October 9 – 19, 2017 • $3,499
Dublin • Trinity College • Monasterboice • Armagh • Belfast • Giant’s Causeway • Derry •
Slieve League • Tipperary • Waterford • Blarney Castle • Rock of Cashel
Price is per person, based on double occupancy room;
includes charter bus to and from Newark, airfare, lodging, touring, meals per itinerary, more
In 2015, I led 47 pilgrims to Ireland to experience the country’s rich spiritual and cultural history. Across the Emerald Isle, we visited churches and cathedrals, ruins and relics, the birthplaces of saints and scholars. (Some of us even kissed the Blarney Stone!) We celebrated Mass together every day, prayed the rosary as we traveled, and allowed ourselves to be transformed by the Spirit during the remarkable journey.
I am pleased to announce that I will lead a pilgrimage to Ireland again this year. This year’s itinerary will take us to new historic and scenic sites including the Rock of Cashel, Monasterboice, and Giant’s Causeway, and allow us to return to the vibrant cities of Dublin and Belfast. Each day will include Mass and prayer, history and lore, and nourishment for soul and mind.
This pilgrimage is again sponsored by the Catholic Sun, our diocesan news media, and more information about the journey can be found on its website, thecatholicsun.com. You can also contact Editor Katherine Long directly with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or (315) 422-8153.
I hope you will consider joining me on this unique journey of faith.
Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse
Day 1: DEPART USA
We depart the USA from Newark Airport and travel to the Emerald Isle. Relax and enjoy the in-flight movies, dinner, and light snack aloft.
DAY 2: DUBLIN
This morning, we arrive in Dublin’s Fair City, where we are met by our driver/guide who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage. We begin by celebrating a private Mass at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church near the airport, followed by a hearty Irish breakfast at a local pub.
Rejuvenated, we travel the 25 minutes by coach to downtown Dublin and enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour of the highlights of this rich historical city. Its graceful Georgian townhouses with noted colorful doors, Georgian Squares, prominent public buildings, and peaceful gardens make a delightful sight along the River Liffey. See the Phoenix Park and the Papal Cross where the Holy Father Pope John Paul II celebrated an outdoor Mass for over 1 million people.
Our tour continues to Trinity College and includes a visit to The Book of Kells, a 9th century version of the Christian Gospels. Our city tour ends with a visit to Guinness Storehouse.
Dinner and overnight at our hotel just outside Dublin.
DAY 3: THE BOYNE VALLEY
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at our hotel before heading to The Boyne Valley and to Bru Na Boinne, the largest and one of the most important prehistoric Megalithic sites in Ireland. The site is a complex mound of chamber tombs, standing stones, and other prehistoric enclosures dating from early 3500 BC.
We celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Church in Drogheda and visit the Relic of St Oliver’s Head.
Our next destination today is Monasterboice, one of Ireland’s earliest Christian sites, the name deriving from the Irish “Mainistir Bhuithe” (monastery of Buite). St. Buite was an Irish monk and follower of St. Patrick. It is said that in 480, St. Buite, on a return trip from Rome, raised Nechtan Morbet, the King of Pictland (Scotland), from the dead. At Monasterboice today you can see the Round Tower, the magnificent High Crosses, and the remains of two churches.
We’ll continue to the nearby Olde Mellifont Abbey, which was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland, founded in 1142 by St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh. Mellifont Abbey prospered and by 1170 it had 100 monks and 300 lay brothers. Mellifont Abbey was the first of many Cistercian abbeys built in Ireland in the formal style of French Cistercian abbeys.
Our wonderful day ends at the Hill of Tara in the Boyne Valley, a ceremonial site associated with kingship rituals. From the time of the first Celtic influence until the Norman invasion in the 12th century, the Hill of Tara was Ireland’s political and spiritual capital. The King of Tara represented a very old ideal of sacred kingship in Ireland, imbued with mythical aura. Many Kings of Tara were also High Kings of Ireland.
Our day ends with dinner together at our hotel.
DAY 4: ARMAGH
Today, we visit the two Cathedrals of Armagh. Both are named after St Patrick. The Church of Ireland cathedral was originally founded by St. Patrick in 455 AD and the Roman Catholic cathedral had its foundation stone laid on the 17th March 1840. Both are built on hilltops overlooking the city. We will celebrate Mass in the Roman Catholic Cathedral.
We continue onto Downpatrick, one of Ireland’s most historic and ancient towns. According to tradition, St. Patrick was buried here in 461 on Cathedral Hill within the grounds of Down Cathedral. Our final visit today is to the wonderful St Patrick’s Visitors Centre to learn more of the story of Ireland’s National Saint and his legacy before departing for our hotel in Belfast.
Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 5: BELFAST & MOUNT STEWART HOUSE
Following breakfast, we meet our local Belfast city tour guide and enjoy a panoramic city tour of Belfast by coach. See Stormont and Parliament Buildings, the River Lagan, St. George’s Market, Victoria Square, High Street, the Cathedral Quarter, and St Anne’s Cathedral. We will stop for a visit to Crumlin Road Gaol and Courthouse for a superb guided tour of the Gaol (Jail). Our city tour will continue with a visit to the Shankill Road, Falls Road, and the famous political wall murals of the city.
We will stop to celebrate Mass at St. Malachy’s Church in Belfast during the city tour before traveling to Mount Stewart House & Gardens, outside of Belfast, for the afternoon. It is one of the most inspiring and unusual gardens in the National Trust’s ownership. The garden reflects a rich tapestry of design and great planting artistry which was the hallmark of Edith, Lady Londonderry. The mild climate of Strangford Lough allows astonishing levels of experimental planting. The formal areas exude a strong Mediterranean feel and resemble an Italian villa landscape. Mount Stewart House has been the home of the Londonderry family since the mid-18th Century and is full of wonderful artifacts and treasures. Enjoy a guided tour of the opulent house and learn about its fascinating heritage and historical world famous artifacts and artwork.
DAY 6: THE ANTRIM COAST AND DERRY
Leaving Belfast behind us, we travel northwards along the Antrim Coast to the Giant’s Causeway, a vast array of 40,000 world-famous basalt hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. Flanked by the wild north Atlantic Causeway on one side and a landscape of landscape of dramatic cliffs on the other, the Giant’s Causeway has for centuries inspired artists, stirred scientific debate, and captivated all who see it. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We continue to Derry, Ireland’s Maiden City on the shores of Lough Foyle. On arrival in Derry, we meet our local guide who will escort us on a gently-paced walking tour of the city. See the murals of the Bogside, the commemorative park to the victims of the “troubles,” the 17th century St. Columb’s Cathedral, and the soaring spire of the Catholic St. Eugene’s Cathedral before taking a stroll along the famous walls dating back to 1603. Our city tour ends by celebrating Mass at St. Eugene’s Cathedral.
The final leg of our day today is the journey from Co. Derry across to Co. Donegal, where we will check into our hotel for a two-night stay. Dinner tonight at our hotel.
Day 7: GLENVEAGH NATIONAL PARK & SLIEVE LEAGUE
This morning we visit Glenveagh National Park, home to a spectacular castle and famed for its red deer. We visit the visitors’ centre at the entrance to the grounds and enjoy an introduction to the remarkable geology and flora of the area. After a short trip by minibus we arrive at the castle for a tour of the interior, with time allowed to stroll the beautiful formal Italian and French gardens before returning to our coach.
Our afternoon continues with a visit to Slieve League, Europe’s highest and most spectacular cliffs standing at 600 metres above the ocean, on through the Glengesh Pass, then transferring into a minibus for the short drive to the cliffs. Standing at the viewing point on a fine day, one can see across Donegal Bay to Sligo, Leitrim, and Mayo and out across the Atlantic Ocean. Along with the breathtakingly beautiful views at the Slieve League, the surrounding area is steeped in history. On the short journey to the cliffs, our guide will point out all the interesting landmarks and structures on the mountain, including Napoleonic towers and the navigational aids used by aircraft in WW2.
DAY 8: TIPPERARY
Today is the longest drive of our trip. Following a hearty breakfast, we check out of our hotel and leave Co. Donegal traveling to Belleek in Co. Fermanagh to visit the famous Belleek Pottery Museum and Showroom, where we experience the life and times of Ireland’s oldest pottery.
Our next stop is to Tobernault Holy Well in Co. Sligo, where we stop to celebrate the Rosary.
Our journey continues further south to County Tipperary and to Thurles, home of Irish Hurling and Irish Football. We celebrate Mass today in the Cathedral of the Assumption before checking into our local hotel where we overnight at a hotel in Ireland’s Premier County!
DAY 9: WATERFORD & BLARNEY
An early departure to Waterford City so we can enjoy a guided tour of Ireland’s oldest Viking City. Waterford was settled by the Vikings nearly 1100 years ago. It is home to the country’s oldest civic building, Reginald’s Tower, which has been used as a mint, a prison, and a military store since it was built at the beginning of the 13th century. Your guide will explain the medieval history of the city while taking you past National Monuments and Cathedrals. We have included a visit the House of Waterford Crystal to see the world famous glass-making process of this luxury brand.
Continue on to Cobh, the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912. Learn the history of the town when we visit the Cobh Heritage Centre. Cobh was also the departure point for over 2.5 million emigrating Irish, the majority to the USA. You’ll learn their full story as it is told in the excellent exhibition.
We travel across the south of the country to Blarney Castle in Co. Cork, a 15th century castle, home to the MacCarthy clan for centuries and now the mecca for tourist worldwide in their quest for eloquence, granted by scaling the castle’s tower steps and kissing “the Blarney Stone” high in the battlements. Our final stop today is to Blarney Parish church to celebrate Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
We return to our hotel for dinner together.
DAY 10: TIPPERARY
Our first visit today is to Ballyowen House, just outside Cashel. It is one of the finest remaining examples of neo- Classical Georgian architecture of a large Irish Country House. The owners throw open their doors and welcome you in for a cuppa tea, a chat and listen to the history of the house, told with wonderful enthusiasm by its owners.
Our next stop is to the Rock of Cashel, the stone fort of Munster. The Rock was the seat of Munster Kings from 370 to 1101 AD when it was gifted to the church. It is a spectacular archaeological site with a collection of medieval ecclesiastical buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale of Tipperary. Legends tell us St. Patrick is said to have plucked a shamrock here to explain the mystery of the Trinity, thus giving a new emblem to Christian Ireland.
Our journey continues to the town of Clonmel, a busy market town, home to Bishop Cunningham’s family. We celebrate a special Mass here in St. Mary’s Parish Church before traveling to the nearby village of Cahir to enjoy a short tour of Cahir Castle.
Our day is complete with a wonderful farewell dining experience at Chez Hans, situated at the base of the Rock of Cashel in a converted church.
DAY 11: HOME
Today we enjoy our last breakfast together on this memorable vacation and then head for the airport for our flight home. We will carry the stories of the saints and beauty of the Emerald Isle in our hearts forever.
Reserve your spot on our pilgrimage to Ireland with a $350 deposit. Contact Katherine Long at email@example.com or (315) 422-8153 for details.