13 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 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.    

Day 3: Dublin.  This morning visit Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church and view the shrine of St. Valentine.  Whitefriar Street Church is located in Dublin city centre, not far from St Patrick’s Church, another of the city’s major ecclesiastical sites. Whitefriar was founded in 1279 and since 1974, it has been under the care of the Order of Carmelites. The house of worship is one of the most well-known and largest in Dublin and includes a shrine with the remains of St. Valentine, which Pope Gregory XVI gifted to the church in 1835. There are also shrines to Our Lady of Dublin and St Albert of Sicily, from which many people take water, thought to be curative.   Mass at Whitefriar Street Church or a visit to St Mary’s Pro Cathedral to celebrate Mass.  Enjoy the balance of your day at leisure.  This evening enjoy dinner and entertainment at the Merry Ploughboy Pub or similar. Overnight, bed and breakfast at your hotel in Dublin or area.

Day 4: Dublin to Armagh.  This morning depart Dublin and journey to Armagh.   En-route we visit St Peter’s Church in Drogheda, constructed in 1884 using local limestone. The site previously housed a church built in 1791 and parts of that structure were incorporated into the present building, which boasts an impressive Gothic architectural style. The church is also famous for housing the shrine of St Oliver Plunkett, who is credited with bringing Jesuits to Drogheda. He was hanged for treason in 1681. Pope Paul VI declared him a saint in 1973, and his preserved head forms the centrepiece of the shrine.   Mass at one of the church visits on this day.  Then visit Monasterboice, one of the most famous religious sites in the country, was built in the 5th century a few miles north of Drogheda in a lovely-secluded setting. It is said that the monastic site was founded by St Buithe a follower of St, Patrick. With 2 churches, a round tower and 2 High Crosses it is one of the most visited religious sites in Ireland.  The treasure of this site is the high Cross-of Muiredach. Muiredach was the Abbott in Monasterboice until 922 and the prayer at the base of the cross is translated as “ a prayer for Muiredach for whom the cross was made”.  Considered the finest High Cross in the country, it is the pinnacle of achievement with many sculpted biblical scenes, which are still legible today. Continue to Armagh and visit Armagh RC Cathedral.  St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is an imposing site, perched on the hilltop in Armagh and dominating its skyline. Sculptured statuary forms a unique arch over the main entrance. Armagh is the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 5: Armagh to Belfast.  This morning we celebrate Mass at a local church.   Then we visit St Patrick’s, known the worldwide as the patron saint of Ireland and that he is celebrated on the 17th March every year. Now discover the story of St Patrick and his place in Ireland’s history at the St Patrick Centre, located beside Down Cathedral and St Patricks Grave in the Medieval heart of Downpatrick. The exhibition also examines the major impact of Irish missionaries in Dark Age Europe - a legacy which remains to this day. Upon arrival in Belfast enjoy a panoramic tour of the city, the leaning Albert Memorial Clock tower (Irelands answer to the Tower of Pisa) and the Opera House, which is one of Belfast’s great landmarks. Some tours will take in a visit to the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard, where the Titanic was built and launched in 1912. A visit to the Shankill and Falls road will be of interest as it will give the visitor an indication of how life was in Belfast during the troubles.   Dinner at a local pub/restaurant. Overnight at our hotel.

Day 6: Belfast,  After Mass at a local church we visit Titanic Belfast which recreates the story of the world’s most famous ship in a new iconic, six floor building right beside the historic site of the original ship’s construction. As you journey through the nine large galleries of the interactive exhibition, you will uncover the true story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900's, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. Highlights include breathtaking views to the slip-ways where the Titanic was launched and the Voyage to the bottom of the sea in the unique Ocean Exploration Centre with live links to contemporary undersea exploration. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at your hotel in Belfast or area.

Day 7: Belfast to Letterkenny.  After Mass at a local church we depart Belfast and journey to Letterkenny to visit the Corrymeela Centre, a Christian community of reconciliation drawn from many traditions that, individually and together, are committed to reconciliation through the healing of social, religious and political divisions that exist in Northern Ireland and throughout the world. Corrymeela Ballycastle seeks to be an open village where encounter, truth telling and hospitality are expressed while contemplating and living out what it means to embrace difference, heal divisions and enable reconciliation.   Then visit the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s favorite giant Finn McCool at the new Giants Causeway Visitor centre on the North Antrim coast. According to legend Finn McCool created the Giants Causeway by building stepping stones to Scotland to challenge the Scottish giant Benandonner! Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 8: County Donegal.  Today explore County Donegal.  Visit Slieve League Cliffs, Europe's highest sea cliffs, although less famous than the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.  The site is mostly untouched by tourism and walks through a largely unspoilt landscape giving visitors a spectacular view of the coast and the cliff face. Return to Letterkenny and visit St Eunan’s Cathedral and celebrate Mass.   Dinner at a local pub/restaurant and overnight at our hotel.

Day 9: Letterkenny to Mayo.  This morning we depart Letterkenny and journey to Mayo.  En-route we stop at the Fr Peyton Memorial Centre in County Mayo which commemorates the life and apostolic work of Father Peyton, one of Ireland's most famous priests and internationally known as the 'Rosary Priest'. The centre is a place of respite, prayer and peace. It is highly respected by pilgrims.  Celebrate Mass at a local church.  Then we’ll stop at a local pub/restaurant for lunch (included).   Time at leisure this afternoon before dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 10: County Mayo.  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 recognized 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 11: County Mayo to Galway.  This morning we visit Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, 5 miles from the picturesque town of Westport and overlooking Clew Bay in County Mayo, considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Its religious significance dates back to the time of the pagans, when people are thought to have gathered here to celebrate the beginning of harvest season. Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation.  You will also get information on Clew Bay, the National Famine Monument and Murrisk Abbey.   Then journey through the Connemara Region, 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

located in the Kylemore Pass. Mitchell Henry built the House in 1868, after having spent his honeymoon in the area.  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. Celebrate Mass.  Dinner and overnight in Galway. Mass at one of today’s visits.

Day 12: Galway to Dublin.  This morning, after Mass, we drive to 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. Continue to Dublin to spend the balance of your day at leisure.  This evening enjoy dinner and a canal cruise on the Canal Boat Restaurant or similar.  The replica of a 1922 Guinness brewery canal barge offers a new elegant and authentic cruise experience along a beautiful stretch of the Dublin’s Grand Canal. Retrace the history of the worlds most famous Stout and its association with Dublin and the Grand Canal. The cruise brings the visitor through 200 year old canal locks and under cut stone bridges. Hear the history of the canal and its association with the city’s many poets and writers Patrick Kavanagh, Brendan Behan and WB Yeats. Overnight at our hotel.

Day 13: Farewell.  Transfer to the Dublin Airport for our journey home – the end of a memorable Irish pilgrimage.