If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
It is untrue that KNOCK vision seen in daylight
In a village of about a dozen homes and a Parish Church called Knock in Co Mayo, Ireland, a seemingly extraordinary occurrence was reported.
On the night of the 21st of August 1879 the Virgin Mary flanked by St Joseph and a bishop thought to be St John the Evangelist and an altar with a lamb and cross on it allegedly appeared on the gable wall of the Parish Church for a few hours. Fifteen people witnessed the vision including a child of five (page 60, The Evidence for Visions of the Virgin Mary) and stood watching it for two hours allegedly in torrential rain.
The suspicion of fraud and trickery was there from the very start. The most popular natural explanation is that a projector, called a magic lantern in those days, was deployed.
The Church rejects that on the basis that the images were seen before dark.
Let us examine the witness testimonies and other evidence to check this claim out.
Did the apparition really start before dark?
THE APPARITIONS AND MIRACLES AT KNOCK ALSO, The Official Depositions of the Eye-Witnesses, PREPARED AND EDITED BY JOHN McPHILPIN NEPHEW OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF TUAM) says "The time at which the apparition appeared was some twenty minutes after sunset".
However, the vision reportedly occurred before it got dark and continued until darkness fell lasting for a couple of hours.
Margaret Beirne, the sister of Mary Beirne stated, " I left my own house at half-past seven o'clock, and went to the chapel and locked it. I came out to return home ; I saw something luminous or bright at the south gable."
It obviously was not bright enough to get her attention. She refutes the lies of those witnesses who said the light was unimaginably bright.
Or did she really see something bright at the gable? Or was she the person employed by the priest to set up the hoax? She was there alone before others saw the vision so she must be considered a suspect.
Margaret and Mary both claimed they had the job of locking the Church. Margaret left to do it as did Mary later on as if she didn't know. This mistake could not have happened when they were living in the same house. It is bizarre who the testimonies expect us to believe that though they lived in the same house, three visits were needed to inform. And it was a different family member that was informed each time! Did they not speak to one another? First we read that Mary Beirne went to get Dominick to the apparition at 8. Then Catherine goes to get Margaret there at 8 or thereabouts.
According to Margaret, "Shortly after, about eight o'clock, my niece, Catherine Murray, called me out to see the Blessed Virgin and the other saints that were standing at the south gable of the chapel."
"Then Margaret goes to get their mother to the apparition at 8.15, the mother said, "I was called out at about a quarter past eight o'clock by my daughter Margaret to see the Vision." The one journey should have sufficed.
It looks like Margaret already knew what was at the gable but acted as if she did not, leaving Catherine to have to go and fetch her. Strange!
McLoughlin declared, "We gazed on them for a little, and then I told her [Mary Beirne] to go for her mother, Widow Beirne, and her brother, and her sister [Margaret who we have suspicions about, and her niece, who were still in the house which she and I had left. I remained looking at the sight before me until the mother, sister, and brother of Miss Mary Beirne came." This indicates that Margaret did not go back to the house to get her mother.
Catherine Murray upon hearing of the apparition "followed my aunt [Mary] and uncle [Dominick] to the chapel".
Dominick Beirne Senior stated, "my cousin, Dominick Beirne, came to see us at about eight o'clock, p.m., and called me to see the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints at the south gable of the chapel. I went with him. " This Dominick did not live with the Beirne's and he lived with his nephew John Curry (page 178, Knock The Virgin's Apparition in Nineteenth Century Ireland).
Mary Mc Loughlin, housekeeper to Archdeacon Cavanagh, Parish Priest of Knock, said that the images were on the gable when it was daylight. She thought they were statues. This was about 7.00 pm or slightly after but in modern time it would be 8.30 pm. She was the first person to see the images. She was on her way to Widow Margaret Beirne's house to visit. She stayed half an hour at least, at it. She never mentioned the images during her visit. This was was very unnatural if she had seen something strange. And especially when Beirne's house was very close to the apparition site meaning she could not have forgotten. The simplest way to understand this is that she never saw any images at all. It may have been a lie. If some trickery was involved, eg with lights that would be seen best in the dark, and she was part of the conspiracy it could have been necessary for her to lie that she saw the images in daylight to offset the chance of people guessing the truth.
Mary Beirne lived in the house. When McLoughlin left to go back to her own home - the parochial house - Beirne accompanied her.
Mary Beirne's deposition apparently says that she said she left the house to walk Mary McLoughlin back to the parochial house "when it was still bright." She does not say it was bright when she saw the vision which wasn't seen until they passed the Church. They could have stood talking at the door. Indeed she said she was in the presence of the vision from "a quarter past eight to half-past nine o clock." Also she might have been there later than 8.15 for at the start of her account she is unable to decide if it was 8 or 7.45 pm when McLoughlin's visit ended.
The accepted deposition is altered. The original handwritten deposition has Beirne stating that she was in her own house about 8 O' Clock.
McLoughlin came to visit later than commonly believed. She said that Miss McLochlainn as she called her came about 8 remained a 1/4 of an hour.
Beirne also wrote "It was about 8 of a dusk." See below.
We know the 8 o clock she is on about means 9.30 pm in today's time. It is indeed fairly dark in Ireland at 9.30 pm on August 21.
(The Sullivan version of her testimony gives the time as 8.15 - see page 117, The Apparition at Knock, The Ecumenical Dimension. If 8.15 is the correct time - and what makes it plausible is the fact that the witnesses would not have wanted to make out they saw the vision that late out of fear of the magic lantern rumour - then 9.45 is when McLaughlin and Beirne saw the vision. It would follow that it was already getting dark if it is true that the former really saw the vision a half an hour or so before. At best only one witness saw the vision before it got dark and that was at twilight.)
At that time of year in Ireland, it will be fairly dark then. And even darker if it has been a gloomy wet day. We know that they did not follow Greenwich Mean Time at the time of the apparition. You add on a half hour to get modern time and also an hour to adjust for summer time (page 134, The Apparition at Knock, The Ecumenical Dimension). Always add on an hour and a half to any time given in the depositions.
Her published deposition is full of alterations by a dishonest publisher. It is simply untrue that she verified that the apparition was seen clearly in daylight.
Mary and Mary Beirne passed the Church after the visit ended. This time both women claimed they saw the figures. Other people joined them allegedly about 8.15 pm (modern time would be 9.45) and it was getting dark (page 23, The Apparition at Knock). The images became clearer once darkness fell (page 61, The Evidence for Visions of the Virgin Mary). The images were then surmised to be exuding or emitting some kind of light. Perhaps it was just a light that shone on them.
God would have made sure that the first witness would have known that they were not statues from the start. And would Mary and co appear there and stay there when there was nobody about? And could God not make the images brighter until it got dark? Why did Mc Loughlin not see any light? There could have been no light when she was so sure they were statues. This suggests that whatever she saw it was not an apparition. She never mentioned about what she thought were statues in the Beirne house. It looks as if she and Mary Beirne didn't see anything until it was dark and when they passed the Church. Then Mc Loughlin lied that there was something there when it was full daylight. She was a friend of and a housekeeper to the Archdeacon. She may have lied to cut out any suspicions of fraud such as a magic lantern being used. There is reason to be suspicious of the Archdeacon and therefore of her.
Patrick Hill testified in 1879 that he went to the vision at 8. Not that long after he testified soon in the Weekly News that it was dark then (page 59, The Apparition at Knock). He testified to the Daily Telegraph that he went to the apparition when it was night and dark (page 60, 61, The Apparition at Knock). So it was dark that night at 8.
Consignments of statues had been sent to Knock recently and broken. She said she thought that the Archdeacon had ordered new statues placed at the gable and never told her. Strangely she never said that the gable would have been an odd place to have put the statues. And what about the altar and the lamb supposedly floating about half way up the gable? She said she saw a white light. Incredibly, just a few minutes later she was in the Beirne house and still said nothing after seeing all these strange things? It doesn't ring true. She saw nothing.
There is no reason to believe the claim that the figures were seen in daylight. They were seen at twilight and in the dark.
Some investigators make a lot out of the apparition appearing in daylight. They say that it indicates for example that it eliminates the idea that a projector (a magic lantern) may have been used to make the images. A projector would need the dark.
My preference is to hold that the images were cut outs stuck to the wall and some light source was shone on them. Investigations have assumed a slide with the images on it was used but that is not necessarily correct. The people who supposedly saw the images in daylight did not think they were amazing. It was only after dark they seemed to be ethereal and magical. Mary Beirne said in the 1930's that close up the images looked as if they were painted on the wall.
Was Mary McLoughlin drunk?
Mary McLoughlin looked at the vision for about an hour and then extraordinarily she left for home and stayed in (page 23, The Apparition at Knock). That was bizarre behaviour for somebody seeing the sight of a lifetime.
She was left alone with the vision as her friend Mary Beirne went to bring others to see it. Incredibly, McLaughlin was standing admiring the vision from a very awkward angle. She was standing at the schoolhouse leaning on a wall.
Some sceptics blame her for starting the whole fuss and they say drink was to blame for her "vision". If a person who has been drinking sees a vision, it makes sense to assume the drink played a role in this. They may have seen something and drink may not have been the cause but that is not the point. We just refuse to take such people seriously.
Mary McLoughlin may have been drunk for the following reasons:
1 She was known for being fond of the bottle.
2 She couldn't get the times right - Mary Beirne contradicted her in everything. The time she arrived at her house, the time she left etc.
3 She said that she had seen the strange figures on the way to Beirne's but for the half hour plus she was in their house she never mentioned them that was odd if just seconds before she had seen something and could truthfully say, "I thought the whole thing strange" as she did in her testimony. A drunk person forgets easily and just as easily gets false memories.
4 She stood at a strange place for one really seeing a vision! She picked a place for a bad far off view from an angle. In fairness though we must admit that the reason she and the others stood so far away could have been that the vision only looked good at a distance and close up was blurry and indistinct. McLoughlin, "I was outside the ditch and to the south-west of the schoolhouse near the road, about thirty yards or so from the church ; I leaned across the wall in order to see, as well as I could, the whole scene." She was not trying to see it as well as she could unless the images were vague except at a certain distance. Or was she cross eyed with alcohol?
5 What was she leaning on the wall for as she gazed at the vision? She was not an old woman - just in her mid-forties. Do you lean on wet walls? Was she not wet enough with the rain? Leaning on something in heavy rain makes you get even wetter. She was leaning because she had to steady herself over drink.
6 She left the apparition as if she feared being sick with drink or the drink affecting her too much so she had to leave and sleep it off. She only looked at it a while and went home and stayed there which was strange.
7 The Archdeacon did not take her seriously when she supposedly told him to go to the gable to see the amazing vision - if that is true then he may have known she had been drinking.
8 She was visiting in Beirnes. The sneaky Beirne household had a pub and like the rest of the houses there in Knock were probably selling drink illegally in the house (page 329, Knock The Virgin's Apparition in Nineteenth Century Ireland). The incredible lack of communication between the family living in that house that night could imply she was not the only one drinking in it.
From MEMORIES OF KNOCK IN THE EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY, Memoir of Daniel Campbell, Eden and Smethwick, written c. 1880
47. THE PARISH CLERK, DOMINIC BURKE
 Now I must return to Knock: (and) there was one individual of whom I
must say a few words. He was the most important person in the parish
excepting the PP himself. He was the Clerk of the parish, Dominic Burke. It
was his business to attend Fr Pat at the Stations on weekdays and at church on
Sundays. Also, it was his business to tell Fr Pat what house to call at to hear
Confessions, and he often got himself into trouble for not calling at the right
house. But uncharitable people used to say if you did not like to defray the
expenses of entertaining the clergy you should treat the Clerk to half a pint of
punch; and some other persons in the village would have the pleasure of
receiving and entertaining the priests for that half-year. I could say many more
things about him, but the less said perhaps the better. I will say this much of
him: he had a civil word for everybody. And I often saw him bring Fr Pat’s
punch after Mass and sermon, for he always had his breakfast after saying
Mass (and a long sermon, which he always preached in Irish – and I have often
seen his flock mostly in tears through his eloquence). I have seen him after, not
able to touch a bit of his breakfast which consisted of a little bit of cake, a jug
of milk too and whiskey. Dominic Burke brought it to him, though it was not
very strong – though it ought to be, for he allowed himself ½ a pint of whiskey
to be put in the jug, but it did not contain ¼ that much, for the messenger
contrived to have the most part of it generally; and it was brought from Mrs
Bryan Byrne’s, father to Mary and Dominic Byrne who were the first witnesses
of the Apparition at Knock.
The Beirne's then stocked enough drink to merit a mention in those short memoirs! And Dominic Burke could be a good suspect for being an accomplice in the apparition hoax. He knew the area and the people and was overly chummy with priests. He was parish clerk and had a lot to benefit from the place becoming a pilgrimage site. And it would explain why he doesn't write much about the apparition and seems to deliberately avoid giving any details about it.
I will say no more in this sketch, but if Mrs Sadler or the Sister of Kenmare had
all the material and knew all I could tell them about Knock, they could write
volumes. I have not given much about the sayings and doings of the people of
Knock: it would read more like a romance. There are not many families in the
parish that I cannot give a little of their history.
The sister of Kenmare was the famous Nun of Kenmare, Cusack who loved to write about the apparition. Why does he tease that he knows plenty that would interest her and say nothing? He was settled in Birmingham so why does he not write down what he knows of the apparition for he knew that his knowledge would die with him?
9 The only evidence that she was sober that night comes from Mary Beirne in 1936 who said that the woman did have a drink problem but she had taken no drink that night (page 68, The Apparition at Knock). Beirne could have been wrong - people are thought sober when they have had a lot of drink. Also, it was a long time before. In 1936, Mary Beirne told the commission: "She was as good a housekeeper as ever a priest had, but she had a little fault. She got into the habit for a short time of taking more than enough. But that evening she had no more sign of drink than I have now." Beirne only says she didn't notice any signs of drink. Therefore McLoughlin might have been drinking and nobody noticed that there was anything amiss. Would Beirne admit that McLoughlin had been drinking when the Beirne house was a shebeen? Beirne lied that it was a little fault. It was not. She lied to help McLoughlin's testimony to be taken at face value.
10 A priest who was described as capable and who conducted a private inquiry known to Canon Corbett declared that it was McLoughlin's drinking that started the vision story and started religious excitement (page 120, The Apparition at Knock). Other priests confirmed the priest's conclusions in 1894. All supporters say to that is that it contradicts Mary Beirne who attested that McLoughlin was sober and contradicts the Second Commission which took place in the thirties which said the priests who blamed drink did not investigate it right. But the commission did not interview the priests. Its claims made in the thirties are too long after the alleged events to be worth considering.
11 She told Sullivan she saw the cross lying but not perpendicular. She protested when the papers printed her testimony about the cross that she saw no cross. The version of her testimony in McPhilpin says she saw a cross but does not mention its position. This is the behaviour of a drunk.
12 The Nun of Kenmare though desperate to make the apparition perceived as supernatural by the world, was furiously keen to get rid of McLoughlin in case she would discredit the apparition that she was willing to finance a one way ticket to the states for her. She stated that the reason she wanted rid was because McLoughlin was drinking too much. The Nun of Kenmare turned against Archdeacon Cavanagh for letting McLoughlin stay in Knock (page 191, Knock the Virgin's Apparition in 19th Century Ireland).
Point 12 is very important. One gets the impression that there was more going on here than just a visionary being a drunk. That happening would not discredit the apparition in the eyes of any fair minded person if the person was not drunk when the vision appeared. Heavy drinking following the vision would only mean the visionary was not being respectful to the apparition. Was McLoughlin claiming to have more visions and having them when she was drunk? That makes more sense. It would explain why such drastic measures were suggested for getting rid of her. The Nun was writing reasonably close to the events in time. Beirne then lied or was mistaken in 1936 when she made out that McLoughlin was taking only a little too much drink for a short time. There is no evidence then that McLoughlin was sober on the night of the apparition.
As the apparition story had went so public her friends could not embarrass her by admitting she had been drunk. They may have said she was sober or just said nothing.
Did McLoughlin really see the vision in daylight?
Mary McLoughlin reporting that she saw the vision before night fell as she went to Beirne's is cited by believers against suspicions that the images were made with a projector. The projector would require great darkness. The darker the better.
She said she saw a strange sight in a white light on the way there and thought the figures were statues.
There is no evidence that she really saw the figures before she visited Beirne's at all. She didn't even mention what she allegedly had seen by then to the Beirne's though she was at least a half an hour in their house. She had no time to forget for the house was only a minute away from the Church - was she drunk?
McLoughlin and Mary Beirne left the Beirne house. They approached the chapel and still Mc Loughlin said nothing. That is bizarre and can only be explained by confusion, forgetfulness, a hangover or drunkenness. Mary Beirne was the one that had to notice the figures. McLoughlin in her testimony says that she and Mary Beirne went near the chapel and Beirne cries out about the figures. She testifies like one that didn't see them until Beirne alerted her to their presence. Had they both seen them at the one time she would say, "We approached the chapel we saw beautiful images and Mary Beirne cried out, "Look at the beautiful figures". The bolded bit is conspicuous by its absence in her testimony. She says nothing about telling Beirne or anybody else that she saw them before.
Mc Loughlin may have seen the images then for the first time and later with the hustle and bustle forgot this and thought that she had seen them before that.
It is said that Beirne said in 1879 that they saw the vision when it was still bright. This is not true. She said they left the Beirne house when it was still light. If they stood talking at the door of the house they might not have seen the vision until it was darkening.
Patrick Hill testified in 1879 that he went to the vision at 8. Not that long after he testified soon in the Weekly News that it was dark then (page 59, The Apparition at Knock). He testified to the Daily Telegraph that he went to the apparition when it was night and dark (page 60, 61, The Apparition at Knock). So it was dark that night at 8. We know from Mc Loughlin it was supposed to be quite dark at 8.15.
Beirne's house was nearly in line with the gable of the apparition. Why did nobody see the alleged light from the windows of the house or from the front door?
It would be hard for magic lantern images to make a good impression in daylight. However, if it was very overcast it would not be impossible. The Church needs people to think the vision was seen in daylight for it wants to discourage the hypothesis that the images were tricks done with a magic lantern.
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