Parish Priest, Knock Shrine, 1967 – 1986’
Often referred to as the ‘Builder of Knock’ and perhaps best known for the building of Knock Airport, Msgr. Horan was a man of vision, courage and unwavering determination.
Born in Partry, Co. Mayo James Horan entered Maynooth College in 1929 to train for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Tuam. He was ordained in 1936 and appointed firstly to Dumbarton, Scotland and then to the Franciscan Monastery, Ballyglunin, Co. Galway, Tiernea, Carraroe, Co. Galway, Tooreen, Co. Mayo and Cloonfad, Co. Roscommon. He was appointed to Knock Parish in 1963 as curate and in 1967 was made parish priest.
Under his direction, significant improvements were made to facilities and amenities at Knock for pilgrims and parishioners. One of his most ambitious projects was the building of Knock Basilica completed in 1976. He also played a major role in preparing for the papal visit to Knock in the centenary year of the Apparition.
His most challenging project was the building of Knock Airport completed in October 1985 against incredible odds and difficulties. He was the first passenger on the inaugural flight to Rome in October of that year.
Msgr. Horan died suddenly while on pilgrimage in Lourdes on August 1st 1986 and his coffin was the first to be flown into Knock Airport. Msgr. Horan is buried outside the Basilica and is fondly remembered by parishioners and pilgrims.