If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
WHERE THE KNOCK WITNESSES STOOD GIVES
THEM AWAY- ALL IS NOT WELL WITH THEIR APPARITION TESTIMONY
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.
Mary Beirne and McLoughlin according to Beirne's testimony were "at the distance of three hundred yards or farther from the gable of the chapel" (Sullivan rendering) when Beirne says she saw three figures at the gable. There is no evidence that a mistake was made here and she meant three hundred feet. Had there been such a mistake Archdeacon Cavanagh would have addressed it and had it amended. The ladies did not take the path that was three hundred feet away from the Church. They were further away from it than that. As the Archdeacon's house where they were going was so nearby, they took the longest way to it.
Patrick Hill's existing testimony says that when he arrived at the gable the witnesses were standing at the wall at some distance away looking at it.
There was a bishop seen at the gable. There was an altar in the vision. Of the image of the bishop, "He was so turned that he looked half towards the altar and half towards the people" says Mary Beirne's brother Dominick. He was half looking at them meaning they were standing at an angle to the vision. They were standing at the schoolhouse. The altar was behind the bishop. "He looked half towards the altar" then cannot be taken very literally. Take it generally. If the bishop had his eyes on the altar and the people at the same time he would have had to look in the following direction. This scenario only works if the people were standing where the arrow indicates. But there is no reason to think they stood there.
Dominick's testimony works fine if you don't take it too literally that the bishop could see the altar. Dominick could not prove that the bishop's eyes were on the altar.
Mary McLoughlin, "At the time 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".
Mary McLoughlin would not stand near the vision to see it. She makes it plain that she had to stand thirty yards away to see it best - clearly the vision looked better and clearer at a distance. If the vision was dull then it would have looked better from that distance. She stood at an awkward angle to the apparition as well which makes it stranger. It obviously didn't look good if you stood straight in front of it even at a distance.
The place where she stood can be seen on the map below. She stood where the school meets the wall which is represented by a line.
Mary Beirne's sister Margaret stated in her deposition, "I there beheld the Blessed Virgin with a bright crown on her head, and St. Joseph to her right, his head inclined a little towards Our Blessed Lady, and St. John the Evangelist to her left, eastward, holding in his left hand a book of the Gospels, and his right hand raised the while, as if in the attitude of preaching to the people who stood before him at the ditch." So the people stood at the ditch. John was facing away from Mary and Joseph in the direction of the schoolhouse.
Dominic Beirne, the brother of Mary Beirne, stated that at the time he arrived there was "some ten or twelve people had been collected around the place, namely, around the ditch or wall fronting the gable, where the vision was being seen, and to the south of the schoolhouse".
Catherine Murray told the The Weekly News in 1880 that she went to the school house wall and was sent from there to fetch others. If they had to stand there then it was because it was the best view they could get.
What were they all doing standing there? Why not stand closer? The distance implies that they could not see it as well if they went any closer.
So it was not that clear and distinct.
The picture above shows the schoolhouse and the x roughly marks where they stood at the wall just where it joined the schoolhouse. The picture shows how the witnesses could not have stood at such an awkward spot unless it was not an awkward spot but in fact the only spot from which the vision seemed to have shape and form and sufficient clarity.
A true vision from Heaven would not be behaving like a clumsy makeshift cinema!