First transatlantic pilgrimage flight from New York lands in Knock

The first transatlantic pilgrimage flight to Knock Shrine has landed.

The flight from JFK was carrying 178 pilgrims, including the Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Knock Airport caters for about 700,000 passengers annually and is worth around €130m to the local economy.

The event marks the return of transatlantic flights to the west after an absence of eight years.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny was there to greet the first passengers as they arrived.

He said: "They've come here not just to see scenery, but to participate in a pilgrimage, and I hope in the land of St Patrick and the place of apparition of Mary they get a deep appreciation of what that spiritualism is, the kind of people we are and the land that we inhabit."

Speaking from Knock, chairman of the airport Joe Kennedy said the flight marked the return of transatlantic flights to the west of Ireland after an absence of eight years.

Mr Kavanagh and Knock Airport MD Joe Gilmore said discussion were ongoing to bring more regular transatlantic flights back to the airport, specifically from New York and Boston.

An anticipated 4,000 people will attend a special midday Mass in the Basilica at Knock. The event will be broadcast live on RTÉ One television at 12pm.

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