Henry's Songbook

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  • (Christy Moore)

    At the early age of thirty-eight, my mother said, Go west!
    Get up, says she, And get a job! Says I, I'll do my best
    I pulled on my wellingtons to march to Kiltimagh
    But I took a wrong turn in Charlestown and I ended up in Knock

    Once this quiet crossroads was a place of gentle prayer
    Where Catholics got indulgent once or twice a year
    You could buy a pair of rosary beads or get your candles blessed
    If you had a guilty conscience you could get it off your chest

    Then came the priest from Partry, Father Horan was his name
    Ever since he's been appointed Knock has never been the same
    Begod, says Jim, 'Tis eighty years since Mary was adout
    'Tis time for another miracle, and he blew the candle out

    From Fatima to Bethlehem and from Lourdes to Kiltimagh
    I've never seen a miracle like the airport up in Knock

    And to establish terra firma he drew up a ten year plan
    And he started running bingo around nineteen sixty-one
    He built a fabulous basilica upon the Holy Ground
    And once he had a focal point he started to expand

    Chip shops and bed and breakfasts sprung up overnight
    Once a place for quiet retreat, now it's a holy sight
    All sorts of fancy restaurants for every race and creed
    Where black and white and yellow pilgrims could get a mighty feed

    We had the Blessed Virgin here, Father Horan did declare
    And Foster and Allen, they appeared just over there
    Now do you mean to tell me, says he in total shock
    That I am not entitled to an auld airport here in Knock

    The TDs were lobbied and harrassed with talk of promised votes
    And people who'd been loyal for years spoke of changing coats
    Excommunication was threatened upon the flock
    Who said it was abortive building airports up in Knock

    Now everyone is happy and the miracle it's complete
    Father Horan's got his auld runway - and it's eighteen thousand feet
    All sorts of planes could land there, of that there's little doubt
    It'll be handy now for George Bush to knock Gadafi out

    From Fatima to Bethlehem and from Lourdes to Kiltimagh
    I've never seen a miracle like the airport up in Knock

    Now poor old Father Jim is gone to the airport in the sky
    And down on Barr na Cuiga he keeps a friendly eye
    On Ryanair and Aer Lingus as they fly to and fro
    We'll never see his likes again on the planes of sweet Mayo

    Did NATO donate the dough, my boys, did NATO donate the dough
    Did NATO donate the dough, my boys, did NATO donate the dough

    From Fatima to Bethlehem and from Lourdes to Kiltimagh
    I've never seen a miracle like the airport up in Knock

    (Foster & Allen - popular Irish folk duo)
    (TDs - Teachtarai Dail, Members of the Irish Parliament)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1984:] One day in 1983 I found myself with nothing to do so I took a little drive around Knock and what appeared before my eyes but a very, very long runway. I was so shocked by the situation that this song really wrote itself. (Christy Moore Songbook126 - see there for changes in lyrics)

  • [1994:] A hundred years ago there was two children going home from school, and they took a short cut across the fields, and the Blessed Virgin appeared to them ... (Intro Christy Moore)

  • [1996:] [Knock Airport] consists of a mile and a half of prime Jumbo-proof tarmac cut into a bog on the top of a hill in County Mayo, together with a simple terminal building, a control tower, a fire engine and a car park. It was 10 years old this week [...]. To appreciate the irony of this week's celebrations we have to cast our minds back to 1979 and Pope John Paul II's famous visit to Ireland. Being a Marian fanatic, it was inevitable that he would visit the shrine at Knock, erected to commemorate alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1879. Accordingly this 'one-horse town without the horse' had its 15 minutes of fame, after which the global-media caravan moved on and everyone went back to sleep. Everyone, that is, except for the parish priest, a formidable gent who had for years nursed an almighty grievance, namely that his was the only major Marian shrine in Europe without an airport, pilgrims for the transportation of. James Horan was a remarkable individual, 'a doer in a land of nay-sayers' as one of his obituaries described him. Recognising the Pope's visit as the best peg he was ever likely to get, Horan set about organising the construction of an international airport, complete with a runway long enough to take the biggest jets.

    His first step was to invite the Taoiseach to lunch. Charlie Haughey is a Mayo man and was at the time a Prime Minister in deep political trouble. [...] Horan emerged with a promise of 8 million for his airport. It was, people said, the most expensive meal Charlie Haughey ever ate. The truth is probably more prosaic [...]. Whatever the explanation, the airport project was viewed with incredulity, derision and outrage by the east-coast establishment which dominates the Republic as surely as its counterpart dominates the political life of the United States. Horan, however, turned this derision back on itself, firstly by mocking it and then by using it to cement local support for his dream. [...]

    In due course Haughey fell from power, a Fine Gael/Labour coalition government led by Garret Fitzgerald came into office and the airport ran out of money with the runway two-thirds completed. The new administration loftily refused to throw good money after bad. The weed-strewn ruins of the project, they reasoned, would stand forever as a cautionary monument to Charlie's ruthless profligacy and the folie de grandeur of peasants who had the temerity to aspire to tarmac rather than the grass strip more appropriate to their provincial status.

    Which only goes to show how little these eastern grandees knew about James Horan. He turned round and put the screws on the local Catholic community, as well as the Irish diaspora and the European Community and eventually came up with enough cash to finish the runway and build what was not so much a terminal building as a terminal shed. Even then, the establishment had one final shot in its locker. This 'airport' was all very well, they said, sniffily, but who will fly into it? Certainly not Aer Lingus, the state carrier, which viewed Knock with the same fastidious disdain as the government. At this point, Horan and his supporters were genuinely stumped. They were saved by Ryanair, a new independent carrier which had been set up the previous year, and which was eager to find some way - any way - of scoring off Aer Lingus. Ryanair started regular scheduled services from the UK to Knock and it - and the airport - has never looked back.

    James Horan died 10 years ago, but at least lived long enough to see his dream realised. What he - and Charlie Haughey - understood is an economic truth which has been all but buried under the weight of Thatcherite and Reaganite dogma, namely that there are times when state investment is the essential prerequisite for development. The advent of an airport with regular jet flights to the UK and elsewhere has transformed the economic and social prospects of Knock's hinterland. It used to take a day's hard travelling to get from Britain to the west of Ireland. Now you get into a plane in Stansted and an hour later walk out into a breeze which comes straight off the Atlantic and has nothing more sinister on it than peat smoke. Now there's a real miracle for you. (John Naughton, Observer, 2 June)

  • [1996:] The site of some of this century's most famous Marian apparitions is Fatima, in Portugal. During one of the Virgin's visitations there in 1917, about 30,000 people are said to have seen the sun spin, pulsate and dance in the sky. [...] Visions and voices are still regularly experienced by pilgrims to Fatima. The Fatima Virgin even has a website dedicated to her: the Fatima Network. (William Shaw, Observer 22 December)

Tune: The Man with the Dreadful Knob

Quelle: Ireland

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