Itinerary for our Celtic Ireland Journey« Back to Trip Overview
Day 1 – Tues 16th Aug
Collection from Dublin airport and drive to our hotel in Naas – for 3 nights. Introductions and orientation meeting followed by dinner at the hotel.
Day 2 – Wed 17th Aug
We start our journey with a pilgrimage to Kildare, the home of Brigid. She was both Pagan goddess and early Christian saint. St Brigid established a monastery in 470AD, probably at the location of a former pagan sacred site. Kildare Cathedral developed from this monastery in the early 13th century and is unusual in Ireland for being Anglican. It contains a hidden “sheela-na-gig,” a pagan symbol of fertility and the feminine. Within the graveyard is the only surviving round tower in Ireland that you can climb.
We will visit Brigid’s Well, a place of peace and tranquility that has been revered since beyond memory. The Brigidine Sisters, who maintain her perpetual flame, are a shining light for peace and have recently opened a new centre that we will visit when we go to meet them. Free choice dinner not included.
Day 3 – Thurs 18th Aug
The former monastic site of Glendalough meaning “Glen of the two lakes” is set in a valley of great natural beauty and serenity surrounded by the Wicklow Mountains. The “monastic city” was mostly built in the 12th century and comprises several churches, a spectacular round tower and an early Celtic cross. We explore the legends as well as the ruins and take time to walk in the natural woodland that was home to this spiritual retreat.
We lunch at Avoca Handweavers’ award-winning café and take a tour of the oldest woolen mill in Ireland. We travel through the stunning high moorland scenery of the Wicklow Gap to visit two stone circles within a sacred landscape. Castleruddery, a small stone circle, contains two large quartz blocks as portal stones that are highly energetic. Athgreany Piper’s Stones, are reputed to be dancers who were turned to stone for dancing on Sunday but locals say that fairies still play the bagpipes at midnight! Dinner at hotel.
Day 4 – Fri 19th Aug
Today we drive across the width of Ireland to the dramatically located harbor town of Sligo, our base for the next three days (3 ½ hrs). The town looks out to the west through the harbor and Sligo Bay to the open Atlantic and is protected by the imposing flat topped mountain of Benbulbin to the north. The rest of the day is free time to explore this charming town including the ruins of medieval Sligo Abbey. Free choice dinner not included.
Day 5 – Sat 20th Aug
Carrowkeel is set high in the rugged Bricklieve Mountains and offers sensational views of the surrounding landscape. It is wild and spectacular here and it allows us to easily imagine ourselves in Neolithic times when the forces and places of Nature were revered as part of their worldview and spirituality; as we reach the top we are in another world. There are fourteen Neolithic cairns, two of which have three-sided recesses forming a cruciform chamber that we can enter. Cairn G has a light-box above the entrance, similar to the one at Newgrange, and this admits the light of the setting sun around midsummer and the setting moon around midwinter.
Carrowmore is the largest megalithic complex in Ireland covering more than 1 ½ square miles. There are remains of thirty passage cairns, together forming an oval shape, many of which have a dolmen at their centre. The sacred mountain of Knocknarea, with Maebh’s Cairn on top, is visible to the northwest. We will have the whole day to explore these landscapes that have been revered as sacred for over 5,000 years. Dinner at the hotel
Day 6 – Sun 21st Aug
Today we explore County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland. Our first stop is at the oldest field system in the world, the Ceide Fields. Set high on the clifftops the pyramidal shaped visitor centre has a glazed viewing area at its peak affording spectacular views out over the ocean as well as an informative audio-visual show on the people who lived here 5,500 years ago.
We’ll have lunch at the visitor center cafe. We then take a short journey but leap forward five thousand years to the Franciscan Moyne Abbey dating to 1462AD. The ruins are amongst the most intact of any Irish abbey and give a glimpse into medieval monastic life. Set in a rural location and receiving few visitors it has a very peaceful atmosphere, ideal for meditating or ceremony.location and receiving few visitors it has a very peaceful atmosphere, ideal for meditating or ceremony. Free choice dinner not included
Day 7 – Mon 22nd Aug
Today we travel to Kells via a brief detour into Northern Ireland. We will be traveling to our third and final hotel base in Kells (3 1/2 hours) for 3 nights. There are no border controls as we cross over into Ulster to visit the enigmatic Janus Idol and Lustymore Idol on Boa Island. Two carved stone statues that may date to the Bronze Age are located in the atmospheric early Christian graveyard of Caldragh that is around fifteen hundred years old. There are similarities to the Easter Island Moai and some people think they look alien so lets see who you think they were.
When we arrive in Kells you will have a free afternoon and evening to explore the town with its five High Crosses and other historic sites. Free choice dinner not included
Day 8 – Tues 23rd Aug
This morning our climb up to the hilltop cairns of Loughcrew is rewarded with panoramic views of seventeen counties (or so we’re told!). The old name for Loughcrew was Slieve na Caillighe, Gaelic for Mountain of the Witch. We can gain access into Cairn T that has elaborately carved and decorated stones in its inner recesses and the Hag’s Chair set into the northern side of the kerb. We’ll take time to personally experience the energies of the different cairns that each have solar alignments on various Celtic Festival dates. We have a relaxed lunch at the nearby Loughcrew Gardens.
Then we’re off to royal Tara the ancient capital of Leinster and the place where the king undertook the ‘Ban Fheis’ or sacred marriage to the goddess in order to secure fertility and wellbeing for the land and his people. Its importance grew until the king of Tara was also seen as the High King of all Ireland, but only after undertaking tests to prove his rightfulness to be king. We explore the complex of sites at Tara including Grainne’s (Sun Goddess) Mound, the Mound of Hostages, the Stone of Destiny and Teach Cormaic. Free choice dinner not included
Day 9 – Wed 24th Aug
Today we visit the Bru na Boinne visitor center to learn about Newgrange and Knowth cairns, Ireland’s most famous Neolithic sites.
Anthony Murphy, author of “Newgrange: Monument to Immortality,” will be our expert Irish guide for the day to share his wisdom with us as we experience the sacred sites of the Boyne Valley.
We’ll be guided inside Newgrange – known as a passage tomb, but also a place of initiation and spiritual rites of passage. It is aligned such that the midwinter solstice sunrise casts a shadow that extends deep inside the passage to the central chambers. Lunch at the visitors centre & talk by Anthony Murphy.
Afternoon visit to Knowth that has the finest Neolithic stone carvings in Europe that decorate most of the kerbstones around the base of the cairn. Farewell dinner at the hotel.
Day 10 – Thurs 25th Aug
To Dublin airport for flights home or private time in Dublin. Our hearts are full, friends have been made and memories will never be forgotten!