Fr. Higgins Tour of Ireland &
World Meeting of Families 2018
Mon Aug 20th Heading for the Emerald Isle
Today we start our journey by flying across the United States and taking an overnight flight across the Atlantic Sea to Ireland.
Tue Aug 21st Welcome to Ireland
This morning we will land in Dublin Airport and once you have proceeded through to the arrivals area, you will be met and transfered to your first destination of Co. Cavan, knows as a the ‘Lake Country’ as supposedly there is a lake for every day of the year (including leap years).
We travel to Co. Cavan for a luxurious stay in Cabra Castle, the magnificent 19th century 4 star castle which is set on 100 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and parkland. Enjoy your surroundings before meeting later to share a welcome dinner together and toasting to the start of this exciting tour. Dinner & Overnight: Cabra Castle, Co. Cavan
Wed Aug 22nd Reflection at Knock Shrine
This morning, finish your breakfast as we depart Co. Cavan for new adventures among the wild beauty of Co. Mayo. The first stop of today will be to visit the Knock Shrine, which received international fame after local people reported seeing the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist at their parish church on August 21, 1879. We will hear the remarkable story of Knock which is told here in great detail, as well as the stories of all of the ordinary people who witnessed the Apparition in 1879. We will attend mass and tour of grounds before enjoying time to prayerfully roam the ground at this beautiful pilgrimage site and National Shrine.
Next, we will visit Ballintubber Abbey, which has a dual role as a national monument and a rural parish church which has become again a Christian Centre for prayer and retreats. The story of Ballintubber Abbey began when, in 441, St Patrick baptized the people at the Druidic Well and established a church here. There are still remains of that early church in the graveyard and the Irish name, Baile Tobair Phádraig, means the townland of St Patrick’s Well. The Well is still flowing. The Abbey itself and the beautifully landscaped grounds and its faith filled – stories provide rich symbols and resources of Christian Heritage.
Following this, we will reach Westport, the charming Georgian town with tree-lined streets, a riverside mall and a great vibe, to check into our hotel. With an excellent choice of local crafts and traditional stores, fine restaurants and pubs renowned for their music, it’s the perfect place to spend free time for lunch and explore on your own. Meet later this evening for dinner at the hotel and to spend the evening together. Dinner & Overnight: The Castlecourt Hotel Westport
Thu Aug 23rd The Wildest West
Once you have had your breakfast, get set to depart Mayo to pursue new memories in Co. Galway. Enjoy the ride before reaching a unique part of Ireland, Connemara, a wild region of bog land, pristine lakes and mountains which is sparsely populated and the landscape is much more open. Because the area is so remote, the Irish language and traditions have survived here and Irish is the first tongue of many of the inhabitants.
On our tour today, we will visit Kylemore Abbey, a former girl’s boarding school that is now in the care of the Benedictine nuns and is one of the oldest Abbeys in Ireland. Its Gothic Church built in 1881 is beautiful and interesting with its Crypt and carved angelic gargoyles. The dramatic landscape and iconic image of a gothic castle reflected in a Connemara Lake has made Kylemore Abbey world-famous and it is now the largest tourist attraction in the west of Ireland.
We will then board our boat to tour Connemara by the water. This cruise, which includes lunch, is the best way to see Killary Harbor, Irelands only Fjord. The view of Killary from the shore is certainly a spectacular one, but taking to the water here gives you a whole new perspective. Take in the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape including south facing Twelve Bens and the Maam Turk Mountains in Co. Galway, north facing Mweelrea Mountains and full circle views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Afterwards, we will reach eccentric Co. Galway, known as ‘The City of Tribes’ after the 14 family tribes that founded it. We will check into the hotel to share dinner together after a busy day where you may conclude and agree with Oscar Wilde when he said, ‘Connemara is a savage beauty’. Dinner & Overnight: The Park House Hotel Galway
Fri Aug 24th The Mighty Cliffs
Fill up on your Irish Breakfast and get ready to explore more of the iconic West of Ireland. This morning we will visit the mighty Cliffs of Moher which stand over 700 feet high at its highest point and range for over 5 miles over the Atlantic Ocean. Spectacular views are in abundance at this iconic attraction, on a clear day you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South.
We will then return to Galway this afternoon to enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour of this lively city. Now you have your bearings, enjoy the remainder of your day in Galway, complete with its narrow streets alive with activity and Irish culture and amazing landscapes and seascapes, as you please. Later you are free to enjoy dinner in one of the local restaurants in Galway. Overnight: The Park House Hotel Galway
Sat Aug 25th Next Stop…The Capital
This morning, finish your breakfast as we prepare to leave Galway for Ireland’s capital and host city of the World Meeting of Families 2018, Dublin City. On route, we will visit Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic site and a top visitor attraction in Ireland. A walk amongst the peaceful stone ruins of this famous place will conjure images of the saints and scholars of Ireland’s renowned Golden Age of learning. Founded by St Ciaran in the mid-6th century, it became a great centre of religion and learning, visited by scholars from all over the world. Dig deep into the fascinating history of Clonmacnoise and visit the on-site interpretive visitor centre, which displays a number of cross slabs and the 9th century Cross of the Scriptures.
Our last stop before reaching Dublin, will be to visit Kilbeggan Distillery, the oldest distillery in Ireland, dating back to 1757. A trip to this famous attraction will enable you to discover the history of authentic artisan Irish whiskey, as well as sampling a little of it for yourself. Afterwards, you will reach Dublin for check-in and to enjoy your night in this iconic city. We will enjoy free time in the city before meeting to enjoy dinner together this evening. Dinner & Overnight: The Johnstown Estate
Sun Aug 26th Pope Francis Visits Ireland
Pope Francis visits Dublin today to host the World Meeting of Families in what will be the first papal tour of Ireland since John Paul II’s historic trip in 1979. Nearly three million people turned out in 1979, phenomenal numbers when you consider that the population of Ireland was 3,368,217 in 1979.
The World Meeting of Families 2018 will see families from around the world gather in Dublin to pray, learn, and celebrate the gift of the family. Enjoy this very special day of memorable experiences, people and prayer in Ireland. Later, we will return to the hotel to share dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening as you wish. Dinner & Overnight: The Johnstown Estate
Mon Aug 27th Day Tripping to Co. Wicklow
After a leisurely breakfast this morning, we will set out for sightseeing. Our tour today takes us out of the city and into neighboring Co. Wicklow, known as ‘The Garden of Ireland’. This morning’s visit will takes us to one of Ireland’s most famous attractions, Glendalough Monastic Site, a fascinating early Christian settlement positioned in a glaciated valley with two lakes and founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century.
Next, we will visit The Mill at Avoca Village which is a large Avoca store and cafe, and a working hand weaving mill. We will see the whole weaving processing at the mill which produces many of the throws, rugs and scarves you’ll find in the stores. Enjoy your surroundings before returning to Dublin to relax, share dinner together and enjoy the remainder of the evening as you wish. Dinner & Overnight: The Johnstown Estate
Tue Aug 28th Relax and Recovery in Dublin
Refuel on your breakfast this morning as we set out for sightseeing in Dublin City. We will take a panoramic tour of Dublin to see local landmarks such as the historic GPO (General Post Office) on O’ Connell Street, the vast Georgian Squares such as Merrion Square where Oscar Wilde’s house can still be found (today owned by the American College) as well as Phoenix Park, the largest public park in Europe and home to Aras an Uachtarain (the Irish President’s Residence) and the American Ambassador’s Residence. We will stop and enjoy a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s. The cathedral was founded in 1191 and stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin.
After that introduction to Dublin, use the remainder of your evening exploring the city in your own way. Consider visiting the historic Book of Kells at Trinity College or Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin’s oldest building and home to a famous 12th Century crypt, one of the oldest in Ireland and Britain. With St. Ann’s Church, built in 1707 and complete with a memorial dedicated to those lost in World War I and II and St. Audoen’s Church, the capital’s only remaining medieval parish church, all centrally located – enjoy exploring the famous city of Dublin on your own for the rest of the day! Later, meet up for a farewell dinner in true Irish style. We will enjoy dinner and an evening of Irish Entertainment, the perfect way to celebrate a successful trip full of cherished memories and new friendships – enjoy! Dinner & Overnight: The Johnstown Estate
Wed Aug 29th Homeward Bound
Pack your bags as we head for Dublin Airport where you will board your flight for home. Carry on your photos and memories and bring a bit of the Emerald Isle home with you. ‘The Land of One Hundred Thousand Welcomes’ will be expecting you again soon.