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Photograph of Dublin Airport taken in 2022BW Media / Shutterstock

(LifeSiteNews) — Ireland’s busiest airport is reviewing its annual “blessing of the planes,” which has taken place since 1947. 

Dublin Airport averages around 30 million passengers per year. Founded in 1940, it has an on-site Catholic Church called Our Lady Queen of Heaven that opened in 1964. A “multi-faith prayer room” is also available.

Reports on social media by Irish news outlets earlier this week stated that Dublin Airport canceled the blessing of the planes ritual, which occurs every Christmas Day when the airport is closed for travel. Fr. Des Doyle has been its chaplain since 2008 and blessed planes most recently in December 2023. 

Conservative outlet reported that the airport received a request from John Hamill, a known atheist provocateur in the country, to conduct a “non-religious” blessing. Gript editor John McGuirk said on X that Hamill’s letter prompted the airport to conduct a “review” of its safety protocols which led to the blessing being canceled. Previously, Fr. Doyle would walk on the tarmac for it. The airport’s social media team replied to McGuirk on X disputing his claim. 

“For clarity, the decision had nothing to do with ‘a secular campaigner requesting the right to hold a non-religious blessing.’ It is the result of changes to security protocols around airside access,” they wrote. 

Yet Hamill, in an X post, said that he did request a “non-faith blessing” and that the airport announced “all such blessings are canceled” afterwards. Then, after Gript’s report was published, Catholics complained and the airport said it was re-considering its policy. 

LifeSiteNews reached out to Dublin Airport for comment. A spokesperson for DAA, the operator of the airport, provided the following statement:  

Due to recent changes to security protocols, airside access is now restricted to airport operations only. For this reason, non-operational activities can no longer be facilitated airside. We are currently working on a new approach to facilitating the traditional Christmas blessing of the planes at Dublin Airport. 

Michael Collins is a member of the Irish Parliament who represents Cork South-West. He told Gript that he was “disappointed” in the initial decision and that the blessing of the planes “is an important tradition” that should be allowed to continue. 

Aer Lingus is the flagship airline of the Irish government. The annual blessing originally took place each summer only for the company’s planes, which are named after saints. It was moved to Christmas in 1967. A mini-documentary explaining the unique nature of the blessing was released in the early 1960s.  

Ireland’s population is roughly 70 percent Catholic. In 1920, Pope Benedict XV named Our Lady of Loretta as the patron saint of aviation.