. ABM

        I’m surprised there’s been no mention of the “septic tank” third tri-mester aborted foetuses (minus their organs) disposed of underneath the shrine. There must have been many witnesses (under journalist privilige, no doubt) if it was published in the Oirish Times. The secret septic tank would explain why Knock hasn’t been working since 1990. Then again, it may have something to do with the gender imbalance and societal oppression imposed on the local transvestites, but further study is required by Dublin academia to establish statistical significance.

      1. scottser

        As a dub, i feel it only fair to tell you that kerry are going to run away with sam again this year.

  2. Jimmee

    I love reading forensic disseminations like these of what everyone knows are bullshit stories but all the same expertly discredited.

    1. newsjustin

      Was it though. He’s sown doubt, of course, but it’s still just a case of believing or not believing these people from long ago. It helps that they were ignorant peasant people an we are sophisticated young go-getters.

        1. newsjustin

          Perhaps. But I genuinely think that being upset that other people believe it has far more of an impact on ones life.

          1. NotTheBogeyMan

            You genuinely think that being upset that other people believe has far more impact? BS.
            In the majority, these people who believe get to set political agendas, get to decide over the right to travel, get to decide whether my kid gets the option not to go to a faith school, get to be a financial drain in dedicating time and resources worshipping the sky wizard that could be put to good use in society.
            And plenty of other reasons that have a greater impact than someone being upset.

          2. Clampers Outside!

            At least their upset is an upset over something in the real world and not some purportedly hipster bearded sky fairy flying about omnipresently in some shrowd that shoulda got the Vanish treatment over two millenia ago, ya know, like.

          3. Clampers Outside!

            That Dawkins site is some bag o’ bull alright. Not sure what an internet atheist is…. is that like a person who is vocally atheist online but goes to penance after? :)

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        Like aliens kidnapping rednecks for a good old anal probing, apparitions have been in short supply since the cameraphone became prevalent. You’d think with all these doubters, “God” would do some proper PR, like smite a few rapist priests in the middle of St Peter’s Square of a Sunday morning, cure a few kids of cancer and stop El Niño trashing the gaff. But apparently, he’s too busy being a vindictive git, inflicting natural disasters on already impoverished countries because gays can get married.

        1. newsjustin

          Relax Daisy.

          “You believe because you have seen me. Happy are those who have not seen, yet believe.”

          I’m not a big fan of Knock either, but I think it’s funny that people go all CSI on it.

          1. Daisy Chainsaw

            I could say the same thing about the existence of Santa and Unicorns. We give up childish beliefs in some centuries old stories and the existence of some supernatural characters, yet we’re expected to believe unquestioningly in other centuries old stories and supernatural characters because those that perpetuate it belong to a slick, well funded organisation. It’s odd that in modern times we’re threatened with horror stories of perpetual damnation for slight transgressions against a needy deity who demands our unquestioning devotion at all times, but Frankenstein, Dracula, Aladdin, Cinderella are definitely fictional whereas Jewish men called Peter, Mark, Matthew etc are real and a guy’s wife turned to a statue and a virgin gave birth to a child who was also his own father.

          2. Newsjustin

            Daisy, you’ll find that there’s pretty good consensus that people like Peter and, in fact, Jesus actually lived and breathed in 1st century Galillee.

    1. newsjustin

      I’ve heard this claim before – but Simon Hall doesn’t mention it in his investigation above, only that one was used afterwards to try to recreate it.

    1. newsjustin

      “pray to her body” Not quite.

      He’s suggested her grave be moved to a place where it might remain and be accessible for years to come….away from a building site.

      Similar to the recent move of the remains of Thomas Kent.

      1. well

        ““pray to her body” Not quite.”

        They’re going up there to pray and hope some magic rubs of on them so their cancer gets cured , they come into some money , or go to heaven.

        They’re not going up to pay their respects. to young girl that died a hundred years ago, because if they cared that much they would be in Tuam paying respects.

    2. ollie

      Wel well well, you are very sceptical of the Faith. Just because arsenic was used to treat TB and just because arsenic is a preservative doesn’t exclude the possibility that this girl’s body has been preserved by God so we can pray at her graveside.
      Science over religion, how dare you!

      1. well

        Oh that its explains it, i knew arsenic had those preservative effects, i didn’t know it was used to treat TB though.

  3. Formerly known as

    FFS………….how embarrassing. I suppose religions rely on people like that.

  4. Rugbyfan

    If it happened today they would be laughed at.
    Still Knock town has made millions out of it over the years!
    More medals in Knock than the GAA team have!

    1. ReproBertie

      I’m sure they’d be laughed at but they’d have believers too. The moving statues were only 30 years ago and wasn’t there a holy stump in Limerick about 6 years ago?

      1. Sam

        Ah, yes, The Holy Stump, 6 years already, and no American scandal-managing bishops to hold a Novena over it…
        Them feckers in Knock get everything.

  5. Atticus

    I like that the priest initially dismissed the apparitions and then when he realised that this thing was a goer he wanted a piece of the action. “Oh yeah, I’ve being seeing this sh1t for ages.”

  6. Stewart Curry

    Of course it’s nonsense but as long as people aren’t deferring actual proper medicine in their search for miracles what’s the big deal? It’s a nice part of the country to visit. I wonder do they get an exemption from water charges?

  7. ReproBertie

    “She proceeded to the house of Mary Byrne and, after a period of about half an hour, the two returned in the direction of the chapel. Straining credulity, it seems that Ms. McLoughlin never once mentioned the odd statues.”

    I don’t think this strains credulity at all. Maybe the local gossip or the news she was bringing to Mary Byrne was much more interesting than a bunch of new statues. It’s only with hindsight that we would find it strange that she didn’t mention the apparition. I’m in no way saying the Knock stuff is real, just poking a small hole in Simon Hall’s piece.

    1. budgie

      Agreed, his use of flowery language in an attempt to cover up that his point was rubbish strains the credulity of his rant.

    2. Christopher

      It was Knock in 1915. What gossip would be more juicy than some new statues outside the chapel? Seriously she would have been all over them even if it was raining.

      1. ReproBertie

        It was Knock in 1915. What could be more interesting than new staues? A sick cow. A pregnancy. A woman seen out with a man not her husband. A telegram from the front arriving in a house down the road resulting in herself and Mary Byrne rushing (by 1915 standards) back down the road and past the church again to visit the house that received the telegram.

        It’s not unheard of for people to forget bits and pieces they were going to mention in conversation when the conversation takes another direction or is derailed by a change of topic. (I know a friend who’s husband works overseas and who became so fed up with forgetting to pass on news that she has taken to keeping a notebook by the phone to make note of things she wants to tell him when they get a chance to talk.) Perhaps the journey back down the road reminded her of the new statues but before she said anything Mary saw them.

    3. ollie

      Fair point Repro. MAyo must have been a bleak place in them days. population decimated by famine, a serious lack of education and a priest who who have been god like in the community.
      I’m sure that the witnesses did see what they said they seen, the priest would have been more than happy for this to be publicised.

      I had a few visions when i read this piece………….. the holy stone of Clonrichert, Len Brennan running up the garden with his cloak spread wide, the crayon pic on the skirting, and a black lady I witnessed in Lourdes grotto spreadeagled on the ground in a hysterical state rubbing her dead son’s clothes on a rock.
      Religion is strange.

    4. Simon Hall

      I should have explained that a little better, but it’s clear from her testimony that, as she passed, Mary McLoughlin found the sight of these figures extraordinary. She says, for example: “I saw a wonderful number of strange figures or appearances at the gable,” “I was wondering to see there such an extraordinary group,” “I saw a white light about them; I thought the whole thing strange.” She says this, prior to her visiting Mary Byrne. It does strain credulity that she wouldn’t have mentioned it, particularly on their way back towards the chapel.

      It also strikes me that Mary Byrne puts too fine a point on it in her own testimony, making sure that it is understood by all and sundry that she saw the apparition all by herself. It just strikes me as contrived.

      1. ReproBertie

        Maybe she was doubting her self and wanted to see if Mary Byrne saw them too before talking about the wonderful glowy people she’d seen by the church.

        1. Simon Hall

          That’s a very astute point. It’s definitely possible, but to my mind unlikely, taking into account their combined account of things. In the end, this all comes down to weighing the evidence of their statements, which can be quite subjective. On balance, though, I find the whole thing suspect.

          1. ReproBertie

            In fairness Simon, of course it’s suspect. It’s people who were dead for centuries appearing on a wall of a church in a country they had never heard of.

        2. Simon Hall

          To be more specific, it’s unlikely because she claims in her statement that she did not think there was anything supernatural at work. She thought it was an odd glowing statue, so she wasn’t doubting her own eyes at this stage. Part of the problem is that her statement is internally inconsistent, in that she describes it simultaneously as both normal and paranormal.

      2. ReproBertie

        Or maybe Mary Byrne told her to hold her whist there and not be telling people that Mary L told Mary B what she saw because then they’d be saying Mary B saw nothing but went along with what Mary L told her when Mary L most certainly did see something and she’d be very clear on that point.

        1. ReproBertie

          Should read “when Mary B most certainly did see something”. Too many Marys in this story.

  8. nellyb

    It’s benign, let people enjoy the fairytale. Until they start calling to arms.
    Secular history isn’t more precious about facts. Things get written, rewritten, deleted and added.

  9. ollie

    The story of lil’ nellie is fascinating. Especially this piece:
    “She died on February 2, 1908, at 4pm. Witnesses said she appeared to see something at the foot of her bed which caused her to smile and her eyes to well with tears. ”
    The thing is:
    I seen my mother die. she also stared at the end of the bed, smiled and her eyes welled with tears.
    Apparently this is very common when people are on the verge of death.
    Should I dig her up and say a few prayers?

  10. donkey_kong

    the author reminds me why i hate atheists and anti-religion crusaders whilest being of no religion myself

      1. donkey_kong

        yeah true but it was donkeys years ago witnessed by simple folk who wouldn’t have imagined some smug ass with access to the interweb would be grilling them in their graves over their account on that night.
        Maybe the priest or the Vatican didn’t ask the right question or record all the answers.. Its a bit of a dick move to interrogate the recording of the event over 100 years later esp when the parties aren’t here to answer the charge.

          1. Annie

            Ignore – Donkeykong’s shtick is studied contrarianism a la low-rent Brendan O’Neill. If you’re for it – Donkey will be agin it – with a set-your-clock level of predictability and a dollop of coarse language.

  11. Jess

    Its absurd that people think Mary was in Knock in 1879. Everyone knows she was stuck in that tree stump in wicklow at the time.

  12. ABM

    I suspect the skeptic in question has never been to Knock.

    If he think he knows better, perhaps he should write to the bishop with his (apparently) authorative and informed opinions for consideration? Maybe write a book or organise a lecture instead of spewing the usual anti-church rhetoric (of a nasty Irish Times variety) from his WordPress? Does this guy have full access to all the primary and secondary sources? A world-reknowned expert on apparitions eh? Or maybe just another internet crank with 21st century Irish degrees coming out of every orifice and a peculiar obsession for internal church matters?

    Well I’ve been to Knock and I see how much spiritual sustinance 10,000s of pilgrims get from visiting the shrine. I’ve been to Walsingham too. And I hope to get to Lourdes at some point. Not everyone in Ireland is a healthy, metropolitan, white 30-something, ex-Catholic, average chump with a personal blog and a very big opinion about things that have no impact on their day-to-day lives. Nor has he the power or means to do anything about it (by all accounts).

    Those who believe the universe was “created” by a big bang -type cosmic accident are usually high on opinion (couched in pseudo-scientific language) and have very little to say about the great mysteries of the world (such as creation of the universe, new life, love, free will, natural beauty, etc.). They look into their telescopes and see not God’s beauty, but problems that haven’t been figured out yet. If only we had big enough brains. Maybe there’s a reason God gave us brains that are a certain size +/- a few inches?

      1. ABM

        Medjugorje is only a non constat shrine (JWT rarely mention this). Knock is the real thing and has a constat de supernaturalitate status.

      1. Zarathustra

        I agree with some of what ABM says, particularly regarding the spiritual sustenance some people gain from their faith and visiting Knock, and, if it makes them a better person in life and the community where they live, then it’s a good thing; however, the comment was unnecessarily sarcastic in parts which kind of negated the valid points he made.

    1. The Old Boy

      Could it be? A genuine apparition of ABM, after all this time and so many pale imitations? Bodger, build a shrine, and I’ll knock out the usual range of pilgrim merchandise, tanner a time.

    2. RobinBoy

      I find it somewhat interesting that throughout history “apparitions” and “miracle visits” somewhat died when technology to record them got better and better, and only not (mainly due to cgi) does it seem they are making comebacks.

      I paraphrase Mr Scrooge when I say there’s more of gravy than of grave about these things.

      1. ABM

        Not true. There are many documented cases of miracles in recent years. There is a whole office dedicated to such investigations. Investigative processes and miracle classifications have been in place for a long, long time (probably a lot longer than you have been alive).

        1. Annie

          While this is true, there is a whiff of parody about some of the ABM postings on here. Is fake ABM alive and well?

    3. donkey_kong

      great reply ABM , better than I could muster but I agree 100%

      some people have a strange obsession with the church instead of just moving on and enjoying their lives.

      1. Sam

        Yes, we should all simply put the past in the past, cos all the abusers of power and gullibility are gone… oh, wait.

        We get on with our lives, just like people living on a wild frontier got on with their day to day tasks, but they kept an eye out for wolves too.

      2. Annie

        Lol – physicians heal thyselves.

        You two goons are just the reverse of a rather annoying and murky coin. One would pay more attention to your musings, were they not predictable fly-to-the-proverbial deliberate contrarianism, Donkey Kong. A sort of low rent Brendan O’Neill without the latter’s commendable vocabulary.

        As for ABM, another indolent fly-to-the-proverbial troll responding with a telling alacrity for nigh on years now at any and every time something to do with his three causes celebres crops up on here: religion, homosexuality and abortion. That has the whiff of obsession to me – that and rather a lot of time on his hands.

        Wind your necks in.

      3. Daisy Chainsaw

        “some people have a strange obsession with the church”

        And the church has a strange obsession with me. They won’t permit me to leave their odd cult, that I had no say in joining. They tell me 2 people of the same gender loving each other is abnormal, while forcing their footsoldiers to abstain from procreation or activities associated with it when they join the ranks. Even thinking about sex is something that will see me damned to a fiery hell for all eternity – no remission, no prospect of rehabilitation if I don’t confess to one of the forced abstentionist footsoldiers about my “sinful desires”.

        And don’t get me started on the weird Flesh eating, blood drinking cannibalism/vampirism thing. Such odd fetishes.

      4. Miami Dolphin's Barn

        donkey_kong “Not in anyway Religous” but fully supportive of ABM’s ridiculous post about Sky Daddy, his “creation” & expertise in apparitions which is like saying I’m a professor in Unicorn behaviour.

    4. Sam

      A world-reknowned expert on apparitions eh?

      Is that a similar qualification to being a world-renowned expert on leprechauns and ogre attacks?

      Or maybe just another internet crank …
      Perhaps you should take note the beam in your own eye there ABM

      Those who believe the universe was “created” by a big bang -type cosmic accident are usually high on opinion
      Yes, unlike those humble people who believe a magician did it, and who are fully respectful of people who don’t share their beliefs *cough* inquisition, burning at the stake, etc, etc.

      They look into their telescopes and see not God’s beauty, but problems that haven’t been figured out yet.

      And it is a darned good thing that they do see problems and attempt to solve them.
      If we saw all as god’s will, and inquired no further we would still be praying over people to expel demons rather than giving them modern medicine.
      We would still be thinking earthquakes are unpredictable signs of god’s anger instead of having invented something called seismology, from which we know the places most at risk, and have alert systems in many places to warn people about volcanic eruptions, tsunamis etc.

      Thanks to our curiosity and ingenuity and self reliance, we’ve come out of the caves, survived the ice age, and eradicated a host of afflictions.
      We’re not going back to being a state of ignorant learned helplessness, begging for someone to tell us it will all be better if we wish really hard and in the right method.

    5. NotTheBogeyMan

      What a load of rubbish.
      Access to primary and secondary sources? I doubt it. Entitled to question whether a gang of folks saw a ghost? Very much so. (Why do we laugh at someone who saw a ghost in the old abandoned house, but actually believe it when someone sees a saint outside a church?)
      Spiritual substinance? Just have a think to yourself. And if there is something wrong, go fix it instead of hoping aka praying to an invisible friend
      Last paragraph is the biggest ever pile of BS. So the universe wasn’t ‘created’ by a big bang cosmic accident… you think it was ‘created’ by god i.e. magic. You have no idea how much you have benefitted from the actions, discoveries and work of people who ‘look into their telescopes and see not God’s beauty, but problems that haven’t been figured out yet.’
      Read a book FFS

      1. ABM

        Actually, it was a Catholic priest you should thank for coming up with the Big Bang [there, I even capitalised it for you out of respect for your firmly held belief system] theory.

    6. New Person A

      Priesty men spouting guff
      Don’t get daughter up the duff
      But if so it is gods will
      Mary Kate didn’t take her pill

  13. Bb

    My understanding is that the parish priest hired a projector from a shop that used to be up by dublin castle. At the time ireland only had penny candle projectors but this shop was innovative and had Ireland’s first limelight projectors. Tests were done at the time when trying to verify the miracle with only a penny candle projector from the school to the church and it was concluded that a projector could not have produced the apparition. But they never tested with a limelight.

    A descendant of the shop owner told me this many years ago. He did not want to say it publicly. He is a man of outstanding integrity and took the view that he did not wish to upset people’s practice of religion. He did write a letter to John Charles McQuaid but did not receive a response. I may have a detail or two wrong on this as I was told this by the man years ago. But that is the gist of it.

    1. Zarathustra

      I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here Bb, but are you implying that someone with access to Ireland’s only Limelight Projector, could have travelled from Dublin to Knock to intentionally fool the locals?

      1. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

        @ Zarathustra;

        Eh, where would YOU go if you were trying a trick like this?
        -You wouldn’t stay in Dublin, that’s for sure.

        You’d go to some backward place like Knock.
        Or Limerick.
        Or Cork.

        Just sayin’

  14. Annie

    Anyone remember the recent “apparition” of the Virgin’s image on a tree stump in Rathkeale? They were literally bussing in the faithful to venerate the stump. Plus ca change, eh?

  15. Peter81

    There’s something very creepy about that photo, it reminds me of that scene in Blair Witch where the guy is facing the wall.

  16. Bacchus

    I think what this article proves more than anything is that Bloggers are really appalling writers. Apart from the self importance of the piece it extrapolates and imposes unproven conclusions in almost every paragraph.
    Most of us already knew Knock was nonsense, now we know this self appointed “Skeptik” (bleugh) is a poor substitute for a prophet.

  17. CupofTea

    If it was truly the spirit of mary and the gang. suely your one would have noticed 3 middle eastern type people standing around a church. Or even that the statues didnt look like the mary you would expect.

    1. John

      The usual anti-church guff that was popular around the time HRH Mary Robinson was buying jonnies up North.

      Have the third wave feminists (and their new fanbase of orbiting white knight camera operators) who come up with this low quality clap-trap think there’ll be a big job at the UN for them afterwards off the back of having a vagina? Or maybe they’re just above taking a job in a Hollywood film as a BDSM sub?

      How cool it must be to be in your 30s in Ireland perpetually rebelling against the evil priests and the evil nuns. If they sat down and had a cup of tea with one of them, they might find another (more interesting) topic to write a film about. You know, the kind of films that people might want to watch.

      1. Cloud

        One Million Dubliners is one of the best Irish docs in years, seriously doubt they’ll be out to do a hatchet job on Knock.

  18. The Bishop

    In the late 1960s the professor of Logic and Psychology at the National University (University College Dublin), Rev. Feichin O’Doherty, told a postgraduate student that, in line with his reputation for investigating alleged parapsychological reports for the Irish bishops, he had been asked to investigate the reported events at Knock. O’Doherty said that there was a document in an archive of the diocese of Tuam in which the writer from the North, many years later, gave an account of how his brother, a policeman in Knock at the time of the claimed apparition, had projected an image on the gable wall of the Church from a local school, using a “magic lantern”.

  19. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

    @ The Bishop;
    That line;
    ‘gave an account of how his brother, a policeman in Knock at the time of the claimed apparition’

    Did this happen in a pub?

    1. The Bishop

      No. The actual document is in the archives of the Archdiocese of Tuam. Rev O’Doherty was a professor of Logic and Pyschology in UCD and a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin.

      Think about it: the apparition was weird insofar as they neither spoke nor moved. Hence the projected image.

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