The Knockmore Apparitions
One hundred and forty years ago, on 21 August 1879, images
of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist appeared on the gable wall of the parish church in Knock, County Mayo. Behind the three figures was an altar flanked by angels, and on the altar were a cross and a lamb.
[CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
This apparition, in addition to establishing Knock as a place of pilgrimage, triggered a series of apparitions at other churches across Ireland (see The Tree of Lights at the Bog Chapel), including the church in Knockmore.
The following is taken from The Freeman’s Journal of 11 September 1880.
BALLINA FRIDAY – Since Sunday last people have been flocking in thousands to the chapel of Knockmore, within five miles of Ballina, where, it is alleged, the most wonderful spiritual manifestations have taken place and are nightly recurring. Seeing that a number of persons were leaving Ballina last evening, I proceeded there by car, arriving at about seven p.m. For the first time for more than a month very wetting rain began to fall, yet the road was everywhere crowded with people proceeding towards Knockmore Chapel to see the apparitions. I questioned several persons, all of whom attested to having seen or heard of the visions. One old woman named Mary Montgomery said she had seen the visions on three different occasions – Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, and in various forms.
It was stated that on Sunday, after the celebration of Holy Communion, the form of the Blessed Virgin, bearing in her arms the Holy Child Jesus, appeared against the front of the altar, where it remained for some minutes, and was witnessed by hundreds assembled in the chapel. Later on it appeared in another part of the chapel, over one of the Stations of the Cross, attended by two angels. The Virgin raised and waved her hands several times, as if blessing the people.
On Tuesday evening, which was the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, the most wonderful sights are alleged to have been seen. It is attested by hundreds that while the priest was repeating the Rosary a man appeared palpably on the altar, who the people say was the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He was a person of the most beautiful appearance, wearing a long beard, and having a profusion of curled hair over his forehead.
It is said he went round the officiating clergyman, looking intently at him and bowing towards him on each side. Saints Joseph and John appeared in company with the first figure. The Virgin appeared several times after this, nearly always accompanied by angels.
When I arrived at the chapel I met the Rev. John Conway, the pastor of the place, a most scholarly man, of the highest attainments, having held for many years the Professorship of St. Murdoch’s Seminary, Ballina, from which he was lately promoted to the living of Knockmore by his bishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Conway. He said that up to the present he had himself had no personal experience of the visions, but that very strong statements indeed had been made.
Proceeding to the chapel, I found it so thronged that some persons were unable to find standing-room. The greatest excitement and expectation prevailed among the people, and several times during the night there were strange manifestations, including a hand which appeared against the altar. A most respectable man who knelt at the altar rails, within six yards of where the hand appeared, attested in the strongest manner that he saw it as plainly as his own, and actually counted the fingers upon it.
At one time a dim halo of light passed round the entire building, which is cruciform, and was followed by the shadow of two persons brought out in strange distinctness upon the wall, and which passed with a peculiar movement from the south aisle until they stood close by the altar, from the steps of which the priest was watching them intently, at the same time beseeching the people not to become unduly excited, but to pray to and thank God for this special manifestation. The people remained in the chapel till after midnight praying devoutly.
As I am writing this the people are leaving in large numbers for Knockmore and several strangers have already arrived.
The Freeman’s Journal, 11 September 1880