Ireland’s version of Lourdes, Our Lady of Knock draws pilgrims, mostly Irish Catholic, in droves. It all stems from a day in August 1879 when two young local girls said they saw Joseph, Mary, and St. John standing in bright light in front of the southern tower of the parish church. Soon, 13 other witnesses claimed to have seen the same thing. Before long, miracles were occurring fast and furious, as sick and lame visitors to the church were pronouncing themselves healed. Knock came to the world’s attention in 1979, when Pope John Paul II visited the shrine. More than 10,000 pilgrims still visit every year, and during Novena week in August (marking the anniversary of the miracle), the shrine holds special twice-daily ceremonies and other commemorative events. There’s not much to the town of Knock on the whole—it sits unspectacularly at the intersection of the N17 and R323 roads—but it’s filled with increasingly large, modern religious structures, including a huge circular basilica that seats 7,000 and contains artifacts or furnishings from every county in Ireland. The grounds also hold a folk museum (with a few letters relating to the original testimonies) and a religious bookshop.
- Frommer's Staff