Ireland: Land of Rainbows & Wedding Bells
Monday, April 11th
This evening we depart Newark Airport (EWR) on our over-night flight to Shannon Airport in western Ireland. We will be served complimentary beverages, in-flight movies, dinner, and breakfast.
Tuesday, April 12th
KNOCK—This morning we arrive at Shannon and board our motorcoach for a ride through County Clare. We stop at St. Patrick’s Monastery in Esker, a monastic site since the sixteenth century. After Mass at the Redemptorist Monastery, we leave County Galway and travel north to County Mayo to visit a major Marian Shrine in Knock. We gather briefly at our hotel before dinner for prayer and introductions of old and new friends. Overnight in Knock.
Wednesday, April 13th
CLONMACNOISE—After a hearty Irish breakfast, we depart Knock and travel through the rolling hills and rug-ged countryside of central Ireland to visit Clonmacnoise. This monastic settlement founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century became one of the great-est centers of medieval learning in Ireland. The buildings that exist today date to the 10th century and include two Round Tow-ers, two High Crosses and seven churches. Set on the Eastern bank of the River Shannon, it is the burial place of many high kings of Tara. In the afternoon, we arrive in Dublin where we celebrate Mass, and visit Baggot Street where Mother Catherine McAuley opened the first convent of mercy. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Dublin. Meet after dinner for reflection.
Thursday, April 14th
DUBLIN—After Mass, a local guide will show us the prominent sites of Dublin. We visit Oscar Wilde’s house and see his statue in Stephens Square. We walk through the cobbled stones of Trinity College to the magnificent Old Library building that houses the Book of Kells, a 9th-century illuminated manuscript of the Gospels. At Christchurch Cathedral, we can climb the Cathedral Belfry Tower for one of the most spectacular views of the city. We tour Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, famous for its connections to the brilliant and eccen-tric Dean Jonathan Swift. Tradition says that Ireland’s patron Saint Patrick baptized converts here on his visit to Dublin. After dinner we meet with members of the group Gay Catholic Voice Ireland.
Friday, April 15th
BELFAST—After breakfast we leave Dublin and travel North along the coast to Droghe-da through the towns of Dundalk and Newry and past the scenic Mourne Mountains in County Down to Belfast in Northern Ireland. After Mass, we have a sightseeing tour around the city, including the university area. In the city center we see the Albert Memorial, ornate Victorian buildings, and Donegall Square. We see the murals that tell the story of the most recent conflict in Irish history with the infamous Falls and Shankill Roads, Peace walls, barriers and gates, and memorial gardens. We visit Titanic Belfast through nine interactive galleries that take you back to the construction and launch, her famous maiden voyage, and tragic end. We return to Dublin for dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Saturday, April 16th
GLENDALOUGH & KILDARE—After Mass we leave Dublin to see the delightful scenery of the Wicklow Mountains on the way to Glendalough, St. Kevin’s 6th century monastic site. For thousands of years people have been drawn to ‘the valley of the two lakes’ for its spectacular scenery, rich history, archaeology and abundant wildlife. Glendalough will still your mind, inspire your heart, and fill your soul. We continue our journey into Kildare, the birthplace of St. Brigid, Ireland’s female patron saint who found-ed a unique double monastery – one part for nuns and one part for monks. We visit St. Brigid’s Cathedral. We return to Dublin where we will have some free time to relax or explore the city before dinner at the hotel. Meet after dinner for reflection.
Sunday, April 17th
NEWGRANGE, HILL OF TARA, & SLANE—Today we drive through the rolling hills of Meath to Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site. The archaeological landscape is dominated by large passage tombs, built around 3200 BCE in the Neolithic or Late Stone Age, making the tombs older than Stone-henge in England and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. We visit Newgrange, one of these tombs, whose passage has clear astro-nomical alignment with the Winter Solstice Sunrise. We stop to visit the Hill of Tara, the political and religious center of Celtic Ireland, and the Hill of Slane, where St. Patrick is said to have celebrated an Easter liturgy. This afternoon we celebrate Mass with the All Are Welcome group at the Carmelite Priory in Dublin. We gather after dinner at the hotel for some farewell remarks.
Monday, April 18th
USA—We leave Ireland with memories of rainbows and rejoicing for the lesbian and gay couples in Ireland who can now have their relationship legally recognized.