Dublin Airport (DUB) operates on every day of the year, except for one: December 25, Christmas Day, when the airport is run by a skeleton staff for emergencies only.
This quiet time is also a special day for the airport. December 25 is when Dublin Airport holds its annual blessing of the planes.
On December 25, 2023, the airport’s chaplain, Father Des Doyle, was escorted by airport crew to officiate the blessing of aircraft. Doyle has been the airport’s chaplain since 2008.
Judging by Dublin Airport’s Facebook page, Father Des Doyle had been blessing the planes as far back as 2016.
Graeme McQueen, media relations manager for Dublin Airport operator Dublin Airport Authority (daa) told CNN that the airport’s annual blessing ceremony dates back to 1947.
McQueen said that the blessing originally only involved Aer Lingus aircraft, all of which are named after saints. Now, though, the blessing covers all planes and is ecumenical.
Ireland remains a predominantly Catholic country. In the 2022 census, 69% (3.5 million) of the population in the country identified as Catholic.
The tradition of blessing planes dates back to 1920, when aviation experts and pioneers asked Pope Benedict XV to bless their work and the skies.
The pope obliged, and declared Our Lady of Loretto to be the patron saint of aviation.
With a feast day of December 10, Our Lady of Loretto has since been known to be the patron Saint of air travelers, pilots, airmen, flight attendants, builder, and construction workers.