No one without a ticket will get within two kilometres of the village of Knock on Sunday August 26th when Pope Francis visits the Shrine. That’s the clear message from Garda Superintendent Tom Calvey of Claremorris garda station.
Speaking to Midwest News he said the public with tickets for the occasion are being encouraged, where possible, to take public transport to the shrine.
Supt Calvey said generally people who access Knock by public transport will have a lot less walking to do than those who arrive in private cars on Sunday August 26th.
Irish Rail is expected to increase services to Claremorris on the day and bus transfers will be in place to transport pilgrims to Knock from the station.
Parish groups are being urged to travel by private mini bus or coach.
Talks are underway at present between Mayo county council and farmers in the area to establish additional carparking facilities in fields.
Supt Calvey explains that if ticket holders all travelled by car to Knock, it would require parking for in excess of 20,000 cars. He said 9,600 would take up 28km of hard shoulder to park. Therefore he said the message is, where possible, please use public transport.
He said there is already an increased garda operation at both the village of Knock and Ireland West Airport Knock, where Pope Francis will arrive on the Sunday morning.
He said that garda operation will be significantly increased closer to the visit.
The N17 is expected to be closed to traffic for up to 24 hours around the visit.
Pope Francis is due to arrive at Ireland West Airport Knock at 9.20am and be in the Church at Knock Shrine about twenty five minutes later . He will leave knock Shrine at 10.45am and will be back at the airport for an 11.10am flight to Dublin and onto the Mass for the World Meeting of Families that will be celebrated in the Phoenix Park in the afternoon.