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Irish Blessings
"You've blessed me with friends and laughter and fun
With rain that's as soft as the light from the sun -
You've blessed me with the stars to brighten each night
You've give me help to know wrong from right
You've given me so much please, Lord give me too
A heart that is always grateful to you."

The beauty of Ireland awaits you, from double rainbows to leprechauns,
from pubs to scones, from shamrocks to St. Patrick and many more!

"May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light.
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live."
Dublin, Killarney, Bunratty, Knock and Armagh
10 Days - Ireland
Day 1: Depart USA on our transatlantic flight to Dublin. Meals will be served on the flight.
Day 2: Upon arrival in Ireland, our Tour Director welcomes us to Dublin. Passing through the city's main thoroughfares of OíConnell, Grafton and Nassau Streets and the nearby shopping streets, our city tour begins. Founded by the Vikings in the 9th century, Dublin has been molded through the centuries with many architectural styles, reflecting many economic, political and artistic influences. In the afternoon, we gather together to celebrate our first Mass at the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, which houses the 15th century black oak statue of Our Lady of Dublin and the relics of St. Valentine. An opportunity to attend the original "RIVERDANCE", the internationally-acclaimed celebration of Irish music, song and dance can be arranged ahead of time. Dinner and overnight in Dublin.
Day 3: We drive south across the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough to see the 6th century ruins of St. Kevinís monastic settlement. Then we travel through the prosperous farm country passing by the Rock of Cashel, for a photo-stop, then time permitting to Tipperary to visit the Holy Cross Abbey, where one of the first relics of the True Cross was presented in the 12th Century. We continue to Waterford, founded in 914 AD by the Vikings; it is Irelandís oldest city and is famous for fine crystal produced there. We travel south through pleasant hills to Blarney. We will celebrate Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, then walk through the grounds of the Blarney Castle. Climb the steps of the castle's battlements to the famous magical stone that bestows the gift of eloquence upon those brave enough to kiss it. Dinner and overnight in Killarney.
Day 4: Enjoy the scenery of the Iveragh Peninsula, better known as "The Ring of Kerry", where mountains, valleys, lakes and sea blend into a breathtaking landscape. Take a moment to shop for some woolen souvenirs at the Blarney Woolen Mills. In the afternoon, we travel through the pleasant hilly country of County Cork. This is prime dairy country where much of Irelandís cheese is produced. Pass through the town of Adare, renowned for its main street lined with thatched cottages and colorful gardens. We continue our journey driving through the outskirts of Limerick through Shannonside and out to the coast of Clare to see the Cliffs of Moher. View the majestic cliffs, which rise 700 feet above the pounding Atlantic waves and extend five miles along the coast. If youíre lucky, maybe youíll see double rainbows...and perhaps a pot of gold! Proceed to Bunratty Folk Park, which comprises a collection of farmhouses from different regions of Ireland and a 19th century village street with a pub, school, general store and many other buildings where traditional lifestyles and crafts are demonstrated. This evening join in the fun and feasting; a medieval-style banquet is served in the Great Hall of the 15th century castle during while the lords and ladies of the castle transport you in spirit to the Middle Ages with their songs and stories, pending availability. Dinner and overnight in Bunratty.
Day 5: Today we tour Connemara and admire the sweeping views of boglands and misty mountains. While driving along, we will see many sheep grazing freely and tracts of bogland, where peat is still hand-cut for home heating. Our Mass will be celebrated at the Kylemore Abbey and Gardens, built in 1868 overlooking Kylemore Lake, reflecting the grandeur and fantasy of the brash Balmoral-Gothic style of architecture. Today, it is a convent school for girls run by Benedictine nuns. Then we continue on to Our Ladyís Shrine in the village of Knock, known as the "Lourdes of Ireland". It was in 1879, that the parish church of Knock was the scene of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John, the Evangelist. There were 15 official witnesses of varying ages who witnessed the apparition for more than 2 hours in the pouring rain; they described very vividly what they saw on the external gable of the Parish Church, in which Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, wore a white cloak, with a brilliant crown of roses on her head. In September, 1979, Pope John Paul II, made a pilgrimage to Knock Shrine, followed with a visit by Mother Teresa of Calcutta in June, 1993. Dinner and overnight in Knock.
Day 6: We drive today and celebrate Mass at Ballintubber Abbey, founded in 1216 AD near the site of the Church built by St. Patrick in 441. This magnificent abbey has been in continuous use for almost eight centuries and has been restored to emphasize its simple shape and plain construction. We continue on to the town of Westport to the foot of Croagh Patrick, the 2,500 foot conical tipped mountain once sacred to the pagan god Crom. St. Patrick spent 40 days of praying and fasting here in 441 AD and won the mountain for the conversion of the Irish people to Christianity. All through the year, people climb "The Reek", as it is known locally, some for pious reasons, others for the stupendous panoramic view. Then we return to Knock to pray the Stations of the Cross, and join the Rosary Procession, if available, and the Anointing of the Sick at the Basilica. Dinner and overnight in Knock.
Day 7: After breakfast, enjoy a day excursion through Sligo, the county of William Butler Yeats, and along Donegal Bay to Lough Derg for Mass. We will spend the day outside the island of St. Patrickís Purgatory, a special place of peace and personal challenge which has been receiving pilgrims continuously for well over 1,000 years, enabling people to maintain contact with the sacred site and visitors are not required to fast or walk barefooted. Legend has it that St. Patrick had a vision of the afterlife having spent days in a cave on an Island in Lough Derg. Another legend has it that when St. Patrick was banishing snakes from Croagh Patrick, one of them escaped and made its way into Lough Derg. This particular snake represented the sin of pride, which according to scripture could only be cast out by prayer and fasting. Dinner and overnight in Knock.
Day 8: This morning finds us heading east to St. Malachyís hometown, Armagh, where we will celebrate Mass at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Patrick. Perched high above the city, this Byzantine-style building with two loft spirals and a carillon of 39 bells is in complete architectural contrast to the "original" cathedral; the pale blue ceiling and walls are painted and etched with the image of every Irish saint and a multitude of angels. Dinner and overnight in Armagh.
Day 9: Today, we continue our journey to the Hill of Slane, site of a 6th century monastery and church, where St. Patrick built the first Pascal Fire for Christianity in 433 AD. These buildings and those that succeeded them were ravaged, in turn, by the Vikings, Normans, and Cromwellís troops. Todayís ruins are those of a 16th century priestly college and a church, which were abandoned in 1723. We drive to Drogheda to celebrate Mass at St. Peterís Catholic Church where the body of St. Oliver Plunkett lies in repose. He was the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. Time permitting, we will also visit Monasterboice to see its 6th century monastic ruins. This site is best known for its elaborate Celtic high crosses carved with biblical images at the height of the early Christian period when monasteries flourished throughout Ireland. Dinner and overnight in Dublin.
Day 10: We bid farewell to Ireland as we depart for the airport for our flight back home or continue on to Scotland.
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