Saturday, 4 February 2012
The gang fly back to us from UK, landing at Knock International Airport; not one they have ever been to before but which is, conveniently, within 15-20 minutes of the new house in Co. Roscommon. They have heard from sources that it is very tiny, and is really just a landing strip painted onto the Holy Mountain of Knock following a campaign by an enterprising church leader Monsignor Horan. Says Wikipedia, "The airport was officially opened on 30 May 1986, however the first commercial flights operated seven months earlier on 25 October 1985 in the form of three Aer Lingus charter flights to Rome. The opening followed a long campaign by Monsignor James Horan. The airport was intended to bring employment to an impoverished corner of Ireland, as well as allow pilgrims to visit the nearby Roman Catholic Knock Shrine which commemorates an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1879." at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland_West_Airport_Knock. It is just large enough to land normal Airbus 320, Aer Lingus flights (and I believe bigger stuff too).
Knowing this, however, does not fully prepare you for how tiny (aka so rinky-dink sweet it has you smiling with delight!) it is. As you fly in losing height over Ballaghaderreen and then ever more rural Co Rosco and Galway Ireland your view out of the window is of tiny fields, dry stone walls, small tracts of forestry and tiny peat cutting bogs. You start to doubt there is an airport there and think you are actually going to touch down on this rural scene. The pilot may know where he's going, but the airfield is so narrow, you can't see it from the side windows.
You land on the single runway in the same second you see the perimeter fence. see the small white terminal to your right, slow down and stop, then execute a neat U-turn on the runway before trundling back towards the start of the same runway, turning left into what feels like a car park, the wing-tips of the plane almost brushing the fence and lamp-posts. You disembark down steps and walk across to the tiny arrivals building with its single baggage reclaim belt, and on out to the three-car taxi rank. Sooo cute!
Mum and Dad got a taxi ride back to the house at €30 (about 25 quid) which took just 15 minutes through the lanes. We love Knock Airport