DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart USA en route to Dublin, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
DAY 2: ARRIVE DUBLIN / CITY TOUR
We arrive in Dublin. Dublin’s 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 and 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 Trinity College. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Molly Malone are among the city’s notables.
We enjoy a tour of the city while our rooms are being prepared at the hotel. Our tour includes viewing Georgian Dublin, Parliament, St. Patrick Cathedral, dating from 450A.D., and visiting Christ Church, and the Book of Kells at Trinity College. We check in to our hotel and have some time to rest from our travel. Dinner tonight is at the hotel restaurant. (D)
DAY 3: MELLIFONT ABBEY, TARA AND MONASTERBOICE
After breakfast we travel to the historic Boyne Valley. Our first stop is Mellifont Abbey, founded by St. Malachy, the Irish monastic reformer, in 1142. This secluded glen alongside the river Mattock seemed the perfect spot for a “place far removed from the turmoil of the world”. We celebrate our liturgy today, remembering St. Malachy.
We then journey to the Monastery of Monasterboice, founded in the late 5th century by St. Buith. Here we view the famous Muiredach Cross, the most perfectly preserved of all Ireland’s ancient high crosses. We stop for lunch at mid-day. Our final stop is the Hill of Tara where St. Patrick was received by the High King and where he first used the shamrock as a symbol of the Blessed Trinity. We return to our hotel in Dublin for dinner on our own. (B, L)
DAY 4: DUBLIN / KILDARE / AVOCA / GLENDALOUGH (WICKLOW)
Today we depart Dublin for Kildare, where we visit the Monastery of St. Brigid, who along with St. Patrick and St. Columba serves as one of Ireland’s patron saints. Brigid was born in 455 AD and is considered one of the greatest Celtic saints. She was Abbess of the double (both men and women) monastery at Kildare. Women served in equal capacity with men in the days of the Celtic church, consistent with the earlier custom in the Druid religion. A small cross made of rushes is linked with St. Brigid, which she made while explaining the Passion to a dying pagan. We have a prayer service at the Fire Temple of St. Brigid and then visit her well nearby. We have free time for a pub lunch on our own in Kildare.
We travel through the Vale of Avoca and continue 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. These sixth century ruins are from the monastic community he founded. In time, this community became a great center of learning known as the Rome of the West. We have time to visit the Interpretative Center for Celtic Spirituality. Dinner and the evening are in Wicklow at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 5: GLENDALOUGH: VISIT OF THE TOWN
We spend today learning of the origins of Celtic Spirituality and of St. Kevin’s life at Glendalough. Kevin was born into the royal house of Leinster but later became a hermit. He became Abbot in 570 AD and died about 620 AD. The site flourished until 1398 when it was destroyed and finally abandoned during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. There are many ancient crosses amongst the grounds and ten churches. The round Tower dates from around the 11th century. There is also Reefert Church where the kings of Leinster were buried and, nearby, the Church of the Rock, an ancient oratory.
Saint Kevin is often represented by holding the nest of a blackbird, as he was said to have been in deep prayer one day while a blackbird laid her eggs in his hands. The Saint then was said to have remained in this prayer position until the eggs hatched, illustrating the high regard the Celtic Saints had for the natural world.
Today we will have a pilgrim walk and a special Eucharistic celebration with Fr. Michael Rodgers, a specialist in Celtic history and spirituality. We will enjoy lunch today at our hotel as our shared meal together. Overnight is in Glendalough. (B, L)
DAY 6: GLENDALOUGH / CORK / KILLARNEY
This morning we depart Glendalough for Killarney, with a stop en route in Cork, the second largest city of Ireland. Cork first became known in the 7th Century as an excellent school under St. Finbarr. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the city grew rapidly with the expansion of the butter trade, and many of the beautiful Georgian buildings were built during that time. Here we have a prayer service. We have some free time for lunch in Cork before we continue to Killarney for dinner and the evening. (B, D)
DAY 7: KILLARNEY: RING OF KERRY
Today we begin with a tour of the Ring of Kerry, an ever changing landscape along the peninsula of Kerry. Afterwards, we enjoy a visit to Muckross House and a leisurely cruise on the Lakes of Killarney. We then take a jaunting car ride through the National Park into Killarney town. In the afternoon, we will have free time for visiting Killarney. We give thanks for our pilgrimage at Eucharist at St. Mary’s Cathedral before tonight’s dinner at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, situated at the entrance to one of the most beautiful glacier valleys in Western Europe. This Cottage has been family run for over 150 years and it continues the tradition of hospitality made famous by Kate. (B, D)
DAY 8: KILLARNEY / CLIFFS OF MOHER / CORCOMROE ABBEY / GALWAY
We leave Killarney and make our way by ferry from Tarbert to Killimer. We then view the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. We have lunch on our own and pause for midday prayer at Corcomroe Abbey and visit the megalithic tombs. We then continue through the lush countryside to Galway for dinner at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 9: GALWAY: EXCURSION TO BALLINTUBBER
Today we make our pilgrim way to Ballintubber Abbey. The Abbey has long been an important site of the Augustinian community. St. Patrick is said to have baptized the local peasants here in a well by the Abbey. Mass had been celebrated here regularly for seven centuries, even with suppression from Henry VIII. We will have a special tour of the Abbey by a local guide and have time to explore the meditation gardens before we celebrate the liturgy in the ancient abbey. Afterwards we will stop for a pub lunch before returning to Galway for the remainder of the afternoon
DAY 10: GALWAY / ENNIS / SHANNONSIDE
We depart for Ennis, a charming town of narrow streets. We conclude our pilgrimage with a Eucharistic celebration in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul. After some free time and lunch on our own, we continue to Shannonside with a visit to the Bunratty Folk Village and enjoy a festive medieval banquet at the Bunratty Castle. (B, D)
and evening. We are free to explore the town, enjoy a meal and hear some local music on our own. (B, L)
DAY 11: 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.