Day 42 – Wednesday, 31st May, 2006

Today is a fairly long journey, and we do not have a lot of time for stops. The weather is absolutely beautiful – sunny with a cool breeze. Today, I feel really miserable, and I think Russ is about one day behind me in symptoms. Mum is on about the same wavelength as I am.

We stopped for morning tea at the Cliffs of Moher. These are accessed along a steep path, and the view was worth a visit. However, I do think that both the Australian Bight and the Great Ocean Road is more spectacular.

We then went via the Limestone plateau of the Burren along to Galway Bay. Now, this section is amazing. How they manage to farm anything in this region is fascinating. One Englishman (name forgotten) during the time of displacement of the Irish by the English, told the king to send all the Irish to this area as there is not enough water to drown in, not enough trees to hang on, and not enough ground to grow a thing. The photos of this area are worth a second look.

Galway is very definitely a tourist town. It was quaint but not our cup of tea. This is the town of the Lynch Stone, commemorating the day Mayor James Lynch Fitzstephen hanged his own son for murder. This area has been featured in the movie “The Quiet Man”.

Finally we came to Knock, which is a village that attracts millions of pilgrims annually from all over the world. The Apparition at Knock took place in 1879. This visitation took place in the evening and only lasted for three hours or so, and no words were spoken.

“On the evening of Thursday, 21 August 1879, two women from the small village of Knock, Mary McLoughlin and Mary Beirne, were walking near the local church when they noticed luminous figures at the gable end. As they got closer they realized there were three moving figures and that one of them looked like the Blessed Virgin.

They surmised that the others were St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist, and as it got darker Mary Beirne went off to alert her family, and so, soon other neighbours joined them in the pouring rain. As the crowd gathered they could also see an altar, with a young lamb on it, in front of a cross, while one boy saw angels over the altar, but they heard no sounds and no verbal message was given.

The apparition lasted for several hours, and was witnessed independently, as a globe of light, by a farmer who lived about a half mile away.

The happening at Knock was thoroughly investigated and it was proved that it could not have been produced by luminous paint or a “magic lantern.” A commission of enquiry was set up by the aged Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. McHale, but although it considered the witnesses reliable and trustworthy, the Archbishop made no definitive statement for or against the apparition.

However, over time Knock gradually gained official support from the Church, culminating in the Papal visit of 1979. The symbolism of the lamb, cross and altar has been seen as pointing to the sacrificial death of Christ and the Mass, and yet these were behind Mary in the apparition at Knock, suggesting that the focus was on her and her role as a mediator.”

The church has since erected statues and an altar, as apparently seen in the vision, at the end of the church, and built a structure around it. This allows people who do not wish to attend Mass, but who wish to see something of the apparition, to visit and/or pray in an area separate from the church building proper.

We then got back on the bus and headed for our overnight stay at Sligo. We had managed to find a pharmacy and get some cold and flu tablets, and some expectorant, but I was now thoroughly miserable. Ian, our tour director, was most kind. He suggested that we order our tea as room service, and facilitated this for us.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will be a bit better, but I am afraid that Russ will then feel truly miserable. Mum said she was fine to go down for tea. It turned out that Dad has an upset stomach and he did not make it through the meal. Once again, Ian was of great assistance to Mum in getting things settled.