14-Days: A Spiritual Journey to Ireland

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

We depart USA en route to Shannon, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE SHANNON / ADARE / TRALEE / KILLARNEY

We arrive in Shannon Airport and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative. After boarding our motor coach we are on to the thatched-roof village of Adare, where we stop for lunch on our own. Next we stop in the town of Tralee, famed for the lovely Victorian song, ‘The Rose of Tralee’. We arrive this evening in Killarney. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 3: KILLARNEY: KILLORGLIN / EXCURSION TO THE RING OF KERRY

This morning we make the short drive to Killorglin for Mass. Later this afternoon we are off for a thrilling scenic ride around the famed Ring of Kerry, a continuously changing landscape of dramatic cliffside views and breathtaking seascapes. We return to Killarney for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 4: KILLARNEY: EXCURSION TO THE DINGLE PENINSULA / LEISURE

Today we visit the Dingle Peninsula (daingean “fortress”). Reached by the spectacular coastal road girdling impressive mountains, the small harbor town of Dingle has all of Ireland’s charm tucked into its crooked streets and shops. The town is renowned for its restaurants, most of which offer excellent local seafood. Dingle was an embarkation point for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela to visit the shrine of St. James. It is said that the medieval church in Dingle, dedicated to St. James, was built by the Spanish. Here we celebrate Mass before returning to Killarney for some free time for browsing. Later this evening we gather at The Laurels, Killarney’s famous “singing pub” where we enjoy lots of rousing ballad singing, music, craic and dancing. ( B, D)

DAY 5: KILLARNEY / BLARNEY / CASHEL / WATERFORD

Today we are off to Blarney Castle, where you acquire the ‘gift of gab’ by kissing the Blarney Stone. Woollen Mills offers some great shopping. Mass is celebrated en route. Our next stop is the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland’s most visited monuments. Here, in 450 AD, St. Patrick baptized King Aengus. We tour the ruins here, including the Cashel Cathedral, still in very good condition given its age. We arrive in Waterford for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 6: WATERFORD / KILKENNY / DUBLIN

This morning we visit the Waterford factory, world renowned for its crystal. We have some time to shop before continuing on to the lovely town of Kilkenny, The city derives its name from St. Canice, who established a monastery here in the 6th century. We visit the Cathedral of St. Canice and Kilkenny Castle. It is also known for the Kilkenny Design Center, carrying some of the most exquisitely designed local goods from Ireland. There will be time to visit the Kilkenny Design Workshops. We take time to visit, as well, the ruins of Jerpoint Abbey, dating from the late 12th century, before our visit to Langton’s pub. Langton’s has won so many Best Food and Best Pub awards that Eamon Langton was asked to stand down and give someone else a chance. We continue to Dublin for the evening. (B, D)

DAY 7: DUBLIN: VISIT OF CITY

This ancient city was known to Ptolemy the Great. It saw the High King Brian Boru killed nearby fighting the Vikings. Both the Normans and the English invaded it. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Molly Malone are among the city’s notables. Henry VIII established Trinity College here to nurture the New Faith (Protestantism), while Catholicism was outlawed for over three hundred years.
This morning we visit Dublin Castle situated in the very heart of historic Dublin. In fact, the city gets its name from the Dubh Linn, or Black Pool (dubh = black), on the site of the present Castle Gardens and Coach House. We also see St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin’s loveliest park, as well as taking some time on Grafton Street, Dublin’s main shopping area. This afternoon we visit St. Patrick Cathedral (Church of Ireland) dating from 450 A.D., Christ Church (founded by King Sitric of the Dublin Norsemen in 1038 and rebuilt in 1169 by the Normans) and, of course, the Book of Kells at Trinity College. Mass is celebrated at the Shrine of St. Valentine, after whom the February 14 holiday is named.

Our final stop of the day is the famous Guinness Storehouse, a spectacular attraction, designed to woo you with the wonders of the “dark stuff” advertisements. The star attraction is undoubtedly the top-floor Gravity Bar, with 360-degree floor-to-ceiling glass walls that offer a nonpareil view out over the city while you sip your free pint. Dinner this evening is at Jury’s Cabaret. (B, D)

DAY 8: DUBLIN: EXCURSION TO GLENDALOUGH / AVOCA

Today we depart for Glendalough– the Glen Between the Two Lakes. According to legend, St. Kevin retired to this spot to be alone because his good looks made him a source of temptation. He had to drown one persistent lady who followed him; another became a nun. These Sixth Century ruins are from the monastic community he founded. In time, this community became a great center of learning, known as “Rome of the West”. We will visit the Interpretative Center for Celtic Spirituality and celebrate Mass at a church en route.
Next we visit the Vale of Avoca, immortalized in the poetry of Thomas More’s “The Meeting of the Waters”, where the Avonmore and Avonbeg Rivers meet. Along the valley road are shops selling the well-known Avoca-weave rugs. We return to Dublin for some time at leisure. (B)

DAY 9: DUBLIN: EXCURSION TO DROGHEDA / NEWGRANGE & TARA

This morning we make our way to Drogheda to the shrine of the much-loved Irish saint – St. Oliver Plunkett. Here we celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Church. Next we travel through the historic Boyne Valley. The Boyne is best known for the famous “Battle of the Boyne” that took place on July 1, 1690, when King William of Orange bested James II of England. We tour the Neolithic passage grave site of Newgrange. Older than the Pyramids of Egypt, it has housed the remains of a Stone Age People for 5000 years. Our final stop of the day is the Hill of Tara where St. Patrick was received by the High King and where St. Patrick first used the shamrock as a symbol of the Blessed Trinity. We return to Dublin for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 10: DUBLIN / KNOCK / BALLINTUBBER / WESTPORT

After breakfast we depart Dublin for Knock, Ireland’s most beloved and popular religious shrine, dedicated to Our Lady of Knock. The shrine is visited each year by more than 1.5 million pilgrims. Upon arriving here as a pilgrim in the autumn of 1979, Pope John Paul II declared: ‘Now I am at the goal of my pilgrimage to Ireland!” We begin with Mass, followed by a tour of the grounds to learn the story of the apparitions here. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available in a special chapel.

Next we visit Ballintubber Abbey, where Mass has been celebrated daily for over 800 years and where St. Patrick baptized at a well there! This was the traditional starting point for the annual pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Croagh Patrick. In the cemetery stands the tree that marks the grave of Sean the Priest -Killer. We continue on to Westport, one of Ireland’s most charming towns in the western region, for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 11: WESTPORT: EXCURSION TO ACHILL ISLAND & BALLYCROY

This morning we visit Achill Island. Achill is the largest of Ireland’s islands. It has a wonderful succession of views, of sandy beaches, cliffs, rugged headlands and mountains. There is evidence that the island was inhabited up to 5,000 years ago, and was home to Celtic tribes from the fourth century AD. Megalithic tombs and promontory forts testifying to this can be seen on the island. Achill was home to Grace O’ Malley, or Granuaile, who gained fame as a sea captain and pirate.
This afternoon we travel to Ballycroy for Mass. Dinner is in the fishing village of Newport. We return to Westport for the evening. (B, D)

DAY 12: WESTPORT / KYLEMORE / GALWAY

Today we make our way to Kylemore Abbey. In Kylemore, we visit the convent of the Benedictine Nuns of Ypres, beautifully set on Lake Kylemore. Here we celebrate Mass. After some time for reflection we continue on to Galway for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 13: GALWAY / CLIFFS OF MOHER / BUNRATTY / ENNIS

This morning we are off to the Cliffs of Moher, sheer cliffs dropping 600 feet to the water below, one of the most impressive stretches of shoreline on the west coast of Ireland. This afternoon we visit the Friary at Ennis, a charming town of narrow streets. We celebrate the final Mass of our journey here at the Church of Sts. Peter & Paul. We continue on to the Bunratty Folk Village, and prepare for an evening of festive entertainment at Bunratty Castle, with medieval singers in full attire. We overnight in Ennis. (B, D)

DAY 14: RETURN USA

We transfer to the Shannon airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)

NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.