Day 1 Arrival to Dublin Airport followed by Dublin City tour, as well as visit to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Book of Kells
Following early morning arrival at Dublin Airport, you will be met by your driver/guide and escorted to your awaiting motor coach. On leaving the airport you will be taken on a tour of Dublin, Ireland’s capital city on the banks of the River Liffey. You will see The Georgian Squares, with their 18th century houses, The Phoenix Park (the biggest town park in Europe), the statue filled O’Connell Street and the fashionable Grafton Street. You will also visit Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which stands adjacent to the famous well where Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. The present building dates from 1220 and is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland. Your next stop is Trinity College. Here you will visit the Old Library to view a 9th century Latin manuscript of the four Gospels written on vellum, (prepared calfskin), known as the Book of Kells. This afternoon you will check into your hotel for a well earned rest.
Day 2 Tour through the Boyne Valley with visits to Monasterboice, Mellifont Abbey, Newgrange and Saint Peter’s Church Drogheda
This morning your tour takes you to the Boyne Valley, one of the most historic areas of Ireland. Your first visit this morning will be to Monasterboice. The monastery was founded here by Saint Buite in the 5th century and contains two of the finest High Crosses in Ireland, both of which date back to around the 9th century. Your next stop is Mellifont Abbey founded in 1142. Mellifont Abbey was the first Cistercian house in Ireland. From here, you will continue to Newgrange, a passage tomb dating back to about 3,200 B.C making it older than the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Newgrange is also a recognized place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance. Drogheda will be your next stop where you will have some free time for lunch, and also an opportunity to visit St Peter’s Church, which preserves the relics of Blessed Oliver Plunkett. From here, you return to Dublin.
Day 3 Depart Dublin and travel to Glendalough and Hollywood, en route to Kilkenny City and the Cathedral of Saint Canice
This morning you depart Dublin and travel south to County Wicklow, also known as “The Garden of Ireland.” Your first stop is Glendalough, (Valley of Two Lakes), where you go back in time to the 7th century with a guided tour of this remarkable early monastic settlement. From here, you continue over the Wicklow Gap to Hollywood and from here to Kilkenny City on the banks of the River Nore. This afternoon you will visit the cathedral of Saint Canice. The 13th century cathedral is the second longest cathedral in Ireland and has been a site of Christian worship since the 6th century.
Day 4 Visit to Holycross Abbey, followed by trip to the Rock of Cashel, followed by drive through the Golden Vale en route to Killarney
This morning you will take a short boat trip on the picturesque Lakes of Killarney from Ross Castle to the Island of Innisfallen. Here you will see the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey, founded around the year 600 by Saint Faithleann, (fallen), the leper. The abbey is famous for The Annals of Innisfallen, a chronicle of world and Irish history in Irish and Latin compiled on the island, and now housed in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The island became a great centre of learning and in the 10th century King Brain Boru was educated here. On returning to the mainland you will travel on a traditional Irish jaunting car through the Killarney National Park to Saint Mary’s Cathedral. Construction of the cathedral began in 1842 but was suspended for 5 years during the Great Famine when the partially roofed section was used as a place of shelter. A single tree on the grounds of the Cathedral marks a famine grave. The remainder of the afternoon is free to browse some of the many shops, pubs and restaurants in the picturesque town of Killarney.
Day 5 Day tour of Dingle Peninsula, where you travel back in time as you see early monastic settlements
Today you will enjoy the unspoiled beauty of The Dingle Peninsula. You will travel back in time as you see some beehive huts (early monastic settlements) dating back over a thousand years. Your tour will take you to the most westerly point of Ireland where you can view the Blasket Islands. You will also see the locations for such films as “Ryan’s Daughter,” and the more recently filmed, “Far and Away” which starred Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman before returning to Dingle. Following the tour of the peninsula, you will continue on to Killarney, where you will have a guided tour of Muckross House, built in 1843 and which is now a folk museum. This evening you will have dinner in your hotel.
Day 6 Day tour of Dingle Peninsula, where you travel back in time as you see early monastic settlements and some historic churches
Today you will enjoy the unspoiled beauty of The Dingle Peninsula, once cited as, “the most beautiful place on earth,” by National Geographic. You will travel back in time as you see some beehive huts (early monastic settlements) dating back over a thousand years and the 8th century Gallarus Oratory. Your tour will take you to the most westerly point of Ireland where you can view the Blasket Islands. You will visit the ruined church at Kilmalkeadar, with many monuments dating back to both early Christian and medieval times, including and ogham stone, alphabet stone, stone cross and a beautiful sundial. The Romanesque church is the focal feature of the complex, with one of the finest doorways in that style in Ireland. During your tour you will see the locations for such films as “Ryan’s Daughter,” and the more recently filmed, “Far and Away” which starred Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. In the afternoon you will have some free time in Dingle town before continuing to Tarbert, where you will take a short ferry crossing across the Shannon Estuary to Killimer, and from here you will continue to Ennis.
Day 7 Travel north by the Cliffs of Moher and through the lunar landscape of the Burren to visit ruins of Kilfenora Cathedral and High Crosses, before continuing to Galway City
This morning you travel to Lahinch and continue along the coast road to Saint Brigid’s holy well. From here you take the coast road to the majestic Cliffs of Moher, which rise to a height of 600 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Your tour continues through the lunar type landscape of the Burren region. This unique part of Ireland is made up of 100 square mile of limestone rock. Here you will visit the ruins of Kilfenora Cathedral and High Crosses. The Cathedral in Kilfenora was built in the 12th century and dedicated to Saint Fachtna, who founded his monastery here during the 6th century. Your next visit is the Poulnabrone Dolmen. A dolmen is a megalithic tomb formed by three or more upright stones covered by a cap stone. The Poulnabrone Dolmen dates back to 2500BC. It was excavated in1968 and found to contain the remains of between 16 and 22 adults and 6 juveniles including a newborn baby. From here you will continue along shores of Galway Bay before arriving in the city of Galway.
Day 8 Tour through the mountains, lakelands, and boglands of Connemara, before visiting Doolough and Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick
This morning before departing Galway you will visit Galway Cathedral, built between 1958 and 1965. Your tour continues to Connemara which is made up of mountains, lakelands and boglands. Because of its wild and rugged beauty Connemara has been the location for many films including, “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne and Maureen O’ Hara, and in more recent times “The Field,” starring Richard Harris to name but two. You continue to Doolough and travel a stretch of road known as, the Famine Walk. Hundreds of people take part in the walk every year during the month of May following in the footsteps of the many people who left their home in search of food during the Great Famine. You travel by the foothills of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain. All through the year people come to climb Croagh Patrick also known as the Reek. On Reek Sunday, the last Sunday in July, over 25,000 pilgrims climb the Reek, some barefoot as an act of penance.
Day 9 Day 9 Visit to Ballintubber Abbey en route to Knock and the Marian Shrine, before continuing to Bunratty
This morning you will visit Ballintubber Abbey, known as the Abbey that refused to die. The Abbey was founded in 1216 and mass has been celebrated in the abbey without a break ever since. For 236 years people attended Mass in the unroofed abbey exposed to the cold, wind and the rain. From here, you travel to Knock. On the 21st August 1879 Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist appeared to 15 people ranging in age from 12 to 75. Knock is now an internationally recognized Marian Shrine. Pope John Paul II visited in 1979, commemorating the centenary of the apparition, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited the Shrine in June of 1993. One and a half million pilgrims visit the Shrine annually. From Knock, you continue to Bunratty.
Day 10 Departure from Shannon Airport
Today you sadly bid farewell to the Emerald Isle. You travel to Shannon Airport (approximately 20 mins). Here you will have ample time for duty free shopping before you board your flight home.
“May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door”