16-Days: A Grand Pilgrimage to Ireland and Northern Ireland

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

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

DAY 2: DUBLIN / MONASTERBOICE /DROGHEDA / DUNDALK

Upon arrival in Dublin we will be met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative who will accompany us throughout our tour. Time permitting, we make our way to Monasterboice, founded in the late 5th century. Here we view the famous Mulredach Cross. Then we continue to Drogheda to the shrine of the much-loved Irish saint – St. Oliver Plunkett. After a stop in Drogheda we proceed to our hotel in Dundalk for dinner and the evening. (D)

DAY 3: DUNDALK: MELLIFONT ABBEY / TARA / ARAS AN UACHTARAIN/ DUNDALK

After breakfast we journey to the Abbey of Mellifont, founded in 1142 as the mother house of the Cistercians in Ireland. Here we celebrate Mass. We continue on to 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.
This afternoon we are specially invited to the house of the President of Ireland in Aras An Uachtarain for a visit and refreshments. We return to Dundalk for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 4: DUNDALK/ CARLINGFORD/ NEWRY/ ARMAGH / DOWNPATRICK/ NEWCASTLE

This morning we stop in the captivating town of Carlingford, the Peninsula’s capital, and one of Ireland’s foremost medieval towns. Here we visit the 12th century King John’s Castle, as well as the fortified Dominican Friary, dating from 1305. Next we continue to Newry where we visit The Cathedral of St. Patrick and St. Colman, the first to be built in Ireland after the Reformation. The town is also home to St. Patrick’s Church, Ireland’s first Protestant church, dating from 1578.

Our drive then takes us to Armagh. The city is the site chosen by St. Patrick to become the Christian center during his time. In approximately 444 AD, he built the first stone church on the hill where the Anglican Cathedral now stands. Here we celebrate Mass. The Book of Armagh, which was written in the city, was also responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout Europe. We visit the St. Patrick’s Heritage Center for a closer look at the Saint’s life. Next we visit Downpatrick where we view the grave of St. Patrick on the grounds of Down Cathedral, one of the earliest places of Christian worship in Ireland. We transfer to the seaside resort of Newcastle for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 5: NEWCASTLE/ BELFAST / GIANTS CAUSEWAY / DERRY / DONEGAL

This morning we’re off to Belfast, where we take a panoramic tour of this fascinating city. We celebrate Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Belfast. Next we visit the Giant’s Causeway. The ancients believed that this spectacular rock formation was the work of the giant Finn McCool, the Ulster warrior and commander of the king of Ireland’s armies.
Our next stop is Derry (Londonderry). Derry owes its origins to a monastery founded by St. Columba in 546 AD. We enjoy a walking tour along the Old Walls of Derry. Later we visit Grianan of Aileach, the ancient hilltop fortress of Kings of Ulster before it was destroyed in 1101 A.D. Then we’re off to Donegal for dinner and the evening at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 6: DONEGAL/ BELLEEK / SLIGO / DRUMCLIFFE / CASTLEBAR-WESTPORT

We begin with Mass at Donegal Abbey. Then we have a tour of Donegal. An obelisk in the center of town commemorates writings of the “Annals of the Four Masters” written by four Franciscans, partly in Donegal Abbey. Next we continue to Belleek, known for its fine, delicate porcelain. We have a tour of the pottery factory.
We travel to Sligo, a region made famous by the poetry of W.B. Yeats. Next we travel to Drumcliffe where a monastic settlement was established in 574 AD by St. Columba. Here, in a little churchyard, we visit the grave of W. B. Yeats. We arrive in Westport for the evening. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 7: WESTPORT / KYLEMORE ABBEY/ CONNEMARA / GALWAY

This morning we travel to Kylemore Abbey, the convent of the Benedictine Nuns of Ypres, beautifully set on Lake Kylemore. After Mass at the Abbey and our tour, we continue to Connemara, one of Ireland’s most scenic and unspoiled regions. We arrive in Galway for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 8: GALWAY CITY/ OPTIONAL EXCURSION TO THE ARAN ISLANDS

This morning we enjoy a tour of the city, then take some time for getting to know this enchanting town on our own. We have the option for an excursion to the Aran Islands, which can be reached by regular ferry boat from the Galway harbor. Most tourists visit here for the rugged beauty, the sweeping views, and visits to the early monastic ruins. The additional cost for this optional excursion will be advised by our local guide in Ireland. Dinner this evening is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 9: GALWAY / BURREN / CLIFFS OF MOHER / LIMERICK

After Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Galway, we pass thru the mesmerizing landscapes of The Burren. Its stone formations have lain unspoiled since the ice-age. Our driver takes us 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 continue to Limerick for the evening. Limerick is the home town of Frank McCourt, whose Pulitzer prize winning novel, “Angela’s Ashes”, is based here. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 10: LIMERICK / ADARE / KILLARNEY

This morning we celebrate Mass. After Mass we’re off to Adare, a traditional thatched-roof village. Next we visit Muckross House and enjoy a jaunting cart ride. Muckross House, a magnificent Victorian mansion, is set in the spectacular scenery of Killarney National Park. We arrive in Killarney for the evening. Dinner is at the hotel.
(B, D)

DAY 11: KILLARNEY: RING OF KERRY EXCURSION

This morning we celebrate Mass and then 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 at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 12: KILLARNEY / CORK-COBH / YOUGHAL-DUNGARVAN / WATERFORD

After breakfast we visit Cork-Cobh, with one of the most spectacular vistas in Ireland. Here we visit the Cobh Heritage Centre. Next we visit Youghal-Dungarvan. The ancient town of Youghal was part of the great tract of land that was granted to Sir Walter Raleigh. His home, Myrtle Grove, still stands today and is open to the public. Tradition has it that it was here he planted the first potatoes. The name Dungarvan derives from the foundation of a monastery, by St. Garvan, in the seventh century. Prince John, the fellow who plagued Robin Hood, came here in 1185. Dungarvan Castle still stands beside the river. Our final stop of the day is Waterford, lying on the banks of the River Suir, where we visit the factory, world renowned for its crystal. Dinner is at our hotel in Waterford.
(B, D)

DAY 13: WATERFORD / KILKENNY / GLENDALOUGH / DUBLIN

This morning we visit 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 (where we celebrate Mass) and Kilkenny Castle. Later we make our way to 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. We arrive in Dublin for the evening. Dinner is at the hotel. (B, D)

DAY 14: DUBLIN: BOOK OF KELLS, ST. PATRICK’S, CHRIST CHURCH & ST. VALENTINE’S

Dublin derives its name 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.

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 14th holiday is named. We celebrate Mass at the altar in White Friar’s Church. The balance of the day is at leisure. Dinner is at the hotel. (B, D)

DAY 15: DUBLIN: LEISURE

This morning we join the local community in their regularly scheduled morning Mass celebration at a local church close to the hotel. Today is entirely at leisure for some last minute shopping and browsing. Tonight we attend a typical Irish cabaret. (B, D)

DAY 16: RETURN USA

We transfer to the Dublin 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.