8 Day Ireland

*** DAILY MASSES INCLUDED ***

Day 1: Meet at airport three hours before departure.  Dinner and breakfast aboard our flight.

Day 2: Welcome to Ireland.  On arrival at Dublin Airport meet with your coach driver and English speaking guide and transfer to the city centre.

Today enjoy a panoramic tour of Dublin City, discovering the north side of the River Liffey. This area offers great striking monuments such as the GPO (General Post Office) on the city main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, or the Custom House along the quays, as well as the Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe. The south side appears more sophisticated with its vast Georgian squares, such as Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde’s House can still be found (today owned by an American College), its colourful doors, along with Grafton Street and its quality shops. Not so far from St. Stephen’s Green, in Kildare St., you will see the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. This part of the city is also dominated by the students of Trinity College, where the famous book of Kells is permanently exhibited in its library. The university is facing the medieval district where Dublin Castle and the two Anglican Cathedrals can be found.  Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral.  St Patrick’s is the National Cathedral of Ireland and is built on the site where St Patrick preached. There was a small church on the site which was still in existence when the when the Anglo-Normans arrived. This church was replaced with a stone church in 1191 and it was further remodelled in 1225 to the same design as Salisbury Cathedral. Ireland's first university was founded at St. Patrick's in 1320 and intermittently operated for 200 years. St Patrick’s is Gothic in style and it’s splendid interior, is adorned with funeral monuments, such as The Boyle Family Memorial and the grave of Dean Jonathan Swift. Swift was dean here until his death in 1745. The Chancel has ornate stained-glass windows, and spectacular choir stalls, once used by the knights of St Patrick adjoin the Altar. The massive west towers, houses a large peal of bells whose ringing tones are so much part of the character of Dublin.  Visit the Guinness Storehouse.  The Guinness Brewery in Dublin is Europe's largest stout producing brewery and home to the Guinness Storehouse.  Opened in 1904 The Storehouse was an operational plant for fermenting and storing GUINNESS. Today it houses a very fine exhibition dedicated to the Guinness story. Visitors will discover what goes into the making a pint of GUINNESS - the ingredients, the brewing process, the time, the craft and the passion. The exhibition shows how the brew has been marketed and how it is today sold in over 150 countries. The visit ends with a visit to the 7th floor Gravity bar to sample first-hand the elixir of life ~ a pint of Guinness. The Storehouse has a retail store, gallery and exhibition area, a restaurant and two bar areas. Overnight, dinner and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Dublin

 Day 3: To The West. Today depart Dublin and transfer to the west of Ireland. On route visit Clonmacnoise.  St. Ciaran founded this great monastery in 548-9. Dermot, a local prince, helped Ciaran build his first church on the site and later when Dermot was elected High Kinghe richly endowed the monastery. Although St. Ciaran did not live long after the foundation, the monastery grew rapidly. It was plundered six times between 834 and 1012, and burned 26 times between 841 and 1204. Clonmacnoise was a great centre of learning, and many manuscripts, including the Annals of Tighermach (11th century) and the Book of the Dun Cow (12th century), were written here. The Normans attacked Clonmacnoise in 1179, and burned 105 houses, and for the next four hundred years the monastery was often plundered. In 1552 the English garrison from Athlone took all the monastic valuables away. The monastic site never recovered from this attack. The on-site guides provide excellent tours to the many interesting artefacts to be found here, including the High Crosses, the 12th century round tower, and the many Churches and Temples, which adorn this hallowed site. The heritage centre contains early grave slabs and the three remaining High Crosses, replicas of which now stand in their original location. The centre has an excellent audio-visual, which presents development and history of Clonmacnoise as well as the life of the early Christian church in Ireland. The centre presents several displays showing how masons built their churches and how artists and masons designed and built the high crosses. Arrive in Galway and check into your hotel.  Overnight, dinner and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Galway or area.

Day 4: Knock and Ballintubber Abbey. Today visit Knock. This little town is an important pilgrimage centre and has been famous for over a century as the site of visions, apparitions, and miraculous cures. The story of Knock began on the 21st August 1879 when Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. Fifteen people, young and old witnessed the apparition. From this miraculous occurrence Knock has grown to the status of an internationally recognised Marian Shrine. The personal pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II in 1979, commemorating the centenary of the apparition, inspired an even greater devotion to the Shrine and endorsed the indelible seal of Vatican approval. Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited the Shrine in June of 1993. One and a half million pilgrims visit the Shrine annually.  Continue to Ballintubber Abbey.  Built in 1216, for the Canon Regulars of St Augustine, Ballintubber Abbey is the only church in Ireland that was founded by an Irish King and which is still in use today. It was built next to the site of an earlier church founded by St Patrick in the 5th century. It is also known as "the Abbey that refused to die" as through its many vicissitudes, including burning by Cromwell's army in 1653, the Abbey has remained a place of worship despite years of continuous attacks and religious repression. Ballintubber retains an air of ancient beauty and spirituality and has been restored with simple elegance. Ballintubber is one of the most impressive church buildings in Ireland today and is well worth a visit. There is a video display and an interpretative centre at the Abbey and the grounds are landscaped to portray spiritual themes.  Return to Galway.  Overnight, dinner and full Irish breakfast at Hotel in Galway or region.

Day 5: The Burren and Cliffs of Moher. Depart Galway and travel southwards into County Clare and via the Burren region to the Cliffs of Moher.  The Burren, part of which forms the 100 square km Burren National Park, is a unique place. It is a Karst limestone region of approximately 300 sq. km, which lies in the north west corner of Co Clare. It is composed of limestone pavements, which have been eroded to a distinctive pattern.  This pavement is criss-crossed by cracks known as grykes in which grow a myriad of wild flora and under which are huge caves and rivers which suddenly flood when it rains. The Burren contains dozens of megalithic tombs and Celtic crosses as well as a ruined Cistercian Abbey dating back to the 12th century.  You will discover small villages abandoned during the famine period and green roads on which you can walk for miles without ever seeing a car.  The flora on the Burren is a mixture Arctic and Mediterranean and rare flowers such as gentian, orchids and bloody cranesbill are the rule rather than the exception. The Burren is truly an exceptional part of Ireland.  Continue to 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 seastack, Breanan Mór, which stands over 70 metres above the foaming waves and is home to some of the Burren’s wildlife. Continue along Clare’s Coast and take a ferry across the River Shannon into County Kerry.  Overnight, dinner and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Kerry area

Day 6:  Ring of Kerry.  Today, a superb tour of the Iveragh Peninsula, will give you the opportunity to discover the Ring of Kerry. Taking in spectacular scenery - mountains, peat bogs, lakes and magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean as one travels along the coast road. Leaving Killarney one passes 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 one passes the birthplace of National hero, Daniel O’Connell. Passing through the peat bogs one arrives at the sea town of Waterville. Continue to Sneem Village, famous because of its brightly coloured houses. The road continues through the mountains to Molls Gap and Ladies View with superb views of the famous lakes of Killarney. Visit Muckross House, a nineteenth century country residence with folk museum, the gardens at the rear are famous for their superb rhododendrons.   Visit to Muckross House and Gardens.  Built in 1843 by the Herbert Family, in Elizabethan style, this house is one of the most sumptuous residences of Ireland. Muckross, surrounded by beautiful gardens, is in the heart of the Killarney National Park, the first opened in Ireland.  Return to the Hotel.  Overnight, dinner and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Kerry area.

Day 7:  Return to Dublin. Today travel back to Dublin via the Rock of Cashel.  Possibly the most photographed site in Ireland, the Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland's leading tourist attractions. Towering over the town of Cashel from its perch on a 200-foot high outcrop of limestone, the Rock of Cashel was once the seat of the Kings of Munster. St. Patrick visited the rock in 450, while Brian Boru was crowned the 1st high King of Ireland here in the tenth century. Granted to the church in the twelfth century, by the O'Brien clan, the Rock became the seat of the archbishop of Cashel. It was during this period that Cormac's Chapel was built. In 1647 Cromwellian forces under the leadership of Lord Inchiquin ransacked the Rock..  Today, impressive stone walls enclose a round tower, a cathedral, a twelfth century Romanesque chapel and high crosses. The gothic cathedral dates back to the thirteenth century and attached to it is the palace of the Archbishop of Cashel. Cormac's chapel, smaller in structure, displays some typical Romanesque features while the Hall of the Vicar's Choral, at the entrance to the Rock, is a fifteenth century house. The Vicars Choral has been recently restored and its basement houses a small museum of artefacts found on the site. A guided tour is strongly recommended. Overnight, dinner and full Irish breakfast at your hotel in Dublin or area.

Day 8:  Farewell. After a final Irish breakfast transfer to Dublin airport for your return flight home.