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9 Strange Occurrences in a small Irish village. Knock Novena. Pic Michael McLaughlin 600 d

Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village


Everyone wants to believe in miracles. Welcome to the village built on one.


An apparition of the Virgin Mary. A multi-million euro restoration project. A plane full of American pilgrims en route. Thousands of faithful seeking a miracle. Strange Occurrences in a small Irish village explores the big question of faith, in a small Irish village. One dark evening in 1879 in the town of Knock, Ireland, fifteen villagers claim to witness a vision of the Virgin Mary. After two official inquiries, the village was declared a Marian Shrine. Today, Knock’s 2,000 residents welcome over one million pilgrims annually. In the village, we meet people with compelling stories – invalids seeking cures; the eight sibling owners of rival religious merchandise shops; a woman relieved of multiple sclerosis during a 1970s pilgrimage; feisty Mildred, advocate for gender parity for the shrine’s handmaids; and the staff of the Knock Marriage Bureau, the matchmakers behind one thousand marriages and counting. Father Richard has a vision of his own – to bring Knock into the twenty-first century. The charismatic, outward-looking Parish Priest is on a mission to entice new transatlantic visitors via Knock Airport. With references to “the scandals”, falling church attendances, and the modernisation of the shrine and the village itself, Strange Occurrences in a small Irish village presents a timely reflection on the position of the Church in modern Ireland. For the faithful it celebrates a beacon of spiritual hope; for sceptics it opens an enticing window on an anachronistic but thriving world.

Writer: Rachel Lysaght

Director: Aoife Kelleher

DOP: Cathal Watters

Sound: Susan Downey

Editor: Adelina Bichis

Year: 2016

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