There was a carnival atmosphere at the formal inauguration of what will become Ireland's fourth largest airport in Knock, County Mayo.
Minister for Transport Albert Reynolds turned the sod on the £10 million airport to be built in one of the remotest corners of Mayo. Minister for State State Pádraig Flynn was also in attendance. The foundation stone for the new terminal was laid and Bishop of Achonry Dr Thomas Flynn blessed the site.
The driving force behind the project Monsignor James Horan, Parish Priest of Knock, is delighted with the events of the day. He believes that the airport will boost industry and employment in the region of which 50% of the population is comprised of young people. He says,
If they need employment and if they have to emigrate, they will be able to come back quickly as soon as we send word to them.
Much of the development work is already done but the airport will take a further two years to complete. With an estimated 50,000 passengers a year, Minister Reynolds believes the airport will boost tourism and play a major role in developing Knock Shrine as a leading international place of pilgrimage.
Monsignor Horan is convinced Knock will become a highly successful airport and dismisses critics who see it as a white elephant.
Connacht is entitled to an airport and Connacht will take good care of it.
An RTÉ News report by Jim Fahy broadcast on 5 May 1981.