Ireland: the Emerald Isle

A 10-Day Catholic Tour to Ireland
With: Joseph Pearce and Andrew Shafer, Aquinas College Travel Program
June 7-16, 2016


Joseph PearceA native of England, Joseph Pearce is writer in residence at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, and Director of the Aquinas Center for Faith and Culture. He is editor of the St. Austin Review (, an international review of Catholic culture, series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions (, and executive director of Catholic Courses (

The internationally acclaimed author of many books, which include bestsellers such as The Quest for Shakespeare, Tolkien: Man and Myth, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis and The Catholic Church, Literary Converts, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile, and Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc, Joseph Pearce is a world-recognized biographer of modern Christian literary figures. His books have been published and translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Italian, Korean, Mandarin and Polish.

Pearce has hosted two 13-part television series about Shakespeare on EWTN, and has also written and presented documentaries on EWTN on the Catholicism of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Pearce has participated and lectured at a wide variety of international and literary events at major colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Europe, Africa and South America. He is also a regular guest on national and international television and radio programs, and has served as consultant for film documentaries on J.R.R. Tolkien and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

To learn more about Joseph Pearce, please visit


Trip Itinerary:


Day 1. Tuesday, June 7: Transatlantic flight

Begin your journey to the Emerald Isle with your transatlantic flight to Dublin.


Day 2. Wednesday, June 8: Dublin

Welcome to Ireland! Upon arrival in Dublin, meet your tour escort who will accompany you throughout your pleasant journey. Your sightseeing includes a visit to Trinity College, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I on the site of an Augustinian monastery. Visit its spectacular Old Library and its Treasury that houses the Books of Kells, the most richly decorated of Ireland’s medieval illuminated manuscripts; a work of the monks of Iona that fled to Kells in 606 AD after a Viking raid. It contains the four Gospels in Latin. Afterwards, visit St. Patrick Cathedral, Ireland’s largest church, it was founded beside a sacred well where St. Patrick is said to have baptized converts around 450 AD. The cathedral suffered over the centuries from desecration, fire and neglect. Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner with your travel companions. (WD)


Day 3. Thursday, June 9: Dublin

Enjoy a day at leisure in Dublin. You may want to visit the National Museum with its famous Cross of Cong, visit Dublinia and learn the history of Dublin, or visit Kilmainham Gaol, a prison related to the uprising of the Irish resistance. Optional guided visit to the home of Oscar Wilde. (IB)


Day 4. Friday, June 10: Dublin – Glendalough – Kilkenny

Glendalough harbors one of Ireland’s most atmospheric monastic sites. Established by St. Kevin in the VI century, it is a pilgrimage site par excellence. The earliest buildings associated with St. Kevin are by the Upper Lake, where the scenery is much more natural and visitors are able to enjoy the tranquility of the site. Continue to Kilkenny, Ireland’s loveliest inland city. Free time to visit Kilkenny’s Castle, St. Canice Cathedral, or one of the city’s famous pubs. Tonight, dinner is on your own. (IB)


Day 5. Saturday, June 11: Kilkenny – Rock of Cashel – Blarney – Killarney

According to tradition, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil’s Bit, a mountain 20 miles north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock’s landing in Cashel. Cashel is said to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century. The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. In 1101, the King of Munster donated his fortress on the Rock to the Church. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. Continue to Blarney Castle to kiss their famous stone for the gift of eloquence. If you prefer not to climb to the top of the fortress, you may visit the Woolen Mills, a gift store servicing tourist visiting the village. Continue to Killarney for dinner and overnight. (IB, D)


Day 6. Sunday, June 12: Killarney

Today, enjoy a tour of the Killarney Lakes. Famous for its splendid scenery, the area is one of the most attractive of Ireland. The three lakes are contained within Killarney National Park. The landscape is dotted with ruined castles and abbeys, the moody watery scenery is subject to subtle shifts of light and color. Return to Killarney for leisure time. Tonight dinner is on your own. (IB)

Day 7. Monday, June 13:
Killarney – Bunratty – Cliffs of Moher – Galway

Travel to Bunratty and visit its Castle built in the 15th century – one of Ireland’s major tourist attractions. Beautifully restored to its original state, the present interior looks much as it did in the 17th century. Next, visit Bunratty Folk Park, a meticulous re-creation of rural life in Ireland at the turn of the 19th century. It consists of a complete village, incorporating shops and a whole range of domestic architecture, from a laborer’s cottage to an elegant Georgian house. Continue to the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, rising to a height of 250 ft. out of the sea and extending for 5 miles. Dinner and overnight in Galway. (IB, D)


Day 8. Tuesday, June 14: Galway – Kylemore Abbey – Croagh Patrick – Knock

Sheltered by the slopes of the Twelve Bens, Kylemore Abbey is a romantic lakeside castle; a battlemented Gothic Revival fantasy, built in the 19th century. It became an abbey when Benedictine nuns, fleeing from Ypres in Belgium during World War I, sought refuge here. Visit the restored rooms of the Abbey and learn about its history and tales of tragedy and romance. Explore the Victorian Walled Garden with its magnificent restored buildings. Continue to Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain. In 441 AD, St. Patrick spent 40 days on the mountain fasting and praying for the Irish. Penitents make a pilgrimage barefoot to the summit for St. Patrick’s intercession. Travel to Knock, the Marian shrine of Ireland. In 1879, two local women saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist. It was witnessed by 13 more onlookers and validated by the Catholic Church amid claims of miraculous cures. (IB, D)


Day 9. Wednesday, June 15: Knock – Clonmacnoise – Dublin

Today on your way to Dublin, stop at Clonmacnoise, a medieval monastery founded by St. Ciaran in 545-548. Known for its scholarship and piety, it thrived from the 7th to the 12th century. Many kings of Tara and of Connaught were buried here. Plundered by the Vikings and Anglo-Normans, it fell to the English in 1552. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner with Irish music to celebrate the end of a beautiful and successful journey. (IB, FD)


Day 10. Thursday, June 16: Transatlantic flight

This morning, transfer to Dublin’s international airport to take your flight back to the US. (IB)


(IB) Irish breakfast; (WD) Welcome dinner; (D) Dinner; (FD) Farewell dinner



For more information on this trip, please contact Catholic Heritage Tours.

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