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Day 1 - Travel to Dublin, Ireland
Day 2 - Dublin
Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral, a magnificent church honoring the early Irish saint's legacy. At Trinity College, see the remarkable illustrations of the Book of Kells, one of the oldest books in the world containing the four gospels.
In the evening, gather before dinner for an introduction to the rich themes of Celtic spirituality through poetry, prayer, music and ritual.
Day 3 - Hill of Tara and Knowth
Visit what was once the most sacred Celtic site in Ireland, the Hill of Tara. In Irish mythology, Tara is the home of gods and a threshold to the afterlife.
Then explore one of Europe's most spellbinding prehistoric sites: the great burial place of Ireland's high kings at Knowth. View the astonishingly well-preserved 5000-year-old burial chamber, built by the ancient Celts to reflect the cycles of the earth. Knowth boasts the greatest collection of passage-grave art ever uncovered in Western Europe.
Day 4 - Glendalough
Journeying through the beautiful Wicklow Mountains, explore the ancient monastic settlement of Glendalough, nestled near two clearwater lakes beneath sheer cliffs. Take a pilgrim's walk through the monastic city, viewing its round tower, cathedral, stone churches, and decorated crosses. Learn more about St. Kevin, who lived out his contemplative calling in the mountain wildnerness--and even, legend says, interacted with a lake monster!
Day 5 - Kildare and the Rock of Cashel
After an introduction to the complex and contradictory goddess-saint Brigid, visit the charming town of Kildare to view Brigid's sacred flame and meet with Brigidine nun Mary Minehan. With Sister Mary, visit two holy wells and witness (or take part in!) a sacred dance around the beloved saint's five prayer stones.
Continue on to what is celebrated as the most spectacular of all Irish monuments, the Rock of Cashel. Rising dramatically on a hill overlooking green pastures, this fourth-century stone fortification was a seat of kings and medieval bishops for centuries. Explore its round tower, Gothic cathedral, and Romanesque chapel.
Day 6 - Dingle Peninsula
Journey to the breathtaking Dingle Peninsula, a dazzling seaside province whose rugged cliffs and pristine hills have drawn contemplatives for centuries. Visit prehistoric "beehive" huts, including the Gallarus Oratory. Take a walk along the seashore near the clear aquamarine waves of the Atlantic.
Day 7 - Galway and Inishmore
Visit Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Known as a "thin place" where heaven and earth meet, the island is renowned for its dark beauty, rugged seascapes, fairy rings, and early Christian ruins.
With guest guide Dara Molloy, walk through the windswept and rocky landscape and see the thousand-year-old stonewall fences that honeycomb the entire island.
Dara will lead us in prayer and traditional rituals, and will share stories of the island's twelve saints. Says Dara: "Aran is a place that left me spellbound when I first visited it in 1982. It put me in touch with a part of myself that I had not known existed." He now lives as a Celtic monk on Inishmore.
Day 8 - Clonmacnoise
Visit Clonmacnoise, Ireland's most important and extensive monastic site. Its evocative ruins, located on the River Shannon, include a cathedral, eight churches, two round towers, hundreds of early Christian cross slabs, and the remains of a 13th-century castle. See the holy well of Saint Ciarán, believed by some to have brought Christianity to Ireland before Patrick, and learn more about how he befriended animals and founded the site.
Day 9 - In and Around Sligo
Choose between two full day excursions:
- Visit the small island of Inishmurray, now deserted but notable for its ancient ecclesiastical history. Learn the legend of the island's stones and how they can foil enemies.
- Hike up the lush seaside hill of Knocknarea to reach its summit, where you can climb a gigantic unexcavated 'cairn' (grave) known as Maeve's Mound. Legend holds that the Celtic warrior queen, standing up in full battle gear, is buried here. Those who prefer not to hike will visit the mysterious stone circles of Carrowmore, Ireland's largest megalithic tomb complex.
Day 10 - Holy Hill Hermitage
Visit Holy Hill Hermitage, an example of Celtic monasticism alive and well today. At this newly-founded Carmelite monastery, "an atmosphere of stillness and prayer, the literature of the world's great religious traditions, manual labor, and tranquil creative activities serve as a moving center in which to reweave the scattered personality into wholeness, holiness, and health." Take a tour of the hermitage with Sister Susan Ryan, participate in a "Four Elements Ritual" in the courtyard, and enjoy dinner with the religious community.
Return to Dublin for an evening of rest, shopping, or exploration.
Day 11 - Dublin
Back in Dublin, take time to reflect on what you've experienced in small group sessions or with private time. During the evening, share your impressions and your spiritual journey at a traditional Irish farewell dinner.
Day 12 - Depart for New York