DAY 1 – SHANNON – GALWAY: Cead Mile Failte – 100,000 welcomes to Ireland! When you arrive at Shannon airport in the early morning, you will be met by your driver/guide in the arrivals hall and escorted to your awaiting deluxe motorcoach.
Your travels will bring you northwesterly where you will stop for a refreshing morning tea/coffee and homebaked scones.
Afterwards visit the Dysert O’Dea Castle. Built in 1480 by Diarmuid O’Dea, Lord of Cineal Fearmaic, the castle today houses an extensive museum, an audiovisual presentation on the history of this unique area, and various exhibitions. Dysert O’Dea Church stands on the site of an early Christian monastery founded by St. Tola. The present building dates mainly from the 12th century. Its most famous feature is the beautifully sculptured Romanesque Doorway, with its carved geometric motifs and foliage, surrounded by an arch of twelve human and seven animal heads. Near the church’s north western corner stands the remains of a Round Tower. The High Cross sometimes called St. Tola’s Cross, is situated east of the church. Dating from the 12th century, this cross is one of the finest examples of its kind in Ireland. .
Visit St Brigids Well in Liscannor, an area of great scenic beauty. Behind the well on a higher level is an ancient cemetery in which the Uí Bhrian, the Kings of Dál gCais, are buried. There is a large cross here and a circular path around it and part of the Rite of the Holy Well is performed in this area known as upper sanctuary. The Well itself is in the lower sanctuary, enclosed in a little house full of votive offerings such as holy pictures, rosaries, medals and so forth left by pilgrims. Small items which people carry around with them, such as pens, biros and combs, are commonly found also as offerings at wells.
Continue the tour towards the Cliffs of Moher – The Cliffs rise up to 214 (700 feet) at the highest point and range for 8km over the Atlantic Ocean on the Western seaboard of Co. Clare. The Cliffs is a Special Protected Area under the EU birds Directive 1979 and is home to Ireland’s largest mainland seabird nesting colony. The historic O’Brien’s Tower (1825) stands near the highest point of the Cliffs of Moher and boasts views of 5 counties on a clear day. Opened in 2007, the eco-friendly visitor centre operates using environmental best practices with a state of the art Cliffs exhibition – The Atlantic Edge.
Continue to Galway City where you will overnight with dinner.
Visit Kylemore Abbey, which is the only home of the Benedictine nuns in Ireland. The nuns acquired the Abbey in 1920. Set in the heart of Connemara, this unique Abbey offers the warmth and hospitality of it’s peaceful environs. It’s enchanting history is interpreted in detail in rooms at the Abbey. The Abbey was originally built as a castle by Mitchell Henry as a gift for his wife, in 1868. The Gothic Church, set in the grounds of the Abbey, is the jewel in the crown of Kylemore. It has been lovingly restored and any visit would not be complete without seeing it. Here you will celebrate Mass in the Gothic Cathedral.
Return to Galway for dinner & overnight.
Today, Ballintubber is recognised as the country’s only royal abbey that has been in continuous use for nearly eight centuries. Located on limestone lands near Lough Carra, south of Castlebar, Ballintubber is now part of Tóchar Phádraig. This is a 35km pilgrimage road that stretches to Croagh Patrick. It is also a parish church where mass is celebrated daily
Continue to Knock. The story of the apparition at Knock dates back to August 21st, 1879. The village of Knock itself was typical of all congested rural areas in Ireland at that time. The population was entirely Catholic. Though they were poor in material wealth, their Faith was to them a pearl of great price. August 21st-the day before the Octave of the Assumption-1879 was destined to transform this unknown, uninspiring village of Knock and raise it before the eyes of the Catholic world. The Pope himself by his words and deeds made it clear that Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock was recognized by the Church to be one of the major Marian Shrines in the world.
Spend the evening in prayer and reflection at the Holy Shrine and you will also have an opportunity to visit Knock Museum. Knock Folk Museum portrays aspects of rural life in Ireland at the end of the 19th Century
and early 20th Century. With over 2,000 exhibits on display, Knock Folk Museum attempts to delve deeper into
the past so that visitors will gain a sense of historical place
Dinner and overnight in Knock
Continue the journey eastwards towards the spiritual centre of Ireland – Armagh. In Armagh visit the Saint Patrick Trian Visitor Centre – This visitor complex in the heart of Armagh City; it incorporates 3 exhibitions The Armagh Story, Patrick’s Testament and The Land of Lilliput. The Armagh Story which details Armagh’s historic Pagan monuments through to the coming of St Patrick. While Patrick’s Testament exhibition takes a more in depth look at St Patrick through ‘The Book of Armagh’. The third exhibition is The Land of Lilliput which is inspired by Jonathan Swift’s book Gulliver’s Travels.
Dinner & overnight in Armagh.
Visit the Saint Patrick centre at Downpatrick. The exhibition ‘Ego Patricius’ – The Story of Saint Patrick explores the legacy of Patrick, ancient and modern, and recalls the saint’s own story – in his own words. A series of interactive displays allow visitors to explore how Patrick’s legacy developed in early Christian times and reveals the fabulous artwork and metalwork which was produced during this Golden Age. The exhibition also examines the major impact of Irish missionaries in Europe between the fifth and ninth centuries, a legacy which remains to this day.
Return to Armagh to visit the twin cathedrals: the seats of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Ireland. Dinner and overnight in Armagh.
Continue to Drogheda where you will celebrate Mass in St Peters Church in Drogheda where the head of St Oliver Plunkett can be seen
Visit Mellifont Abbey, the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland founded in 1142 by St Malachy of Armagh, its most unusual feature is the octagonal Lavabo c. 1200. The Visitor Centre houses an interesting exhibition on the work of masons in the Middle Ages with fine examples of their craft on display. Access to the site is by a stone stairway.
Your final destination today is Irelands Capital city of Dublin where you will overnight with dinner.
On your city tour you will experience all the wonderful sights and landmarks of this ancient city. The tour includes some of Dublin’s most renowned sites, such as St Patrick’s Cathedral, Christchurch Cathedral and the Book of Kells. Pass by Christchurch Cathedral, one of the finest cathedrals in Ireland. Originally built by Cromwell in the 11th century. It has been reconstructed many times over the centuries and the building that remains today is truly magnificent
Visit St Patrick’s Cathedral, the national cathedral of Ireland and it is also the largest cathedral in the country. Traditionally the place where the cathedral lies today was the place where St. Patrick baptized the pagans to Christianity in the 5th century and there has been a church there since. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Cromwellian invasion in Ireland and it was eventually completely re-furbished by the Guinness family in the 19th century. Jonathan Swift, author of Gullivers’ Travellers was dean of the cathedral for 32 years and his remains are buried within the cathedral.
Walk through the grounds of Trinity College, a residential college in the heart of the city. Here you will visit the Colonnades, which houses the college’s greatest treasures, of which the most famous is the Book Of Kells. The book is a magnificently illustrated, in Celtic design, version of the Gospels designed by unknown hands in the monastery of Kells in Meath about 800. It was presented to Trinity College in the mid-17th Century in order to save it from Cromwell’s army.
You will also see the Georgian Squares, O’Connell Street, the Greens and the Phoenix Park which is the largest urban parkland area in Europe. The president of Ireland resides here.
Enjoy your evening at your own leisure for further sightseeing or to catch up on any last minute shopping.
Tonight you will experience an “Irish Night” in a local venue, where you will be entertained after your 3 course dinner with Irish Music, singing and dancing. Overnight in Dublin
Slan Abhaile (Safe Home)
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