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Your Adventure, Day by Day

Day 1 Departure from North America
  • Flight to Ireland Enjoy full meal service on your scheduled wide-bodied flight to Ireland.
Day 2 Arrive Dublin – Mellifont Abbey – Monasterboice – Dundalk Area
  • Mellifont Abbey We will be met at the airport by our WorldStrides Tour Director, board our own private coach, and transfer to Mellifont Abbey, the first Cistercian monastery to be built in Ireland. We will view the ruins; particularly notable are the glazed medieval tiles on the abbey floor.
  • Monasterboice We continue to Monasterboice, founded in the 5th century by an obscure disciple of St. Patrick named St. Buite. This is one of the most famous religious sites in Ireland, and during our visit, we will view the roofless round tower, as well as its greatest treasures, Muiredeach’s High Cross and West Cross. We continue to our hotel in the Dundalk Area.
Day 3 Day Trip to Armagh & Downpatrick
  • Down Cathedral This morning we will journey to Downpatrick to visit Down Cathedral, named by 12 century tradition as St. Patrick’s gravesite. The current cathedral is from 19th century and was built within its 13th-century foundations.
  • Inch Abbey Next we will stop at Inch Abbey, a Cistercian monastery built by the conqueror John de Courcy around 1180. The English monks that founded the abbey would not allow Irishmen to join their ranks, thereby changing the composition of the area from Irish to English. Then we continue to Armagh, one of Ireland’s oldest cities, dating back to the time of St. Patrick.
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedrals Our day concludes in Armagh, where we will visit both St. Patrick’s Cathedrals. These cathedrals typify the feud in Northern Ireland between Roman Catholics and Protestants. The cathedrals are located across from each other on opposite hillsides. We return to our hotel in the Dundalk area.
Day 4 Dundalk – Kells – Tara – Dublin
  • Columban monastery This morning we will travel to Kells where we will tour the ruins of the Columban monastery and take a stroll through the town itself. We will see Celtic high crosses as well as a round tower that was built as a watchtower and refuge for monks in the 9th century.
  • Hill of Tara WecontinuetotheHillofTara,bestrememberedastheroyalseatof the high kings in the early centuries of the millennium before Christianity came to Ireland. We will enjoy a tour of the remains of Tara's former glories, grassy mounds, some ancient pillar stones, and depressions where the Iron Age ring forts stood. The earthworks here were inhabited as long ago as 2000 BC.
  • Visitor Center We will also explore the exhibits of the Visitor Center, and enjoy a stirring audiovisual presentation, before continuing to our hotel in Dublin.
Day 5 Dublin (Saints & Scholars)
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral Our morning begins with a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It is said that St. Patrick baptized converts on this site, and consequently a church has stood here since A.D. 450, making it the oldest Christian site in Dublin. St. Patrick's is closely associated with Jonathan Swift, who was dean from 1713 to 1745 and whose tomb lies in the south aisle.
  • Christ Church Cathedral We continue with a visit to nearby Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin’s oldest building and the mother church of the dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough in the Church of Ireland. Our tour will be highlighted by the “leaning wall of Dublin,” the south transept, many fine 16th - 19th century monumental sculptures and brasses, as well as The Crypt, one of the largest medieval crypts in either Britain or Ireland.
  • Trinity College Our afternoon begins with a visit to Trinity College, the oldest university in Ireland, with cobbled squares, beautiful gardens, a picturesque quadrangle, and buildings dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The college is also home to the Book of Kells, an 8th-century version of the four Gospels with elaborate scripting and illumination.
  • National Museum Our day concludes with a visit to the National Museum, established in 1890. The museum is a reflection of Ireland's heritage from 2000 B.C. to the present. The museum houses many of the country's greatest historical finds, including the Treasury Exhibit, with the Ardagh Chalice, Tara Brooch, Cross of Cong, and an extensive exhibit of Irish Bronze Age gold ornaments.
Day 6 Day Trip to Glendalough & Kildare
  • Glendalough Today we will travel down the southern coast of Ireland to visit Glendalough, one of the most important historical sites in Ireland. Founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century, Glendalough grew to be one of the most powerful monasteries of the Irish Middle Ages. The early Christian religious settlement was built in the valley of two lakes and was one of Ireland's greatest pilgrimage centers up to the middle of the 19th century.
  • Visitor’s Center The modern Visitor’s Center illustrates the history of Glendalough and features artifacts from the site. We will then take a specialist- guided tour through the monastic settlement. We will visit St. Kevin’s Church, the remains of the Cathedral, and the Round Towers.
  • St. Brigid's Cathedral Then we continue on to Kildare, where we will visit St. Brigid’s Cathedral that commemorates the site where she founded a religious community in 480. Here, the monks and nuns lived together under the same roof and pagan rituals were also performed here, such as the burning of a perpetual fire. While the cathedral had to be rebuilt in Victorian times, the restorers adhered to the 13th century design of the church. We return to Dublin for the evening.
Day 7 Dublin – Clonmacnoise – Clonfert – Galway Area
  • Clonfert We head today into “Royal Meath” so known because the area was once the home of the ancient kings of Ireland. Our first stop today will be at Clonfert, home to a 6th-century monastery and a 12th-century cathedral dedicatedtoStBrendantheNavigator. Situated on the River Shannon, it was destroyed in 1541 and restored by Bishop Wolsey in 1664. With carved archways, sculpture and a lovely stained glass window, Clonfert Cathedral stands as a wonderful example of ancient Celtic spirituality.
  • Monastery of Clonmacnoise Next we will visit one of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland, the Monastery of Clonmacnoise. Founded by St. Ciaran in 548 AD, the surviving structures date from the 9th century. The Monastery became the nucleus of a medieval university and burial place for saints and kings.
  • Spanish Arch & Church of St. Nicholas This afternoon we will drive into County Galway, with its spectacular scenery and its city set on Galway Bay. Galway is the largest city in this part of Ireland, and for centuries it traded with Spain. Traces of Iberian influence can still be seen in the architecture of the city. We will see the famous Spanish Arch and the Church of St. Nicholas, where tradition holds that Columbus prayed before sailing to the New World. We continue to our hotel in the Galway area.
Day 8 Day Trip to Connemara
  • Sky Road & Clifden This morning we will explore the rugged and tempestuous Connemara Coast, an area of outstanding scenic grandeur, where Gaelic is still the everyday language. We begin with a scenic drive along the Sky Road, a 7- mile circular route with stunning ocean views, before visiting Clifden, a beautiful Irish town known for its craft shops and lively pubs.
  • Kylemore Abbey After some free time to explore Clifden, next we will pay a visit to Kylemore Abbey, one of the most beautiful sights in Ireland. Sheltered by the slopes of the Twelve Bens, this lakeside castle is a romantic, battlemented Gothic revival fantasy, and today houses a girl’s boarding school. We will view the abbey, explore its gardens and visit the Craft Shop.
  • Croagh Patrick This afternoon we will explore Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, which has a long history in Ireland. It received its current name from St. Patrick, who spent 40 days fasting and praying for the Irish atop the mountain. We will make the pilgrimage to the summit (shoes are optional) and visit the modern chapel, as well as enjoy the spectacular panoramic views over Clew Bay.
  • each na Miasa Cultural Center For those who do not wish to make the two-hour ascent, the Teach na Miasa Cultural Center has much to offer at the base of the mountain. We return to Galway for the night.
Day 9 Galway – The Burren – Cliffs of Moher – Shannon Area
  • The Burren This morning we leave Galway and drive to The Burren, a unique botanical environment whose name comes from a Gaelic word meaning “rocky land.”
  • Kilfenora Cathedral We will drive past the limestone pavement and unique floral and fauna of the region to Kilfe nora, seat of the area’s Catholic diocese. We will visit the town’s Cathe dral, a church from the 12th century, featuring a roofless chancel and sculptured capitals.
  • Burren Centre We will have time to walk amongst the High Crosses before entering the Burren Centre, an excellent exhibit on the geology and fauna of the area and the impact of man on this distinctive limestone landscape.
  • Cliffs of Moher This afternoon we will see some of the most dramatic scenery Ireland has to offer, the Cliffs of Moher. The dramatic sheer rock face cliffs stretch for five miles and rise 700 feet from the Atlantic Ocean, the highest cliffs in Europe. We will climb O’Brien’s Tower, built as a viewing point for Victorian tourists. We continue to our hotel in the Shannon area.
Day 10 Departure from Shannon
  • Return flight home Our enjoyable and rewarding experience will come to an end as our WorldStrides Tour Director accompanies us to the airport for the return flight home.