A 12-Day Pilgrimage to Ireland
April 18-29, 2016
with Fr. Stephen Arabadjis

Day 1. Monday, April 18: USA – Dublin

Embark on a transatlantic flight to Dublin, Ireland.


Day 2. Tuesday, April 19: Dublin

Upon arrival, meet your tour escort and board your private motor-coach for a panoramic view of the city. Visit Trinity College with The Book of Kells, written around 800 AD and celebrated for its lavish decoration. The manuscript contains the four Gospels in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin), in a bold and expert version of the script known as “insular majuscule.” Next, visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, believed to stand on the site where St. Patrick baptized his first Christian converts. Transfer to your hotel for a welcome dinner and overnight. (WD)


Day 3. Wednesday, April 20: Dublin

After breakfast, enjoy a free day in the city. You may visit the National Museum that contains the Cross of Cong and St. Patrick’s Bell. Also of interest is Kilmainham Gaol, one of the largest unoccupied prisons in Europe, covering some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland’s emergence as a modern nation from 1780s to the 1920s; or walk down O’Connell Street to experience the Irish culture. (B)


Day 4. Thursday, April 21: Dublin – Glendalough – Kilkenny

Visit Glendalough, Ireland’s most atmospheric monastic site. The monastery was founded by St. Kevin, a hermit monk who died about 618 AD. The extensive ruins of Glendalough include several early churches and various sites associated with the life of St. Kevin. Continue to Kilkenny, Ireland’s loveliest town, visit St. Canice’sCathedral and Round Tower, founded in the 6th century and named after St. Canice. Cill Channigh is the Gaelic for the Church of Canice, the church that originally stood on the site in the 6th century. The Round Tower is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny City and one of the only two Round Towers that one can climb in Ireland.  Next, visit Black Abbey, established in 1225. The name Black Abbey is based on the fact that in England and other countries the Dominicans were often referred to as “Black Friars” on account of the black cappa or cloak which they wear over their white habits.  Dinner and overnight in Kilkenny.  (B, D)


Day 5. Friday, April 22: Kilkenny – Cashel – Blarney – Killarney

Today visit the Rock of Cashel, whose museum houses the original St. Patrick’s Cross. This rock was a symbol of royal and priestly power for more than a millennium. Its roofless Gothic cathedral has thick walls full of hidden passages.  Cormac’s Chapel, consecrated in 1134 AD, is one of the earliest and best-preserved examples of early Irish Romanesque architecture. Then, visit Blarney Castle and Gardens, the home of the legendary Blarney Stone believed to confer a magical eloquence. Continue with a visit to Blarney Woolen Mills, full of Irish souvenirs. Travel to Killarney for dinner and overnight. (B, D)


Day 6. Saturday, April 23: Killarney: Excursion to the Ring of Kerry

Today embark on Ireland’s most popular scenic drive, the Ring of Kerry. This winding route reveals breathtaking sights of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks as well as coastal views of beaches and cliffs. As you travel along, there will be plenty of stops for photos at the best vantage points. Stop at Kells to meet a local farmer, Brendan Ferris, for a taste of farm life with a sheepdog demonstration of herding flocks and see different breeds of sheep. Drive through the village of Cahirciveen and cross to Valentia Island by bridge where you’ll visit the Skellig Experience to learn about the nearby rocky islands where early Christian monks lived in austere conditions. Sit down to a casual lunch in a cozy restaurant. Stop to walk around Sneem, where brightly-painted houses are grouped around a central green. Pause at Moll’s Gap for panoramic views of Ireland’s highest mountains and deep valleys. Return to Killarney and enjoy a free evening for independent dining or exploring the many pubs in the town. (B, L)


Day 7. Sunday, April 24: Killarney – Bunratty Castle/Village – Cliffs of Moher – Galway

Journey to Bunratty Castle and the Bunratty Folk Park Village.  The castle was built over the site of a Viking trading camp from 970 AD and is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland. Built in 1425, it was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendor and now contains mainly 15th and 16th-century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art which capture the mood of those times. Visit the Bunratty Folk Park, a meticulous recreation of rural like in Ireland at the beginning of 1900’s. Continue to see the magnificent views from the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher.  Finish the day in Galway for dinner and overnight. (B, D)


Day 8. Monday, April 25: Galway: Aran Islands

This morning, take an excursion to the Aran Islands of Inishmore. In the 5th century, St. Enda brought Christianity to these islands which are now a bastion of traditional Irish culture, famous for their distinctive knitwear and for the traditional Aran costume which is still worn. The currach, a low rowing boat, is still in use and has been their main form of transportation for centuries.  Return to Galway for a short walking tour before dinner. (B, D)


Day 9. Tuesday, April 26: Galway – Kylemore Abbey – Croagh Patrick – Knock

Visit Kylemore Abbey, a romantic lakeside castle; it became a Benedictine abbey during WWI. The nuns founded a world-renowned boarding school for girls and began restoring the Abbey, the Gothic Church and the Victorian Walled Garden to their former glory. Then visit Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holy mountain, where St. Patrick spent 40 days praying for the Irish people. Continue to Knock, the main Marian shrine of Ireland. Our Lady appeared with St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist in 1879 to fifteen villagers. Along with Lourdes, Our Lady of Knock shrine is one of the most important places of pilgrimage for the sick and handicapped.  Dinner and overnight in Knock. (B, D)


Day 10. Wednesday, April 27: Knock – Tobernalt – Lough Derg – Armagh

Visit Tobernalt, the place where priests celebrated Mass in secret during the penal times (18th and 19th centuries). Continue on to Lough Derg to visit St. Patrick’s Purgatory, the island where the saint spent 40 days praying to rid Ireland of all evil spirits. Afterwards, visit Armagh, the country’s center of Christianity. Visit the cathedrals dating from the Middle Ages belonging to the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland. Dinner and overnight in Armagh. (B, D)


Day 11. Thursday, April 28: Armagh – Downpatrick – Dundalk – Drogheda – Dublin

Today, head towards Downpatrick and visit sites related to the saint: Down Cathedral, his burial place; SlievePatrick, a giant statue of St. Patrick erected in 1932 to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of his landing in Ireland, and today a place of pilgrimage; and Saul, site of the first church in Ireland, where in 432 A.D., the local chieftain was converted by St. Patrick and gave him a barn for holding services. St. Patrick died in Saul on March 17, 461 and the modern “Saint Patrick’s Memorial Church” is built on the reputed spot of this building. Then visit Dundalk, an early Christian site in a beautiful and evocative setting considered the birthplace of St. Brigid in 453 AD. In Kilkurry Church nearby you can see a relic of St. Brigid, reported to be a small bit of her skull. Continue to Drogheda to see St. Peter’s Church, enshrining the skull of St. Oliver Plunkett, martyr of the English persecution; he died in 1681. Travel to Dublin for a farewell dinner at a restaurant with live Irish music. (B, FD)


Day 12. Friday, April 29: Return to the USA

After breakfast, transfer to Dublin’s airport for your flight back to the USA. (B)


Full Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D), Welcome Dinner (WD), Farewell Dinner (FD)



For more information on this pilgrimage, please contact Regina Pilgrimages.