TG4 - Cogar
Duration: 25 mins

An Esras Films production for TG4
broadcast on Sunday 23rd December 2007 at 21.30

While many people associate Knock Shrine with only one person, the legendary Canon James Horan, this COGAR tells the extraordinary story of Knock's heroine - Dame Judy Coyne. In the 1930s, Judy with her husband Liam, revived national interest in the then almost forgotten shrine. She spent a lifetime working to promote and develop the Marian Shrine at Knock. And one Sunday morning in 1964, Judy Coyne got the idea that the Pope should come to Ireland.

Judy Coyne (nee Begley) was born the youngest of 11 children to a Claremorris farmer in 1905. She married District court judge Liam Coyne in 1924; they honeymooned in Paris, and settled into their comfortable life at Bridgemount House, near Belcarra where Judy enjoyed shopping, fine clothes and playing tennis.

In 1929, Judy and Liam received a letter from friends asking them to meet them at Knock for the golden jubilee of the Apparition of our Lady at Knock (1879).The Archbishop of Tuam told the gathered pilgrims that they mustn't take his presence there as giving official recognition to the Apparition alleged to have taken place fifty years earlier.

The Church had never given any opinion for or against it and the 1st Commission of Enquiry, which had been appointed to investigate the claims, had come to no positive conclusion. This surprised Judy and Liam but it wasn't until 1934 on a pilgrimage to Lourdes that the Coynes started to make comparisons to Knock. The daily blessing of the sick made a particularly deep impression on them.

'Each day we joined in the huge procession… and as we did so, we asked ourselves again and again why we were not seeing the same thing happening in Knock…...A strange feeling of a need to do something to promote it began to nag at both my husband and myself, and there was no getting rid of it.'

(Providence, my Guide, Judy Coyne, 2004)

From such ordinary motivations, began the extraordinary story of Dame Judy Coyne and Knock. In 1930s rural Ireland, with her husband Liam, she revived an interest in the then almost forgotten shrine of Knock - beginning a journey that would bring Knock to what it is today: one of the principal Marian shrines in the world. In 1935, they founded the Society for the Promotion of Knock Shrine (now known simply as the Knock Shrine Society). They travelled the country distributing leaflets to schools and convents. They held lecture tours promoting the Shrine. Books were written and Judy produced the Knock Shrine Annual. From the beginning a body of helpers was established known as the Handmaids and Stewards under Judy's strict guidance and over the years small progress was made with a rest home opening for sick pilgrims.

In the mid 1950s, the Dublin Pioneer Total Abstinence Association announced they were hoping to make a large pilgrimage to Knock and wrote to Judy to arrange things at the Shrine. Judy was not encouraged by the local priest and met considerable resistance from Mayo County Council - 'The roads couldn't take them' 'Every tractor in the county would be pulling the cars out of the ditches.' But the Dublin Pioneers came - all 50,000 of them. The crowds were catered for with no running water and no fridges - nothing like it was to be seen again in Knock until the Pope's visit.
In her lifelong involvement with Knock, Judy herself interviewed some of the original witnesses to the Apparition. She oversaw the search for cures as part of the Second Commission of Inquiry into Knock. In 1954, the Marian Year, Judy led the handmaidens and stewards to Rome where the Knock Banner was blessed by Pope Pius XII, one of her proudest moments. 'The first privilege the Vatican gave to Knock Shrine'.

In the 1960s she travelled alone to Italy to oversee the work of Professor Lorenzo Ferri who sculpted the statues that eventually came to stand at the gable end of the original Knock church. And one Sunday morning in 1964, Judy read about the Pope's visit to the Holy Land, planting the idea that the Pope should visit Ireland and more especially, Knock. From then on, she started a countdown to the centenary of the Apparition (1979), putting pressure on Canon Horan and the Archbishops to make it happen. The rest is history.

Directed by Mary Brophy, this Cogar tells the story of one self-effacing woman's determination and foresight - a woman who achieved so much against a backdrop of an often resistant clergy and in an almost forgotten Ireland.


Cogar - Dáma Chnoc Mhuire
An Esras Films production for TG4
Produced & Directed by Mary Brophy
Duartion: 26 mins

For further information and/or publicity stills, please contact:
Esras Films on 01- 2881939
Mary Brophy, Producer/Director on 01- 2881939

Esras Films Ltd,
43 Mount Merrion Avenue,
Co. Dublin.


Providence My Guide
The heroic force in the Knock Shrine story
Author: Kennedy, Ethna
ISBN 9781856354349
Mercier Press

Contact Mercier Press Ltd. Douglas Village, Cork, Ireland
(T) +353 -21 - 489 9858
(F) +353- 21 - 489 9887