Ireland’s reputation as the Emerald Isle, its unique people and its miles of gorgeous scenery are known the world over. Thousands of tourists fill the streets of Dublin, take the Ring of Kelly drive or snap breath-taking panoramas from atop the Cliffs of Moher every year. Unless you’re a profoundly devout Catholic, though, there’s little chance that you’ve heard of the quiet village of Knock in County Mayo. This pretty little settlement in North-West Ireland is truly the country’s hidden pot of gold, and presents an alternative destination for those who are looking for a peaceful interlude studded with typically Irish sights, culinary delights and alternative pursuits. In recent years, the village has started to see a greater influx of tourists whose main objective is to visit the Knock Shrine. The demand and supply for car hire in Knock have hence risen correspondingly, putting all your travel concerns at rest.
The Knock Shrine was a popular pilgrim destination even before word of Pope Francis’ impending visit in August 2018 reached our ears, further cementing it as the Lourdes of Ireland. Said to be the site of an apparition in 1879 of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, St John the Evangelist and St Joseph, the Shrine, whose impressive surroundings also host the Knock Museum, is visited by over a million pilgrims a year. Pilgrims flock here for a chance to pay their respects, take part in religious retreats and spend an enriching few days at a site filled with remarkable spiritual history. In fact, there is a host of activities you can take part in if you’re a believer, ranging from a packed mass itinerary, counselling and listening services and guided tours. There is also a bookshop filled with related literature. Later, mull over all you have seen and experienced by taking a walk through the Shrine gardens, stopping at noteworthy points like the Witness To Hope Tree and the Our Lady of Knock Cross.
Visiting the shrine may be the prime reason for your stay in Knock and, in order to take part in all the related activities, you’ll also need to find nearby accommodation, of which there is plenty. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit the whole of your vacation to one particular space. Having access to an auto makes it easy to explore the jaw-dropping surroundings of Knock in County Mayo, something which would be impossible to do by use of public transport alone, which is limited to the village boundaries. And, with prices starting at just £5 a day, there’s all the more reason for you to plan your visit with plenty of driving in mind.
The vibrant, engaging city of Galway lies just over an hour’s drive away, making a day trip filled with bustling shopping malls, heaving pubs and a distinctly bohemian vibe well within reach. Knock also serves as the perfect gateway to explore the rest of Western Ireland, so hop into your car rental and explore Ireland’s rugged coastline, which is studded with melancholy ruins and monuments. Let the wild wind whip your hair as you drink in spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean as you whiz by.