12 Day Ireland Pilgrimage

*** 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 your driver and guide and transfer to Dublin City Centre.  On arrival 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 colorful 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.  Mass at a local church.  Check in to your hotel in Dublin or area for dinner and overnight. 

Day 3: Dublin.  Mass at a local church.  Visit Trinity College, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st on grounds confiscated from an Augustinian priory and is the oldest University in Ireland. The Campanile, erected in 1852, was built on what is believed to be the centre of the monastery.  Built to further the education of the ruling Anglo-Irish families, restrictions were imposed to prevent Catholic 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.  Then we visit St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, built between 1815 and 1825 on the site of a 12th-century Cistercian abbey of St. Mary. St. Mary's is not an official cathedral, even though it functions as one. St. Mary's functions as the main Catholic parish church of the city centre in Dublin.  The balance of your day is at leisure.  Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 4: Dublin to Galway.  After breakfast we depart Dublin for Galway.  First 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.  Mass at Clonmacnoise or a local church.   Upon arrival in Galway, enjoy an orientation tour of the city.  The city has attracted a bohemian crown of musicians and artists, which add so much to the character of the city.  A visit can start at Galway’s modern Cathedral, which was built in 1965. The visit can then continue across the Salmon Weir Bridge and along the trout stream to the Collegiate of St Nicholas of Myra, which was built in 1320. The Collegiate is close to Nora Barnacle’s house (Mrs James Joyce) and to the famous Lynch window from which the English language receive the word to Lynch (hang).  We conclude on Eyre square, the accepted centre of Galway City. On the western side of the square is Browne’s doorway which is all that remains of a mid 17th century merchants house. The square also has a statue to Padraig O’Conaire, a noted Irish writer and a curious rusted metal sculpture representing the famous Galway hooker - a boat which is unique to Galway.  Visit Galway Cathedral, the largest catholic church in Galway.  The cathedral is located on Nun’s Island, on the west bank of the River Corrib near Salmon Weir Bridge. It was the last large church in Ireland to be made from stone, and features a huge octagonal dome that complements the skyline of the City of Galway. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 5: Galway to Connemara.  This morning we depart Galway for Connemara, a land of lakes and rivers, bogs and mountains. A land of small villages where Gaelic is still the spoken language and where little has changed little since the beginning of time. It is without a doubt the wildest and the most romantic part of Ireland. Connemara is a real paradise for Nature lovers and those in search of strong emotions.   Then we visit Kylemore Abbey, an area located in the Kylemore Pass in Connemara. Mitchell Henry built the House in 1868, after having spent his honeymoon in the area.  The architecture is best described as neo-gothic and the house still displays all the characteristics of that period. One of Kylemore Abbey's most famous features is its miniature cathedral, built in 1870 and known locally as the Gothic church. Today, the abbey is home to the Irish order of Benedictine nuns.  Mass at Kylemore Abbey or a local church.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 6: Knock.   This morning visit Knock Shrine & Museum, a little town which 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. 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. Mass at Knock Shrine.  Then we visit 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 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. Dinner at a local restaurant and continue to Mayo for overnight.

Day 7: Mayo to Kerry.  After Mass, we first travel through the Burren Region which 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 placenames.  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.  Take the Shannon Car Ferry and continue to your hotel in Kerry area.   The main tourist routes of the West of Ireland's Shannon Region are linked via the Killimer-Tarbert car ferry. This pleasant, 20 minute journey travels across the Shannon Estuary which is almost 100km in length and 13km wide at its widest point. Ecologically, the Shannon estuary has a unique value with a group of bottle nosed dolphins resident in the estuary. As well as this, the estuary is an important habitat for migrating birds and wild fowl. Dinner and overnight in the Kerry area.

Day 8: 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. Visit Muckross House, a nineteenth century country residence with folk museum, the gardens at the rear are famous for their superb rhododendrons.   Celebrate Mass at a local church.  Killarney is home to St Mary’s, a beautiful Gothic-style building that serves as the cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Kerry.  Enjoy dinner and traditional entertainment at Kate Kearney’s Cottage or similar.

Day 9: Kerry to Cork.   After Mass we depart for Cork County to visit Blarney Castle,  situated in Blarney village and 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 or the Stone of Eloquence, which is traditionally believed, to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it.   Continue to Blarney Woollen Mills which now houses a large selection of Irish products. Enjoy a nice lunch (included) before some free time at leisure.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel 

Day 10: Cobh.   This morning we visit St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, County Cork.  It took 47 years to build and finally opened in 1911. Its spire stands 100 metres tall and the tower houses 42 bells, comprising the largest carillon in Ireland.  Mass at St Colman’s Cathedral or a local church.  Then we visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, located in the old Victorian Railway station in Cobh formally known as Queenstown which relates Cobh’s dramatic maritime history including how it was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic. The balance of your day is at leisure in Cobh.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 11: Cork to Limerick.  After breakfast we visit the Rock of Cashel, possibly the most photographed site in Ireland. The Rock of Cashel towers over the town of Cashel from its perch on a 200-foot high outcrop of limestone. Once the seat of the Kings of Munster, St. Patrick visited the rock in 450 AD, while Brian Boru was crowned the first high King of Ireland in the tenth century. Conservation work will continue on Cormac’s Chapel and at the site until further notice.  Mass at the Rock of Cashel or a local church.  Continue to our Limerick or area hotel.  This evening enjoy a medieval banquet and entertainment at Bunratty Castle or similar.  Overnight at our hotel.

Day 12: Farewell.    Transfer from your hotel to Shannon Airport for your onward journey – the end of a most memorable pilgrimage