This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
Advertisement

The journey to bury the youngest witness to Knock Apparition of 1879

John Curry was just five years old when he witnessed the apparition. He’ll be buried at St Patrick’s old Cathedral, New York.

John Curry (centre) with Patrick Hill, another of the Knock visionaries and one of their friends in New York John Curry (centre) with Patrick Hill, another of the Knock visionaries and one of their friends in New York.

JOHN CURRY WAS just five years old when he witnessed a miracle at the gable wall of the parish church in Knock.

He was the youngest of fifteen people who saw the apparition of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph one evening in 1879.

As a young man, he emigrated to America in search of work. He worked for many years as a labourer and later as an attendant in the City Hospital on Welfare Island, New York.

In later life, when his health began to fail he went to live with the Little Sisters of the Poor on Long Island, where he remained until his death in 1943.

Almost 150 years after the apparition, parishioners of Knock have travelled to New York to witness his reinterred remains and to celebrate his extraordinary life.

Yesterday, a special requiem Mass celebrated as the remains of John Curry were brought to an historic symbol of the Irish in New York – the old St Patrick’s Cathedral, Manhattan.

Last Sunday, Father Richard Gibbons, parish priest and rector of Knock Shrine, led a group out from Ireland West Airport to New York to make the journey.

Aer Lingus charter to New York takes to the skies from Ireland West Airport Father Richard Gibbons boards the plane to New York from Ireland West Airport for an historical six-day trip. Source: Ireland West Airport Knock

21 August 1879

John Curry was from a farming community in the townland of Lecarrow, Co Mayo.

When he was about a year old, he went to live with his maternal grandparents, the Byrnes, in the village of Knock.

On the evening of 21 August 1879, John and three others from his family went to see the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist on the gable end of the parish church nearby.

In a testimony given during the Commission of Enquiry in October of that year, it was stated that he was held on the shoulders of his cousin, Patrick Hill, so that he could see the figures, which he described as “bright lights”.

Joe Coleman claims Apparation in Knock - Co Mayo 'Visionary' Joe Coleman from Dublin (centre) prays in Knock Shrine Co Mayo where he claims he will witness a vision from the Virgin Mary (2010). Source: PA Archive/PA Images

In 1937 he gave evidence before a second Commission of Enquiry into the apparition set up the previous year by the Archbishop of Tuam.

At that stage there were three surviving eye-witnesses to the apparition: Mary O’Connell and Pat Byrne (both living in Knock) and John Curry.

He was questioned about his childhood, the apparition and other related matters.

From this and other sources it is claimed that John Curry was an unassuming man who did not seek or claim any notoriety because of the apparition.

Different bright lights

In 1911, John Curry arrived in America from England, eventually gaining work as a railway labourer in the Milwaukee area, Wisconsin.

At some stage in the 1920s John moved to New York. He worked for many years as a labourer and later as an attendant in the City Hospital on Welfare Island, New York.

Due to ill health, he entered a home for the elderly run by the Little Sisters of the Poor on East 70th Street, where he was to remain until he died.

Joe Coleman claims Apparation in Knock - Co Mayo Source: PA Archive/PA Images

John Curry died in the home of the Little Sisters of the Poor on 27 May 1943 at the age of 69 and was buried in a communal plot in a cemetery on Long Island.

He was the last surviving official witness to the apparition at Knock in 1879.

Historic trip

Knock Shrine and Ireland West Airport say that they’re well-accustomed to welcoming pilgrimages in from New York and Boston, this “historically unique six-day trip”, was a particular privilege.

A delighted Father Richard Gibbons said that the trip both “recognises John Curry’s place as a witness and native of Knock, and also pays tribute to others like him, the ‘forgotten Irish’ who faced the desolation of leaving home never to return.”

Read: Cork loses out as passengers continue to flock to Dublin Airport

Read: Lights out: Knock was the darkest place in Ireland last year

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Read next:

COMMENTS (88)