Wogan wowed by grotto witness accounts

ONE of the world’s most famous broadcasters drew a “Blankety Blank” yesterday while seeking apparitions in Co Cork.

Terry Wogan, who is filming a new travel series for the BBC, was in Ballinspittle, but the suave one failed to move Our Lady.

Just a few days short of the 25th anniversary of the first apparition, he instead had to rely on details from witnesses who said they had seen the Blessed Virgin statue move over the years.

One of those filmed at the immaculately trimmed grotto was John Murray, a retired garda sergeant who said at first he was very sceptical.

A few days after the first apparition was witnessed by the local Daly and O’Mahony families, John said he and 400 other people saw the statue floating.

“I was so convinced this was a hoax that on my way to work the next morning I searched behind the statue and I tried to move it. It wouldn’t budge,” he said.

John explained to Terry Wogan that thousands flocked to the grotto in the coming weeks, reaching a peak of 20,000 on August 15 – the Feast of the Assumption.

“Terry feels the same as myself that faith is very important in a lot of situations, especially when somebody is sick. He didn’t ridicule what we had to say. He treated it very respectfully,” John said.

Patricia Bowen, one of the local committee who care for the grotto, told Terry she’d seen the face of Jesus appear over that of Our Lady’s on several occasions.

“People say that the light causes the statue to appear moving, but the light couldn’t make the face change to that of Our Lord,” she said.

After filming concluded Terry chatted with the grandmother-of-six and John Murray.

“He didn’t say he saw anything to us. But he did say he felt very privileged to be here, which was very nice. He said he adored places like this, Lourdes and Knock. He delights when people are uplifted by such things,” Ms Bowen said.

“This place will live on in history, it has to for it was so extraordinary what happened.”

Before leaving Terry also shook hands and spoke with Innishannon couple Patrick and Hilda Giltinan who come every day to say the rosary at the grotto.

Both have never seen the statue move, but explained they still have great devotion to Our Lady.

Terry said he was “up to his armpits” working on the series.

“We’ve been blessed with the weather and have been all over the place. We’ve been over to the Fastnet Rock, to Edenderry and Dublin and have actually spent a lot of time in Cork,” the 72-year-old broadcaster said.

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