Pilgrimage to Ireland
Spiritual Director: Fr. Sean Connolly
*Early Bird Discount: $150 per person - Book by December 31, 2017. Use Code: SCIRELAND18
Aug 1 - 9, 2018SC080118
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare
- All airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Centrally located hotels: (or similar)
- ~ 1 night: Aug 2 - 3, Westport, Mill Times Hotel
- ~ 2 nights: Aug 3 - 5, Knock, Knock House Hotel
- ~ 1 night: Aug 5 - 6, Limerick, Strand Hotel
- ~ 3 nights: Aug 6 - 9, Dublin, Iveagh Garden Hotel
- Transfers as per itinerary
- Breakfast and Dinner daily
- One Glass of Wine or Beer with dinners
- Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach
- Assistance of professional local guide
- Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
- Mass daily & Spiritual activities
- Luggage handling (1 piece per person)
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Lunches, Beverages unless mentioned, Tips to your guide and driver
Wednesday, August 1 | Departure
Depart from your home airport for your overnight flights to Ireland.
Thursday, August 2 | Welcome to Ireland
Upon arrival at Dublin airport meet with your driver/guide and depart for Westport. En-route visit Clonmacnoise: Clonmacnoise is a wonderful early Christian site founded by St. Ciaran 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 graveslabs in Western Europe. The original high crosses and a selection of graveslabs are on display in the visitor centre. In 1979 Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at this site. Guided tours are provided and the long and varied history of Clonmacnoise is recounted in an audio-visual presentation shown in the visitor centre. There are also exhibitions that deal with the flora, fauna and landscape of the region. Continue to Westport and check into your hotel. *Please note check in may not be available until 15h00. This evening enjoy dinner at your hotel. Overnight, dinner, bed & breakfast at your hotel in Westport.
Friday, August 3 | Connemara Region
Depart Westport and enjoy a scenic drive through the Connemara Region Today you will explore the Connemara Region. Connemara is 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 since the beginning of time. It is without a doubt the wildest and the most romantic part of Ireland. Connemara is a vast peninsula bordered by the arid and rocky coastline of Galway Bay in the south ~ a land characteristic for its stone walls and thatched cottages. On its northern shore the land is harsher and more secret, with spectacular views of the Ocean and the beautiful fjord of Killary Harbour, as well as the steep mountains overlooking numerous lakes and large bog areas. Connemara is a real paradise for Nature lovers and those in search of strong emotions. In 1951, John Ford's great movie "The Quiet Man" starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Barry Fitzgerald was made, and filming was centred in the village of Cong on the Mayo-Galway border.
Then visit Kylemore Abbey: Kylemore Abbey is stunningly located in the Kylemore Pass in Connemara. Mitchell Henry built the House in 1868, after having spent his honeymoon in the area. The architec-ture 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. They established a private school for young girls, which was the renowned Kylemore Abbey International School. The school eventually closed in 2010. Facilities at Kylemore include a visitor centre, an exhibi-tion housed in the main reception rooms of the house and a video which takes the visitor through the history of the house and its occupants. The Gothic church is available to visit. If time allows guests can also visit the Kylemore Abbey Victorian Walled Garden was laid out in 1867 and took three years to complete. A bus service provided from the front door of the Abbey directly to the garden and is the only permitted means of access.
Also visit the Connemara National Park Visitor Centre: Situated in the west of Ireland in County Gal-way, Connemara National Park is one of six such national parks in Ireland, with scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. The visitor centre features include exhibitions, the 'Man and the landscape' multi-lingual audio visual show and tea room (seasonal). A summer programme of guided walks and special events for younger visitors are also available at the visitor centre.
Continue to Corrib Lake and enjoy a cruise, which is the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland. It is also the best way to see Galway and its surroundings. Continue to Knock. Enjoy dinner at your hotel. Overnight, dinner, bed & breakfast at your hotel in Knock.
Saturday, August 4 | Knock
Today enjoy the day at Knock. We will visit Knock Shrine situated in the plains of East Mayo. It is one of the world's leading Marian shrines. On August 21, 1879 fifteen women, men and children, wit-nessed an Apparition of Mary at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. Knock is a very popular pilgrimage destination, and in 1979 Pope John Paul II visited this holy place. Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited the Shrine in June of 1993. One and a half million pilgrims visit the Shrine annually. Spend the balance of your day in Knock at leisure and enjoy celebrating Mass. Return to Knock and enjoy dinner at your hotel. Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at your hotel in Knock.
Sunday, August 5 | Knock to Limerick
This morning depart Knock for Limerick. First visit of the day is Dunguaire Castle: Dunguaire Castle was built in 1520 by the O' Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. The Castle takes its name from the nearby ancient fort of Guaire, King of Connaught who died is 662 AD. This restored 16th century tower house sits on a rocky outcrop 200m (300 yards) outside the picturesque village of Kinvara. In 1924 Dunguaire was bought and restored by Oliver St. John Gogarty, the famous surgeon and literary figure. It became the venue for meetings of the literary revivalists such as W.B. Yeats, his patron Lady Gregory, George Bernard Shaw, Edward Martin and J.M. Synge. Subsequently the castle became the property of Shannon Development. Today the restored castle gives an insight into the lifestyle of the people who lived from 1520 to modern times. During the summer months it plays host to the Dunguaire Castle Banquets in the evenings. Dunguaire Castle is open daily for visitors to explore form the end of April to September. The Castle is 27km from Galway city.
Then visit Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre: Situated on the Atlantic Ocean and bordering the Burren region, 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. The cliffs reach their highest point just north of O' Brien's Tower built by Cornelius O' Brien, a descend-ant of Brian Boru, to entertain his lady friends. A visit of the tower is also possible. The sweeping view across the Atlantic has recently been ranked the best 'cliff-view' on the planet by Conde Nast Traveler. The respected travel publication has voted the world-famous landmark at the top of a new chart of ' Nine Gorgeous Cliff Views That Rival The Grand Canyon'.
Continue your drive and lastly visit Quin Abbey: In the 14th century, the Franciscan abbey at Quin was founded just 10 km from Ennis in County Clare. The cloisters, which remain one of the abbey's most prominent features, were constructed in the 15th century. Additionally, from the top of the tower, visitors can take in stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Close to the Abbey is found the gothic church of St Fibghin which dates from the 13th century. Check into your Limerick hotel and enjoy dinner. Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at your hotel in Limerick.
Monday, August 6 | Limerick to Dublin
This morning depart Limerick and journey to Dublin. En-route visit 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 here in the tenth century. Granted to the church in the twelfth century, by the O'Brien clan, today the impressive stone walls enclose a round tower, a cathedral, a twelfth century Romanesque chapel and high crosses. The Vicars Choral has been recently restored and its basement houses a small museum of artefacts found on the site. One of the leading visitor attractions in Ireland, in 2011 it was visited by Queen Elizabeth II on her historic first visit to the Republic of Ireland.
Then visit Holy Cross Abbey: Located 6 km from Thurles on the banks of the River Suir, the pictur-esque Cistercian Holy Cross Abbey was originally built in 1168 by Donal Mor O'Brien for the Benedic-tine Order. The monastery was colonized by monks from Monasteranenagh in County Limerick. It was given the name Holy Cross as the monastery housed a portion of the true cross. This relic is now enshrined in the Abbey. It became a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the country. Under the patronage of James Butler, the fourth Earl of Ormonde, much of the abbey was rebuilt in the 15th century, but after suppression, it was eventually left in ruins The church has many interesting features including a variety of fascinating windows, mural paintings and many fine carvings. The abbey was in ruins until the early 1970's, but a massive restoration project turned the Cistercian cloisters and chapels into a living church. In the restored West Range is a tourist office, an exhibition area featuring an audio-visual, a shop and toilet facilities.
Also visit Glendalough Visitor Centre: This early Christian monastic site was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Set in a glaciated valley with two lakes, the monastic remains include a superb round tower, stone churches and decorated crosses. The Visitor Centre has an interesting exhibition on Glendalough detailing the history, archae-ology and wildlife of this area of Wicklow and includes an audio-visual show. French, Italian and Spanish guided tours are available all year by advance booking. While the visitor centre is fully acces-sible for visitors with disabilities, access to the monastic site is very difficult for wheelchair us-ers. Continue to Dublin for dinner and overnight.
Tuesday, August 7 | Dublin
This morning meet with your day guide and enjoy a panoramic city tour of Dublin. Enjoy a panoramic tour of Dublin City. Here you will discover the north and south 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.
Then visit Trinity College and Book of Kells. Thomas Burgh built the Old Library building in the 18th century. Today it houses one of Ireland's most illustrious books, the 9th century "Book of Kells". Before viewing the famous book, visitors pass through an excellent exhibition based on the Book of Kells and other important books written in monasteries around Ireland from the 9th century. After viewing the Book of Kells visitors are invited to visit the Long Room built in 1745. Once the principal library of the University, it now contains over two hundred thousand books and manuscripts of the Trinity's oldest volumes. Brian Boru's harp said to be the " oldest harp in Ireland" and a copy of the 1916 proclamation, one of the most important documents relating to Irish history are also on display in the Long Room. In 2015, Conde Nast Traveler magazine included visiting the Book of Kells as one of the '50 things to do in Europe before you die'.
Also visit St. Patrick's Cathedral. Built in honour of Ireland's patron saint, Saint Patrick's Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. The parish church of Saint Patrick on this site was granted collegiate status in 1191, and raised to cathedral status in 1224. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican Communion). St Patrick's is Gothic in style and its splendid interior is adorned with funeral monuments, such as The Boyle Family Memorial and the grave of Dean Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver's Travels). 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. Dinner and overnight.
Wednesday, August 8 | Dublin
This morning visit Christ Church Cathedral. King Sitric Silkenbeard built Dublin's first (wooden) church on this site in 1038. He was the first Christian Viking king of Dublin. The Anglo-Norman Richard de Clare (Strongbow) built the current building in 1172. Ravaged by time it was almost fully restored towards the end of the 19th Century. Like St. Patrick's Cathedral, it is adorned with Funeral monu-ments, including the reputed tomb of Strongbow, its founder and Irelands first Norman Conqueror. Unlike St Patrick's, however, Christ Church possesses a crypt, which stretches under almost its entire length and much of the Cathedrals memorabilia is displayed here. Choral services are sung four times per week during term time either by the professional mixed-adult Cathedral Choir or by the Cathe-dral Girls' Choir. Audio-guides are available to hire, which give a detailed tour of the cathedral includ-ing excerpts of the cathedral choir singing.
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Tonight enjoy dinner and entertainment at Merry Ploughboys Pub or similar. The Merry Ploughboys live in concert is widely regarded as the best traditional music show in Dublin and also as a must see for any visitors to Dublin city. The show is a highly entertaining performance of live traditional Irish music, song and Irish dancing. From start to finish, this is a show based on fantastic interaction between the performers and the audience. Overnight in Dublin.
Thursday, August 9 | Farewell
Prepare for your departure to the airport and your flights home with memories for a lifetime!