14-Days: Ireland & England: Sacred Sites

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DAY 1: DEPART USA / LONDON

This afternoon we depart for London, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE LONDON

Upon arrival in London, England’s exciting capital, our Catholic Travel Centre representative will meet us and board our waiting motor coach. Our guide will accompany us throughout our time in the U.K. We proceed to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (D)

DAY 3: LONDON: CITY SIGHTSEEING

We will enjoy a city tour including the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace (if held), Marble Arch, Mayfair, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. We visit as well the Shrine of the Tyburn Martyrs. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure for shopping. (B, D)

DAY 4: LONDON: EXCURSION TO CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

This morning we head south of London to Canterbury, England’s ecclesiastical capital, where St. Thomas Beckett, then Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered in 11 70. Beckett’s shrine can be found in the Cathedral. We return to London. Time this afternoon at leisure to explore on our own. (B, D)

DAY 5: LONDON / DUBLIN

We transfer to London Airport for our flight to Dublin. We arrive in Dublin and are greeted by our Catholic Travel Centre representative who will accompany us throughout our journey in Ireland. Dublin, the name derives from “Dubh linn”, the Black Pool which was in the heart of historic Dublin. 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. Henry VIII established Trinity College here to nurture the New Faith (Protestantism) while Catholicism was outlawed for over three hundred years. The famous Book of Kells is kept at the College. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Molly Malone are among the city’s notables. We enjoy an orientation tour of the city while our rooms are prepared at the hotel. Dinner this evening is at the hotel. (B,D)

DAY 6: DUBLIN – BOOK OF KELLS, ST. PATRICK’S, ST. VALENTINE’S

Our half-day sightseeing tour includes: viewing Georgian Dublin, Leinster House (Parliament), St. Patrick Cathedral (Church of Ireland) dating from 450A.D. and visiting Christ Church (founded by King Sitric of the Dublin Norsemen in 1038 and rebuilt in 1169 by the Normans). Our last stop of the day is the Shrine of St. Valentine, after whom the February 14 holiday is named. After Mass our day is at leisure. Tonight we have dinner at the hotel. (B, D)

DAY 7: DUBLIN / KNOCK / BALLINTUBBER / GALWAY

Today we depart Dublin en route to Knock, visited each year by more than 1.5 million pilgrims. We begin with Mass at the Shrine, followed by a brief tour of the grounds. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available in a special chapel. After lunch on our own, we make our way to Galway, stopping at Ballintubber Abbey, where Mass has been celebrated daily for over 800 years! This was the traditional starting point for the annual pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Croagh Patrick. We arrive in Galway for dinner. (B, D)

DAY 8: GALWAY: EXCURSION TO CONG, KYLEMORE, & WESTPORT

Today we make our way to Kylemore Abbey. En route we pass through the charming village of Cong (deriving its name from cunga, a neck — owing to its position on an isthmus between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask). In Kylemore, we visit the convent of the Benedictine Nuns of Ypres, beautifully set on Lake Kylemore. After Mass we travel via Louisburgh with its fine sandy beaches. We stop in the town of Westport. The town was designed to the plan of James Wyatt, a well-known architect of the Georgian Period. Tonight our dinner is at the 16th century Dunguaire Castle nestled on a promontory over Galway Bay, near the fishing village of Kinvara. (B, D)

DAY 9: GALWAY / ENNIS / CLIFFS OF MOHER / KILLARNEY

Today we leave Galway and head south, with our first stop at the Friary at Ennis, a charming town of narrow streets. We celebrate our Mass here at the Church of Ss. Peter & Paul. We come 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. We arrive this at our hotel outside of Killarney. (B, D)

DAY 10: KILLARNEY: EXCURSION TO RING OF KERRY

We are off today to Killarney, beginning with Mass at St. Mary’s Church. We then we set out for a thrilling scenic ride around the Ring of Kerry (112 miles) – a continuously changing landscape of dramatic cliffside views and breathtaking seascapes. Afterwards we have some time in bustling Killarney for browsing and shopping (B, D)

DAY 11: KILLARNEY / BLARNEY / HOLY CROSS / 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. Our next stop is Holy Cross Abbey, home to one of the first relics of the True Cross to have reached Ireland. It was at one time one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in Ireland during the later Middle Ages. Through a special Act of Parliament, in 1975 reconstruction of the old monastic cloister began. Here we celebrate Mass. 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 the evening. (B, D)

DAY 12: WATERFORD / GLENDALOUGH / DUBLIN

Our first visit today is Waterford itself, lying on the banks of the River Suir. The factory here is world renowned for its crystal. Our next stop is 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. Our accommodations are near the airport in preparation for our return flight the following morning. (B, D)

DAY 13: DUBLIN – EXCURSION TO FAUGHART, DROGHEDA & TARA

Our first stop today is the town of Faughart and the Shrine of St. Brigid who along with St. Patrick and St. Columba serves as one of Ireland’s patron saints. The Shrine marks the reputed birthplace of St. Brigid. From Faughart, we make our way to Drogheda to the shrine of another much-loved Irish saint — St. Oliver Plunkett. We head west now to Slane Hill where St. Patrick proclaimed Christianity in 433 AD by lighting the paschal fire. On the Hill is a 16th century church built on the site of the ancient church founded by Saint Patrick. Our journey south takes us to the Hill of Tara where the High King received St. Patrick and where St. Patrick first used the shamrock as a symbol. Tonight a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant, including entertainment. (B, D)

DAY 14: DUBLIN / USA

After breakfast we transfer to the airport for 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.