The varied landscape of lush green meadows, mountain ranges and spectacular coastline certainly lead one to believe that this land is blessed and stories of fairy folk and leprechauns also reflect the belief that the land has guardians. Our travels will take us back in time and into the realms of myth, legend and deep wisdom as we make a journey through some of the most magical counties of the Republic of Ireland, visiting sites revered as sacred by Pagans and Christians for thousands of years. This opens a doorway for each of us to discover forgotten aspects of our inner world…
After collection from Dublin airport we start our journey based in Naas, County Kildare. We visit historic Kildare Cathedral and climb the mysterious round tower in its grounds, the only one in Ireland we can ascend. This town is about Bridget and we'll visit her holy well and the Brigidine Sisters who maintain her perpetual flame.
Nearby we venture into the Wicklow Mountains to visit Glendalough, an atmospheric former monastic community established fifteen hundred years ago by St Kevin. Its historic buildings are set in a wooded valley of outstanding natural beauty containing two lakes with a wonderful tranquil energy that nourishes the soul.
Travelling on to County Galway, famed for its rural nature, we drive through the spectacular scenery of Connemara National Park and let the beauty of this land speak to us. Onward into County Mayo we discover the medieval Franciscan Moyne Abbey and the oldest known field system in the world, the Ceide Fields. The views from here are gorgeous!
In neighbouring County Sligo we’ll go back in time to the Neolithic as we explore Ireland’s largest megalithic complex at Carrrowmore. Our guide will bring this landscape to life as we learn of its original purpose and what beliefs these people had; food for thought as we make comparisons with our modern world. The isolated site of Carrowkeel has sat high in the Bricklieve Mountains for over five thousand years, and the thirty-minute trek to get there is well worth it! The panoramic views from the cairn on top are spectacular and we are able to crawl into the chamber that has withstood the ravages of the Irish weather for five millennia and go within!
We make a brief detour into Northern Ireland (Ulster) to visit two remarkable carved statues of unknown origin in an ancient graveyard on Boa Island; it will be a memorable experience. Moving on to the old town of Kells, famous for the Book of Kells you can go in search of its five High Crosses, the locals are still looking for the fifth one!
We are now in the eastern province of Leinster where we get a bird’s eye view of seventeen counties from the top of Loughcrew or Slieve na Caillighe- the Mountain of the Witch. This site has been revered beyond memory and for good reason. What symbolism will you see in the stone carvings within the mighty cairn?
The ancient seat of the high kings of Ireland at Tara is the traditional center of this province, located by a holy well. What secrets will it share with us? Energy currents empower each of the sacred centres on the hilltop.
Finally across the Boyne Valley we visit Newgrange and Knowth cairns, Ireland’s most famous Neolithic sites. We enter deep into the centre of Newgrange cairn, a place that was used for spiritual ceremony before Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids were built! At Knowth we see some of the finest Neolithic stone carvings in Europe.
Our magical journey being complete we return to Dublin airport for flights home but the impact of your time in Ireland will stay with you forever!
Day 1 – Fri 22nd Aug: Collection from Dublin airport and drive to our hotel in Naas – for 2 nights. Introductions and orientation meeting followed by. Dinner at the hotel
Day 2 – Sat 23rd Aug. 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 sheela-na-gig inside. Within the graveyard is the only surviving round tower in Ireland that you can climb. We will visit Bridget’s Well & the Brigidine Sisters who maintain her perpetual flame. Free choice dinner not included
Day 3 – Sun 24th Aug:
The former monastic site of Glendalough meaning ‘Glen of the two lakes’ is 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. In the afternoon we will drive through beautiful scenery to our next hotel in Galway for two nights. Dinner at hotel
Day 4 – Mon 25th Aug: Day sightseeing in County Galway including the stunning scenery of Connemara National Park. Free choice dinner not included
Day 5 – Tues 26th Aug: Today we explore County Mayo. Our first stop is at the oldest field system in the world, the Ceide Fields. The pyramidal shaped visitor centre has a glazed viewing area at its peak affording spectacular views out over the ocean as well as information on the people who lived here 5,500 years ago.
We then take a short journey to the Franciscan Moyne Abbey dating to 1462AD. The ruins are amongst the most intact of any abbey and give a glimpse into medieval monastic life. We conclude the day at a hotel in Sligo for 2 nights. Dinner at hotel
Day 6 – Wed 27th Aug: Today we will meet our local guide Mike Croghan, hearing the legends and history of Ireland from Irish lips will bring it to life in a very real way.
Carrowkeel is set high in the Bricklieve Mountains and offers sensational views of the surrounding landscape. There are fourteen Neolithic cairns, two of which have three side 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. 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. Arrive back at Sligo hotel. Free choice dinner not included
Day 7 – Thur 28th Aug: Today we travel to Kells via a brief detour into Northern Ireland. 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.
Arrive at Kells hotel for 3 nights. You will have a free afternoon and evening to explore the town with its High Crosses and other historic sites. Free choice dinner not included
Day 8 –Fri 29th Aug:
This morning our climb up to the hilltop cairns of Loughcrew is rewarded with panoramic views of seventeen counties. 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. Lunch at Loughcrew Garden Centre. Visit to Tara the ancient capital of Leinster and the ancient seat of the high kings of Ireland when Tara replaced Uisneach as the seat of power. There is a 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 – Sat 30th 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 will 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 – Sun 31th Aug: Depart for Dublin airport for flights home or private time in Dublin
Also see tour packages in:
Europe Ireland Spiritual Odyssey Pilgrimage/Spirituality Archeology/History