Normally when I visit Ireland West Airport Knock, I’m flying out somewhere. It’s so convenient to Bundoran. Just over an hour up the road and a great choice of destinations with handy parking. There’s also an easy journey from the car to the airplane seat. I’m normally a straight to the gate person so I don’t take much time to look around. In fairness until I saw the “Airport Up In Knock” TV series on UTV recently, I didn’t realise there was a whole part of the airport I was missing!
— Shane Smyth 🎬🎙 (@shaneirishguy) November 21, 2016
However on this occasion I was picking up my two uncles who were flying in from the UK. I took the opportunity to meet marketing manager Audrey for a chat before the plane landed. We met in the really spacious upstairs restaurant (that I finally realised existed – see tweet above!). Audrey pointed out the exhibition area dedicated to the history of the airport and the main man himself whose vision saw an international airport built on top of a mountain in Mayo – Monsignor James Horan.
The restaurant and exhibition area look right out over the airfield. It offers a birdseye view of incoming planes landing on the third longest runway in the country (2340m). If you have time to browse through the displays, I would highly recommend it.
The first thing you’ll see is a massive screen offering live flight times. Here you can track the incoming planes on screen as they speed across the country. You could also of course look out the massive window to see the planes coming!.
There’s some really nice poignant memories of Monsignor Horan. He sadly passed away mere months after the official opening of his beloved airport in 1986. You can see the first sod that was turned on the project itself as well as the spade that turned it. There’s also his famous hat and reading glasses.
Top marks to those who have created this archive of newspaper articles, letters and mementos in the viewing area – if you have some spare time while waiting on a plane to land on a “foggy, boggy site in Barnacuige, County Mayo” then take some time out to educate yourself on one of the most unlikely but successful projects of mid 1980s recessionary west of Ireland.
by Shane Smyth