11 Day Ireland

*** DAILY MASSES INCLUDED ***

Day 1:   Depart USA.  Meet at the international airport three hours before departure.  Dinner and breakfast served during flight.

Day 2: Welcome to Ireland.  Arrive at Dublin Airport and meet with your driver & English speaking guide before transferring to “Dublin’s Fair City”.   Pass by Trinity College, with the 8th century Book of Kells and the long room with its 200,000 books. Pass by St Patrick’s Cathedral.  Built in 1192, it is one of Ireland’s largest Cathedrals made famous by its former dean Jonathan Swift, author of “Gulliver’s Travels.” Pass by Christchurch, built by the Anglo-Norman’s in 1172 to replace an earlier Church built by the Vikings in 1038, on your way to the Phoenix Park with its many monuments including the Papal Cross. Return to the city centre via the Quays, passing by the Guinness brewery and Collins Barrack, now part of the national museum, before arriving back into O’Connell Street and the city centre.  Visit Trinity College founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st on grounds confiscated from an Augustinian priory and the oldest University in Ireland. Built to further the education of the ruling Anglo-Irish families, restrictions were imposed to prevent Catholics from attending courses. These restrictions were not fully lifted until the 1970’s. Trinity however admitted women in 1902, earlier than most British universities. Trinity College has had many famous students such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett who later became a lecturer in French at the university.  The Inter-denominational Church is very much worth a visit, should it be open during your visit.  Visit Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church and view the shrine of St. Valentine.   Mass at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church or similar.   Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 3: Dublin to Wexford.  This morning we depart Dublin to the south and a land where sheep reign supreme and where you will find nature at its best at Wicklow Mountains.  Visit a Glendalough Monastic Settlement from the Irish “Gleann Dá Locha”, which translates as "The valley of the two lakes". It was here that St. Kevin, son of the king of Leinster, founded a monastery in the 6th century. One of the most attractive features is the fine 34m high round tower. A cathedral, stone churches and decorated crosses also survived albeit as ruins.  Mass at St Kevin’s Church or similar.  Continue to Wexford for free time.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 4: Our Lady’s Island & Waterford Crystal.   This morning we depart Wexford and drive to Our Lady’s Island, situated near Rosslare, County Wexford.  In the area, remains of a pre-Christian settlement have been discovered over the years, including clay mounds containing human bones and burnt ashes. In the 6th century, St Abban is believed to have chosen Our Lady’s Island as the location for his monastery and sometime in the following century, it became a place of pilgrimage. Subsequently, Our Lady's Island housed an Augustinian settlement, and its church still stands today. View Our Lady’s Well and the remains of St Vaughn’s Church and a leaning tower that dates from the Norman era.  Mass on the island or a local church.  Lunch is included at a local pub/restaurant.  This afternoon visit Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre which has moved to a magnificent new home in the heart of Waterford City. A unique highlight of a visit is the factory tour which gives an up close insight into the centuries-old tradition of Waterford Crystal making.   Dinner is on our own tonight to taste the local flavors.  Overnight at our hotel.

Day 5: Waterford to Kerry.  After Mass this morning we depart Waterford for Kerry to visit Blarney Castle, situated in Blarney village, an ancient stronghold of the McCarthy's, Lords of Muskerry.  It is one of Ireland's oldest and most historic castles, and indeed one of the strongest fortresses in Munster. Built in 1446, Blarney Castle is famous for its Blarney stone, The Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed, to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. Then visit Blarney Woollen Mills which shielded Blarney from the worst effects of the famine. This evening enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 6: The Ring of Kerry.  This morning enjoy a panoramic tour of the Ring of Kerry,  the most famous route in Ireland.  The astonishing beauty of this large peninsula, Iveragh, comes from the great diversity of its scenery, which offers incessant contrasts. Leaving Killarney we pass through Killorglin, famous for its Puck Fair, then to Glenbeigh where the cliff road affords panoramic views of the Dingle Peninsula and Dingle Bay. Continuing to Cahirciveen, you’ll pass the birthplace of our National hero, Daniel O’Connell. Next, continue on through peat bogs to the town of Waterville and Sneem Village, famous for its brightly colored houses. The road then continues through the mountains to Molls Gap and Ladies View with superb views of the famous Lakes of Killarney.  Celebrate Mass at a local church.  Some time at leisure before dinner and overnight.

Day 7: Kerry to Clare.  This morning depart Kerry for Adare, regarded as one of Ireland’s most picturesque villages created by the 3rd Earl of Dunraven in the 1820’s for his estate workers. A must visit to include the Trinitarian Abbey, The Wishing Pools and a view of Desmond castle and Manor.  Then we drive to visit Glenstal Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in County Limerick. The abbey, which is dedicated to Saints Joseph and Columba, is home to a community of monks.  Celebrate Mass and enjoy tea and scones in Glenstal Abbey.  This evening enjoy a medieval banquet and entertainment at Bunratty Banquet or similar.  Overnight at our hotel.

Day 8:  Explore Clare.  This morning visit St Brigid’s Holy Well and celebrate Mass at a local church.   Then we visit the Cliffs of Moher, situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren Area, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara. To the south of the cliffs is Hag's Head and was once the site of a castle. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O' Brien's Tower. Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru (he who defeated the Vikings in battle), built a Tower at the cliffs in order to enjoy some tea with his lady friends. The Tower is adjacent to the sea stack, Breanan Mór, which stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves and is home to some of the Burren’s wildlife. Atlantic Edge is the exciting new interpretive centre at the Cliffs of Moher and is built into the natural landscape. The centre is a huge domed cave that contains images, exhibits, displays & experiences exploring different elements of the mighty Cliffs of Moher: Ocean, Rock, Nature and Man.  Continue through the Burren Region landscape which covers over 150 square kilometres and is one of Ireland’s 6 National Parks. The region is visually similar to a moonscape, yet shelters a mixture of flora and archaeological sites which have attracted visitors for centuries. Today man is absent from most of the upland, leaving behind ancient field systems, routeways and place names.  Today’s visitors to the Burren will find Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants growing together.  Dinner and overnight.

Day 9: Clare to Mayo.  This morning we depart for Knock via Galway. The story of Knock shrine began on Thursday evening of the 21st August, 1879, when the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of the church at Knock in County Mayo. Two commissions of enquiry, in 1879 and 1936, accepted the testimony of this apparition as trustworthy and satisfactory. Today, Knock ranks among the world’s major Marian shrines.  Celebrate Mass at Knock.  Continue on to Mayo and check in at our hotel for dinner.

Day 10: Mayo to Dublin.  This morning depart Mayo for Dublin.  En route we visit Clonmacnoise, a wonderful early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. In a stunning setting, the site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. In 1979 Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at this site. Celebrate Mass at Clonmacnoise or a local church.  On to our hotel in Dublin and spend the balance of your day at leisure for personal exploration.  This evening enjoy a farewell dinner and entertainment at the Merry Ploughboys Pub for a live in concert widely regarded as the best traditional music show in Dublin. Overnight, bed and breakfast at your hotel in Dublin or area

Day 11: Farewell.   After a final breakfast at your hotel, we depart for Dublin Airport for our return flight home – the end of a memorable pilgrimage.