Irish Catholic Shrines & Christian Travel
Let Catholic Heritage Tours provide a custom itinerary for your pilgrim tour of Ireland. Catholic sites abound in this small island nation in Western Europe. See our sample itinerary below for details and inspiration…
Day 1: Transatlantic flight to Shannon
Travel across the Atlantic today on your way to Shannon, Ireland.
Day 2: Shannon – Tralee
Upon arrival at Shannon Airport, your tour escort will greet you and escort you to your private motor coach. Drive via the city of Limerick into the mountainous county of Kerry. Stop just outside of Tralee to visit Ardfert Cathedral, situated within a 12th C. complex of churches linked to St. Brendan, “the Navigator”. Continue west to the very tip of the peninsula to Gallarus Oratory, built in the 6th C. with un-mortared stone, still watertight after 14 centuries. Return to the town ofTralee to check into your hotel, then enjoy a welcome dinner with your fellow travelers. (WD)
Day 3: Ring of Kerry Tour, expedition from Tralee
Today, travel south to explore the Ring of Kerry, 100 miles of marvelous scenery consisting, on one side, of the highest peaks in Ireland, and on the other side of a coastline of scattered golden beaches and rocky headlands. Enjoy several stops in order to view the scenery and take photos. Travel through Glenbeigh and Cahirciveen, and on to Waterville and the colorful village of Sneem. Stop at Moll’s Gap for a view of the three lakes of Killarney with the mountains and the town in the background. Return to Tralee and enjoy the balance of the day at leisure to sightsee, shop, and dine on your own. (BB)
Day 4: Tralee – Blarney Castle and Rock of Cashel – Kilkenny
Depart Tralee early this morning to head to Blarney. Stop at the Castle to climb the traditional battlements and kiss the famous “Stone of Eloquence”. Take some time to explore the Blarney Woollen Mills, which carry an excellent selection of Irish-made goods. Continue the drive through Cork, past the gentle slopes of the Galtee Mountains, to the Rock of Cashel, a huge outcrop with many fascinating ecclesiastical ruins, some dating from the 12th and 13th C. Head east to Kilkenny, renowned for its massive castle and Rothe House, a medieval merchant’s house. After checking in at your hotel, enjoy free time to explore some of the city before dinner and overnight. (BB, D)
Day 5: Kilkenny – Glendalough – Dunboyne
This morning’s first visit is the Black Abbey, founded in 1225, making it one of the oldest churches in Ireland still standing. See the impressive Rosary Window representing the Fifteen Mysteries of the Holy Rosary and the alabaster carving of the Holy Trinity dating from 1264. Next visit St. Candies Cathedral which was built in the Norman style with the local black limestone for which Kilkenny gets its nickname “the Marble City.” After your visit drive through the delightful scenery of the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough. Start your tour in the Glendalough Visitor Centre where an audio-visual presentation will offer an insight into the development and way of life in this early Christian settlement, founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Then take a walk around the site which is located between two peaceful lakes in a deep valley. Here you will see a well-preserved round tower and the ruins of some of the many churches. Drive north into Dunboyne. After checking into your hotel, the afternoon is free, with dinner on your own. (BB)
Day 6: Dunboyne: Excursion to Dublin
Today head to Dublin and set off with a local guide who will show you around the prominent historic buildings and monuments of Dublin. Dublin is an ancient settlement, founded by the Vikings in the 9th century. The city has been molded through the centuries with many architectural styles, reflecting the economic, political, and artistic influences. Tour St. Patrick’s Cathedral, almost as old as the city itself and famous for its connections with the brilliantly eccentric Dean Jonathan Swift. Next, visit Christ Church Cathedral which is Dublin’s oldest building, founded in 1038 by King Sitric, later rebuilt in 1169 by Strongbow, and restored in Gothic style in 1871. The crypt dates from 1172 and both cathedral and crypt contain remarkable monuments and sculptures. Also visit, Trinity College and view the 8th century Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the gospels. Spend some free time in Dublin before returning to your hotel in Dunboyne. This evening, drive to Howth, a suburb on the north side of the city, and admire great views of Dublin Bay along the way. Head to the Abbey Tavern, built on the site of an old abbey, and which has been in business for over 200 years. There, enjoy dinner and a traditional ballad session. (BB, D)
Day 7: Dublin at leisure
Return to Dublin after breakfast today and enjoy the day at leisure. Choose from a wide variety of pursuits: There are plenty of museums of Irish interest such as theNationalMuseum, the National Gallery or theWritersMuseum, and there are also plenty of shops alongNassau Street and the pedestrianizedGrafton Street orHenry Street, or you may want to explore Temple Bar or visit some of the traditional pubs. Meet you driver at a pre-arranged spot and transfer back to the hotel in the evening after an independent dinner. (BB)
Day 8: Dunboyne – Clonmacnoise – Knock
Leave Dunboyne and journey across the rolling pastures of Ireland’s heartland to visit Clonmacnoise. This monastic settlement was founded in 545 AD by St. Ciaran and is delightfully set on the banks of the River Shannon. Continue north through Athlone and the fertile midland region, dotted with farms and marketing towns, where you can see how many Irish people still make a living from farming. Upon arrival in Knock, visit the Shrine which is one of the world’s leading places of pilgrimage, and where the Virgin Mary appeared to 15 people on August 21, 1879. You will have an opportunity to see the gable of the church where the apparition occurred. Check into your hotel to relax and freshen up before dinner in the hotel restaurant. (BB, D)
Day 9: Knock – Croagh Patrick – Kylemore Abbey – Limerick
After breakfast, depart Knock and travel west to the pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick, named after Ireland’s patron saint who was reputed to have prayed for 40 days on the summit. Continue via Westport to Kylemore Abbey and visit this 19th century neo-Gothic mansion built in a charming setting, which is now a girls’ school. The grounds and chapel are open to the public. After your visit, travel through sweeping views of open countryside along Connemara and Maam Valley south via Galway city. Pass through the towns of Gort and Ennis to Limerick and check into your hotel. After settling into your room you are free to rest or stretch your legs and explore the city. Dinner this evening is on your own. (BB)
Day 10: Limerick: Excursion to the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Folk Park.
After breakfast this morning drive to the coast of Clareto view the Cliffs of Moher. This impressive wall of rock rises to almost 700 feet above the foaming Atlantic breakers. Travel a short distance to the village of Bunratty and visit the Bunratty Folk Park which comprises a collection of farmhouses from different regions of Ireland and a 19th century village street with its pub, school, general store and many other buildings where traditional lifestyles and crafts are demonstrated. Return to Limerick and enjoy the balance of the day and evening free to shop, browse, or sightsee. In the evening return to Limerick for a farewell dinner to toast a wonderful trip with your fellow passengers. (BB, FD)
Day 11: Return flight to the U.S.
After a buffet breakfast, transfer to Shannon Airport for your flight back to the U.S. (BB)
* (BB) Buffet Breakfast * (D) Dinner * (WD) Welcome Dinner * (FD) Farewell Dinner
Ready to plan your group pilgrimage tour to Ireland? Catholic Heritage Tours offers you a customized religious travel experience that takes care of all of the details for you, so you can enjoy your tour. Contact us today!