Ireland, September 2017

Ireland is a land of enchantment.

She is full of history, laughter, and song. There truly are forty shades of green. And they are all waiting to embrace you!

kc-irelandOur “Journey to Ireland” will take us to some of the better-known sites like Killarney, Blarney, Waterford, Dublin, and Galway. But you can be assured that you will also visit the “real” Ireland as we stop in out-of-the-way villages to meet the people. Some of them might even be relatives of yours or mine!

tw-irelandGet ready for the world-famous Irish breakfasts that provide everyone with enough to get them through a day or two. Prepare yourself to down a cup of tea or a pint of Guinness. Open your hearts to the lilt of Irish laughter because your eyes will smile through this wonderful journey to the Emerald Isle of which we are all citizens, at least on St. Patrick’s Day.

Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to catch a leprechaun or find a pot of gold. You can be assured that blessings God has showered on the Irish people will touch your lives long after you return home.

Sincerely yours in Christ, Sr. Karen Collier and Msgr. Thomas Welbers

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Our Daily Itinerary

MON, SEPT 4, DAY 1: DEPART THE USA:

We depart en route to Dublin via Chicago where we change planes, with complimentary meals & beverages served aloft on our overseas flight.

Here’s the map of our day-by-day itinerary throughout Ireland. It is interactive, and you can zoom in and out.

TUE, SEPT 5, DAY 2: FAILTE (WELCOME) TO IRELAND / CLONMACNOISE / CASTLEBAR:

We arrive at Dublin Airport and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative who will accompany us throughout our journey. We board our motor coach and make our way to the western side of the Emerald Isle.

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Monastery of Clonmacnoise

We stop at the monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise, one of Ireland’s most celebrated holy places. Here we see the 12th century round tower, ancient High Crosses, as well as the many churches and temples at this hallowed site. After our visit and lunch on our own, we continue on to Castlebar. Dinner this evening is served at our hotel. (D)

WED, SEPT 6, DAY 3: CASTLEBAR: EXCURSION TO KNOCK & VISIT OF BALLINTUBBER ABBEY:

This morning we enjoy an excursion to Knock, (also here) visited each year by more than 1.5 million pilgrims. Upon arriving here as a pilgrim in the autumn of 1979, Pope John Paul II declared: “Now I am at the goal of my pilgrimage to Ireland!.” Upon arrival in Knock, we enjoy a guided tour of the Shrine’s grounds to learn the story of the apparitions here. We celebrate Mass and take some time to have lunch on our own.

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Croagh Patrick

Driving to Claremorris, we visit Ballintubber Abbey where Mass has been celebrated daily for over 800 years! St. Patrick baptized converts at a well here. This was the traditional starting point for the annual pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Croagh Patrick. We will have the services of a local guide here. Dinner is at a local restaurant in Castlebar. (B, D)

THU, SEPT 7, DAY 4: CASTLEBAR / BURREN / CLIFFS OF MOHER / SHANNON FERRY / KILLARNEY:

Today we leave Castlebar and head south, passing thru the mesmerizing landscapes of The Burren region. Its stone formations have lain unspoiled since the ice-age. We visit the Burren Centre for an introduction to the ancient mysteries of this unspoiled region of Ireland. We stop at the town of Ballyvaughan for Mass at a local church.

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Cliffs of Moher

We continue to the Cliffs of Moher, sheer cliffs dropping 600 feet to the water below, one of the most impressive stretches of shoreline on the west coast of Ireland. After some time for lunch on our own, we take the Shannon Car Ferry across the Shannon Estuary. We continue on to Killarney for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

FRI, SEPT 8, DAY 5: KILLARNEY: EXCURSION TO THE DINGLE PENINSULA:

Today, after breakfast, we visit the Dingle Peninsula (daingean = “fortress”). Reached by the spectacular coastal road girdling impressive mountains, the small harbor town of Dingle has all of Ireland’s charm tucked into its crooked streets and shops.

The town is renowned for its restaurants, most of which offer excellent local seafood. Dingle was an embarkation point for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela to visit the shrine of St. James. It is said that the medieval church in Dingle, dedicated to St. James, was built by the Spanish. Mass will be celebrated at a local church in Dingle. After our visit, we return to Killarney for some free time. Dinner tonight is on our own to explore the local restaurant scene. (B)

Good time for Rick Steves’ Western Ireland program.

SAT, SEPT 9, DAY 6: KILLARNEY: RING OF KERRY & CRUISE ON THE LAKE KILLARNEY:

This morning we join the local community for Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Then we are off for a thrilling full-day scenic ride around the famed Ring of Kerry, a continuously changing landscape of dramatic cliff side views and breathtaking seascapes via Killorglin and Glenbeigh.

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Killarney Lakes from Ladies’ View

We stop for lunch on our own and afterward continue our tour via Caherdaniel, Sneem, Moll’s Gap and Ladies View. This afternoon we enjoy a relaxing cruise on Lough Leane, the most famous of Killarney Lakes. Later this evening we gather at The Laurels, Killarney’s famous “singing pub” where we enjoy lots of rousing ballad singing, music, craic and dancing. (B, D)

Rick Steves’ “South Ireland” includes some dramatic aerial shots of the Ring of Kerry.

SUN, SEPT 10, DAY 7: KILLARNEY / BLARNEY CASTLE / DUBLIN:

This morning we are off to Blarney Castle. An ancient stronghold of the MacCarthys, Lords of Muskerry, it is one of Ireland’s oldest and most historic castles. 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. Mass will be celebrated at a local church. After some time for lunch on our own, we continue on to Dublin for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

MON, SEPT 11, DAY 8: DUBLIN: VISIT OF THE CITY & LEISURE, GUINESS STOREHOUSE:

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Book of Kells: the Four Evangelists

This morning, we enjoy a half-day sightseeing tour of the city. Our itinerary includes viewing Georgian Dublin and Leinster House (Parliament). We drive by St. Patrick Cathedral (Church of Ireland), dating from 450 AD; Christchurch Cathedral (founded by King Sitric of the Dublin Norsemen in 1038 and rebuilt in 1169 by the Normans) and Kilmainham Gaol, the infamous prison built in 1792. We visit the Trinity College (also click here) where the famous Book of Kells is kept (also click here).

After the conclusion of our city tour, we celebrate Mass at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral (also click here). Then we take some time for lunch on our own. We continue on with a guided tour to the famous Guinness Storehouse, a spectacular attraction, designed to woo you with the wonders of the “dark stuff.” The star attraction is undoubtedly the top-floor Gravity Bar with 360-degree floor-to-ceiling glass walls that offer a nonpareil view out over the city while you sip your free pint. Dinner this evening is at our hotel. (B, D)

TUE, SEPT 12, DAY 9: DUBLIN: EXCURSION TO KILDARE & THE IRISH NATIONAL STUD FARM:

This morning, after breakfast, we enjoy an excursion to Kildare where we celebrate Mass at a local church and visit the sites connected with St. Brigid the “Patroness of Ireland”. In ancient Ireland, Christianity and paganism melded together into Celtic tradition. Sites of pagan worship also became associated with Christianity.

Brigid’s feast day falls on February 1st, the date of Imbolg, the pagan festival of Spring. Brigid’s small oratory at Cill-Dara (Kildare) became a center of religion and learning, and developed into this cathedral city.

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You never know who you’ll run into here.

She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and appointed Saint Conleth spiritual pastor of them. We will visit the present cathedral, a restored Norman cathedral dating from 1223.

After some time for lunch on our own, we visit the Irish National Stud, the heart of Ireland’s thoroughbred industry. It contains a Stallion breeding farm as well as elegant Japanese and Irish style gardens plus an equine museum. Dinner this evening is on our own. (B)

WED, SEPT 13, DAY 10: DUBLIN: GLENDALOUGH & LEISURE:

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St. Kevin Church, Glendalough

After enjoying our full Irish breakfast, we depart for Glendalough – the Glen between the Two Lakes one of Ireland’s most beloved early Monastic sites. According to legend, St. Kevin retired to this spot to be alone, living as a hermit for years. When his followers became too numerous, he was compelled to found a monastic community to accommodate them, the ruins of which we can still see here today. In time, this community became a great center of learning known as “Rome of the West.” Our visit includes the Interpretive Center for Celtic Spirituality. We will celebrate Mass at St. Kevin’s Church. We then return to Dublin for the balance of the day at leisure. This evening enjoy dinner and entertainment at Taylors Three Rock. (B, D)

THU, SEPT 14, DAY 11: SLAN LEAT (GOOD BYE) TO IRELAND:

Early this morning we transfer to the Dublin airport for our return flight to the USA. Please note that you will clear U.S. Customs at the Dublin Airport, so that when you return to the USA, there will be no U.S. Customs procedure. (B)