Ireland: Catholic Heritage of Emerald Isles – August 2018 (SOLD OUT)

05 August 2018 to 14 August 2018



First Day in Ireland -Land of Saints & Scholars

Everyone arrived on time along with their luggage. We drove across Ireland to Clanmacnoise which was the ancient monastery built by Saint Caíron in the 500’s. We had Mass along the Shannon River in the same place Saint John Paul II celebrated Mass.

Fr. James Conlon’s excellent  introduction, opening comments and homily here.

Enjoy the video of our opening day in Ireland!

Ireland Day 2: Apparition at Knock & Fun in Galway

The Apparition at Knock is a little known among Catholics but for me it is my favorite Apparation. It is called a Marian apparition but in reality it is a Eucharistic apparition because the center of everything as the Lamb Standing on the Altar.

We had a beautiful Mass at the very chapel of the apparition with Fr. James Conlon and two of our deacons. You can hear Fr. James’s homily here.

I gave a 30 minute talk hear about all the biblical and Catholic meaning to this somewhat complicated yet simple and beautiful apparition which is 139 years old this month.  You can hear/watch my talk in two parts below. For a beautiful song about Knock, click here.

Then our two buses drove back to Galway where we spent the rest of the afternoon taking a walking tour of the city and free time for shopping, eating at all the pubs and restaurants, and just enjoying the pedestrian only streets that are fascinating to walk through.




Ireland Day 3: Bunratty Castle, Mass at Holy Trinity and Arrival in Beautiful Sneem

Today it turned out to be great weather and everyone is rested up after two good full nights sleep 🙂

We left Galway and headed south to step back in time by visiting Bunratty Castle and driving past the city of Limerick. We had Holy Mass in the restored church of The Holy Trinity in Adare. 500 years ago King Henry VIII confiscated all of this land from the church and the monastery and killed all the priests and monks. Only in the last hundred years were the Catholics able to regain the church.

Then we drove down to the beautiful south west corner of Ireland to stay in a gorgeous hotel out in the country over looking the landscape and sneezi 500 years ago King Henry VIII confiscated all of this land from the church and the monastery and killed all the priests and monks. Only in the last hundred years were the Catholics able to regain the church.

You can hear Deacon Tom Collier’s homily here.

Then we drove down to the beautiful south west corner of Ireland to stay in a gorgeous hotel out in the country over looking the landscape in Sneem.

Ireland Day 4: Killarney, Horse Jaunting, “Ring of Kerry” and Local Pub with Music & Dancing

New adventures and excitement in southwest Ireland. Today we left early and headed to the Lillarney National Park with some of the most beautiful landscapes in Ireland. I gave my talk on “Creation Screams of Existence of God” (see below).

We visited Muckross House and walked through  The manicured gardens and pathways. Then 2 1/2 hours of free time in Kalarney for jaunting in the horse carts, fabulous lunches and exploring this beautiful city full of flowers and the Franciscan Church.

After our time in Killarney we boarded our buses and went for the beautiful drive around the southwest Peninsula of Kerry called the “Ring of Kerry“. Mass in Sneem village church, some free time and dinner and then to the local pub for Guinness and music and dancing with all the local folks.




Ireland Day 5: Blarney Castle, Rock of Cashel, Holycross, Clonmel, Batt’s Storytelling

Kissing the Blarney Stone, St. Patrick and Rock of Cashel, Mass at the 1100 AD Holycross Abbey (Deacon Floyd’s homily here).

Delightful evening with storyteller Batt Burns! An 8-minute sampling of Batt Burns and his Irish storytelling here.



Ireland Day 6: Kilkenny, Glendalough, St. Kevin’s into Dublin

Rainy Irish day which gave us all a sense of what Ireland is often like. Everyone is doing well and having a great time.

Today we left Clonmel and drove to Kilkenny to see this fabulous castle and medieval town. From there to Glendalough where we saw a movie about the monastic site, had a great lunch and took a tour of the old monasteries and churches.

Then we had Mass at St. Kevins (Fr.James homily here) before arriving in Dublin.

Ireland Day 7: Dublin Tour, Trinity Collge, Book of Kells, Mass in JH Newman’s Church, Merry Ploughbiys

We had pretty good weather today and it was enjoyed by everyone. After a delicious breakfast we took a driving tour of Dublin. We hit all the main sites and some of them that are not main sites but very interesting and instructive.

The “Famine Monument“ was very sad and gave a good depiction of what we learned about the suffering of the Irish people caused by the inconsideration and domination of the English.

We visited the statue of Oscar Wilde and learned of many other of the poets and scholars that have come from Ireland. We visited Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells which is an incredible treasure of the Church written and painted around 800 A.D. Some free time before Mass at a church built by Cardinal John Henry Newman (hear/see Fr. Jame’s excellent homily here). Then we went for a dinner show with the Merry Ploughboys. Fun, fun!

For additional music and dancing with the Merry Ploughboys , since it wouldn’t fit in the main video, click here.

Ireland Day 8: St.Patrick’s Cathedral, Garden of Remembrance, Pro-Cathedral, Dublin Doors and more

This was our last day in Ireland and we spent a wonderful time in Dublin. We visited the big churches, the Garden of Remembrance and gave everybody a lot of free time.

Mass at St. Teresa’s Carmelite Church. Fr. James Conlon’s final pilgrimage homily here.  A great Mass in a group picture and lots of fun together. Enjoy!

Ireland Day 9 Farewells

Janet and I were overwhelmed with hugs and prayers and thanks for this beautiful pilgrimage through Ireland. It ran perfectly smoothly without any glitches and we covered all the territory we intended to following the Catholic Heritage of the Emerald Isles.

Today the group all left on various buses and half of them on their own, since they came land only, and everyone is smiles and joyful. Our guides Batt and Deirdre and our drivers were excellent and together with all of the individual pilgrims we had a harmonious and delightful trip together around this historic and Catholic country.

Here’s a short video of the goodbyes and farewells.
Our guides Batt and Deirdre and our drivers were excellent and together with all of the individual pilgrims we had a harmonious and delightful trip together around this historic and Catholic country.

Here’s a short video of the goodbyes and farewells.

Pilgrimage Journal of our Pilgrimage to Ireland: Beautiful Write-up by Mike Sweeney

This is a remarkable journal of our recent pilgrimage to Ireland following the Heritage of the Emerald Isles. You can read it here.

About the Pilgrimage

You can watch the entire pilgrimage video below, or download the 1080p version at this link.

Ireland August 2018 from Steve Ray on Vimeo.



Detailed and Eloquent Journal of our Pilgrimage by Mike Sweeney. could ask for a nicer summary.

This is a remarkable journal of our recent pilgrimage to Ireland following the Heritage of the Emerald Isles. You can read it here.


Join us for our next pilgrimage to the Emerald Isle of Ireland where we will discover the Catholic heritage of this courageous Catholic land. The beauty of this country has to be seen to be believed. It would also be harder to find a friendlier country. To see videos of one of our earlier pilgrimages to Ireland, click here and here.

We will have Fr. James Conlon with us. He is a citizen of Ireland and pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, MI. He was an Irish barrister (lawyer) before becoming a priest. He will share his intimate knowledge and love his country with us.

Along with special guest Terry Barber from the Catholic Resource Center, St. Joseph Communications, founder of Lighthouse Media and host of the Terry & Jesse Show.

We will study and discover the rich and long history of the Catholic Faith in this land of saints and scholars. We will also learn their suffering and struggles with the Protestant Reformation and the English oppression. We will see the most sacred sites and beautiful churches including those related to St. Patrick, Our Lady of Knock and many more. None of the spectacular castles and landscapes will be missed.

Our guide is Batt Burns, a seanchaí which is an old time Irish storyteller and an award-winning author of children’s books who is keeping the tradition alive. You will howl with laughter and wipe a tear from your eye as he waxes eloquent with his Irish tales. Nothing like learning Ireland from a storyteller who loves his country and his culture. Oh, and did I forget to tell you he is a devout Catholic who will teach us the Catholic history of his beloved Island.

Day 1 S Sunday August 5: Depart USA

Depart from the USA on overnight flights to Ireland’s capital city, Dublin.

Day 2 S Monday August 6: Dublin | Galway

Arrive at Dublin Airport where you will be met with a cead mile failte (a hundred thousand welcomes) by Steve and Janet Ray and Irish Catholic tour escort/storyteller, Batt Burns. Head west through the Midlands of Ireland stopping at Clonmacnoise for a guided tour of the monastic site and celebrate Mass at the Pope’s Shelter. Then proceed to Galway where will enjoy its rich history, quaint narrow streets, shops, galleries and lively pubs with great traditional . Welcome Dinner and overnight in Galway. (D)

Day 3 S Tuesday August 7: Knock Shrine | Galway

After breakfast, Batt will give a short presentation entitled “An Introduction to Ireland”. He will give a little of his own background as well as some basic facts about Ireland’s history, physical geography, climate, economy, language and culture. Then, depart for a visit to Ireland’s most famous pilgrimage site at Knock in County Mayo. Here learn about the 1879 apparition of Our Lady, then celebrate Mass in the Apparition Chapel of Knock Shrine. Travel on to Claremorris for lunch. Time permitting, travel through Connemara, Ireland’s most extensive Gaelic-speaking area, before returning to Galway. Tonight, Batt will advise of good pubs where there will be great Irish music and time to mix with local people. Dinner on your own and overnight in Galway. (CB)

Day 4 S Wednesday August 8: Galway | Sneem

Depart Galway and travel south to Bunratty Castle, one of the best restored castles in Ireland. Have a guided tour followed by time to visit the folk park. Continuing on to Limerick City, drive by King John’s Castle and St. Mary’s Cathedral. Also, see places associated with Frank Mc Court’s famous book “Angela’s Ashes”. Stop in the pretty village of Adare with its distinctive thatched houses. Celebrate Mass at Trinitarian Church. Next, travel to the colorful, prize-winning village of Sneem, Batt’s home village. Here you will get an opportunity to sample Irish rural life in a quaint village of 350 people. Dinner on your own and overnight in Sneem. (CB, D)

Day 5 S Thursday August 9: Ring of Kerry | Sneem

After a full Irish breakfast, depart for a tour of the famous Ring of Kerry, which includes the beautiful Killarney National Park. Also, the grounds and gardens of beautiful Muckross House. You will have the options of touring the house, taking a jaunting car  and buggy) ride into the Killarney National Park or simply enjoying the lovely gardens. Visit the 15th century Franciscan Abbey nearby. Celebrate Mass in Sneem Church. Dinner in a village restaurant. Tonight, Batt will host a traditional evening of Irish music, song and dance in one of the village pubs. Top class entertainers will be invited in to perform and a group of village set dancers will dance an ancient Sneem Set dance. Many villagers will join in the fun and you will have an opportunity to chat with the locals. Overnight in Sneem. (CB, D)

Day 6 S Friday August 10: Sneem | Clonmel

Travel over the Cork/Kerry border to Blarney Castle with its famous Blarney Stone. There will be ample time here to kiss the Blarney Stone, if you so wish, and to shop in the extensive Blarney Woolen Mills, which houses gifts and crafts from Ireland. After lunch, visit the Rock of Cashel, Ireland’s most important ancient religious site. See a perfectly preserved Round Tower, the magnificent Cormac’s Chapel, the 14th century ruined cathedral, the bishop’s residence and the well-restored Vicar’s Choral. Celebrate Mass in the beautifully restored Holy Cross Abbey which houses a relic of the True Cross. Continue on to Clonmel. Dinner on your own followed by Batt’s one man show entitled “Whisperings of Ireland.” Overnight in Clonmel. (CB)

Village folks play Irish music and teach us to dance!

Day 7 S Saturday August 11: Kilkenny | Dublin

Depart for Kilkenny. Upon arrival, take a walkabout in Kilkenny, and have time to visit the Kilkenny Design Workshops where skilled crafts people display their wares. Travel on to Glendalough, the site of St. Kevin’s famous monastery, an oasis of spirituality, in County Wicklow, known as the Garden of Ireland. Celebrate Mass in nearby Laragh Church. Move on to Dublin, Ireland’s capital city. Dinner on your own and overnight in Dublin. CB)

Batt explains life of Oscar Wilde

Day 8 S Sunday August 12: City Tour | Dublin

This morning take a city tour. Visit Phoenix Park and see the residences of the President of Ireland and that of The US Ambassador. Learn about Dublin writers George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and others. Later, visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Jonathan Swift was once Dean. Enjoy the Georgian architecture of Merrion Square where Batt will do a short presentation at the statue of Oscar Wilde. Evening Mass in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral. Dinner on your own and overnight in Dublin. (CB)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin

Day 9 S Monday August 13: Book of Kells | Dublin

After a full Irish breakfast, visit Trinity College. See the magnificent Book of Kells, an illuminated copy of the Four Gospels. This afternoon is free to do some last-minute shopping in the Grafton and Nassau Street areas or sightsee on your own and tour the wonderful National Museum, Guinness Brewery, Jameson Distillery. Celebrate Mass at St. Audeon’s Church.

Farewell dinner and dance show at the Merry Ploughboy (see video below)! Overnight in Dublin. (CB, D)

Day 10 S Tuesday August 14: Return to USA

Bid goodbye to the Emerald Isle and new found friends with return flights from Dublin Airport. (CB)