Pilgrimage to Ireland - May 10, 2021
Walk the Pilgrim's Path
The lush land of Ireland beckons where Catholic history and ancient lore has been lived for centuries. A breath-taking landscape of castles, bogs, mountains, valleys, lakes, and seashores await us in a land that produced some of the greatest saints: St. Patrick and St. Kevin and some of the most loved devotions to Our Lady. We visit monks who have never stopped praying for more than 800 years despite harsh persecutions, pray at Our Lady of Knock Shrine, see where Christopher Columbus prayed, and immerse ourselves in true contemplation, all in Irish style!
Ireland Pilgrimage Itinerary
Our pilgrimage begins today as we depart on our overnight flight to Ireland. Meals and drinks served aloft.
Upon arrival in Dublin we will be met by our local Irish tour manager, who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage. We proceed into Dublin proper, the vibrant capital of Ireland, with a romantic aura of Old-World Europe, for a half-day tour. Beginning at the church of Our Lady of Lourdes, we venerate the tomb of Venerable Matt Talbot, 20th century commoner known for overcoming his alcoholism through the power of faith. We continue to St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral – the Catholic Cathedral of Dublin, and the General Post Office, a striking example of Georgian architecture and site of the Easter Rising of 1916. Our final stop before checking into our hotel will be at Trinity College to see the famous Book of Kells, the 9th century illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels. The remainder of the day will be free for personal activities before our first of two nights in Dublin.
Following breakfast, drive north to see the Celtic crosses in the historic ruins of Monasterboice, the remains of an early Christian monastic settlement. The three high crosses were constructed as early as the 10th century and other remaining ruins are from the 13th and 14th centuries. Continue on to the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick is said to have lit an Easter fire as a challenge to the pagan High King of Tara. In the afternoon visit St Peter’s Church in Drogheda, famous for its tall west gable, rose window, and for containing the national shrine of St. Oliver Plunkett, the last Roman Catholic to die in England. During our return to Dublin, we will stop at Silverstream Priory to pray evening Vespers with the Benedictine monks who commit their lives to ceaseless prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in a spirit of reparation.
We depart Dublin this morning for Glendalough. Tucked away in the Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough was established by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Seeking a place where he could commune with God without the distractions of worldly life, the young Kevin lived first in a tree, then in a cave, eventually attracting a following of those who wanted to pursue a similar monastic vocation. Explore the ruins of this ancient monastery and marvel at the faithful asceticism of the medieval monks. Continue our drive south to the coast to visit Our Lady’s Island, a tiny island at the juncture of the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea, surrounded by a salt lake and cut off from the sea by a sand bar. It has been a place of pilgrimage since pre-Christian times, and St. Abban founded the original Christian settlement here, evangelizing the area and dedicating the island to the Virgin Mary, thus establishing the first Marian shine in Ireland. Overnight in nearby Wexford.
We begin our day with a visit to the Irish National Heritage Park, an open-air museum that brings to life over 9000 years of Irish history. Continue to the Rock of Cashel, a monumental 12th century complex dominating the surrounding landscape. Tradition holds that it was here where Patrick first used the shamrock as an image of the Trinity and converted the pagan King of Munster. It hosts one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture in the region. After exploring this unique and historic location, we proceed to Cork for overnight.
This morning we begin at the Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Anne in Cork. We continue to Blarney Castle, which dates back to 1446 and is the third castle built on this site. We will climb onto the battlements to reach the Blarney Stone, said to impart the gift of eloquence to all that kiss it. After some shopping time in the Blarney Woollen Mills, the largest Irish shop in the world, we depart for Killarney, situated in a spectacular location amidst mountains, glens and lakes. Sometimes known as the “Best Kept Town” in all of Ireland, Killarney is teeming with history, Irish heritage, and hospitality. The remainder of this afternoon is free to enable us to explore the interesting craft shops, quaint historic buildings and churches, or perhaps sample the traditional form of local transport, the jaunting car (a horse drawn wagon).
Today we travel the road that winds around the beautiful Iveragh Peninsula, better known as “The Ring of Kerry.” It is undoubtedly one of the most magical places in all Ireland. Here bogs, mountains, valleys, lakes and sea blend into a landscape that is often breathtaking beyond words. Even the names of the towns seem to whisper their beauty: Cahirciveen, Glenbeigh, Killorglin and Sneem. Visit Muckross House and Abbey before returning to your hotel in Killarney for the night.
Depart Killarney for Galway. We then travel via the lunar landscape of the Burren to the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, a dramatic great sheer rock face rising 700 feet from the Atlantic Ocean. Continue to Galway, “the City of the Tribes,” and check into our hotel.
Following breakfast, visit the Galway Cathedral dedicated to Our Lady and St. Nicholas, and the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas with its famous Spanish Arch from where Columbus prayed before sailing for America. We will then depart Galway and travel through Connemara, an area of outstanding scenic grandeur. There is a brooding sense of Ireland’s ancient culture and traditions in this haunted and mystical area where Gaelic is still the everyday language. Visit Kylemore Abbey, the only remaining home of the Benedictine nuns in Ireland, before continuing to Knock for overnight.
This morning we celebrate Mass in the magnificent Basilica next to the original church where our Blessed Mother appeared in 1879 and where Pope John Paul II announced that the Church would be known as the Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland. In the afternoon there will be free time for individual worship and to enjoy Knock. This afternoon, we will visit Ballintubber Abbey (c.1216), the one abbey in the world where Catholics have continuously gathered for Mass for the past 800 years, despite the savage persecution. Return to Knock.
Depart Knock this morning for Dublin. We will enjoy a half-day tour of this historic city once again, visiting the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church where we will venerate the relics of St. Valentine the Martyr at his shrine contained within the church, as well as the statue known as Our Lady of Dublin, the best loved statue in the city. Proceed to two majestic Anglican Cathedrals: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, and Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin’s oldest building, dating from the year 1030. We’ll end our guided visit today in the Old Town at Dublin Castle, the historic heart of Dublin. The remainder of the day will be free to enjoy this city once more until our farewell dinner at a local pub featuring traditional Irish music.
Today our Irish Pilgrimage comes to an end. Following breakfast, transfer to Dublin Airport for our return flight to the United States.