Should you rent a car in KnockIreland>Knock

The huge runway at Knock airport was built to handle an influx of long haul visitors to the nearby Shrine of Knock, and although the expected numbers never quite materialised, the airport remains as an important gateway to north-west Ireland.

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If you are just here to visit the shrine, or to embark on a local bus tour, then there is obviously no point in getting a rental car, because the airport is just a short bus or taxi journey away from the actual village of Knock.

If your plan is to carry on anywhere else other than the local towns and villages around the airport, then a hire car is almost certainly going to be essential.

Direct buses are however available from Knock airport to other regional destinations in north-west Ireland, but the nearest rail connections are some 20 miles away. It’s hardly surprising that given this is a very rural part of Ireland, public transport options only tend to be available on a very limited frequency basis, and they also will involve making many stops to serve local towns and villages.

Unless you plan to arrange a longer multi-day tour from Knock, or unless you plan to fly into Knock, and use intercity trains or buses to continue elsewhere, possibly onwards via Dublin or Shannon, then a hire car really is the best option here.

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Why do you need a car in Knock?

  • Knock Airport is in a very rural location – public transport is extremely limited.
  • Nearest rail stations are 22km away (Ballyhaunis) or 31km away (Claremorris) – both on the Dublin to Westport railway.
  • Limited, infrequent local bus services.
  • There are some superb driving opportunities in amazingly open countryside to the northwest of Knock, especially around the edge of Ballycroy National Park and Glencullen.
  • Walking – the best way to appreciate the rugged Irish countryside is to go hiking, rather than just to stick to places you can reach in a rental car. However, you will still need a car to get to most of these places, as inter-city bus services are limited, and there are few placesto stay which are directly fronting on to the national parks and other scenic areas.

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  • A car is not needed just to visit Knock Shrine – use local taxis or shuttles instead.
  • Guided tours of local area are available by bus.
  • Potential for one way trips to other locations in Ireland, using combination of buses or trains. This will typically involve heading south first via Galway.
  • It’s easy enough to get to towns like Westport from Knock Airport – although scheduled are variable, and may range from a direct bus (just over one hour) to a combination of bus and train.
  • You can cycle the Great Western Greenway from Westport to Achil. The total trip is around 45km each way. Bike rental is available at various points from Clew Bay bike hire. However, you may still prefer to rent a car, and then get hold of bikes as needed for one or two days to do this route. A hire car is still going to be very useful for the rest of your trip, if you plan to do hiking or similar activities.


Do you need a car in Knock? Well this one is about as clear as it gets. Unless you are just here for the shrine (in which case you won’t need to ask), then a hire car is all but essential in this part of Ireland. It’s not just that Knock is rural, it’s simply that the airport is nowhere near any major town, and it’s nowhere near a rail head.



Author: Carometer

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