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Father David O'Connor, pastor emeritus at St. Mary Basilica and Assumption Church, Natchez, will lead a ten day group trip to Ireland in June. He said "The group (limited to 40 people) will depart from Jackson international airport for Dublin, Ireland on Saturday, June 20 and will return from Dublin to Jackson on Tuesday, June 30. He added "the tour, a guided tour of many of Ireland's historic and scenic places, will take us to four great cities (Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Kilkenny) and to picturesque parts of rural Ireland, great coastlines, the great Marian shrine of Knock, interesting small towns and my home village church where I was baptized."

The trip will include nine nights in Ireland, seven of which will be in 4-star hotels and two nights in the charming town of Clonakilty (Clonakilty Hotel, 3-star). The overnight stays will be in Dublin (2), Galway (2) ,Limerick (1), Clonakilty (2) and Kilkenny (2). Each day will begin with a full Irish breakfast. Six dinners are included in the tour as well as lunch in Father O’Connor home area. The group will travel in a luxury air-conditioned motor coach with a professional Irish Driver Guide throughout. The round trip group flight will be on Delta from Jackson to Dublin via Atlanta and return.

Upon arrival in Dublin airport the group will be met by our tour guide. The morning will consist of a panoramic sight-seeing tour of Dublin City (population of one million plus) and many landmarks that are central to Ireland’s history. We will see the G.P.O. (General Post Office) which was under siege during the 1916 uprising against British occupation. We will also see St. Patrick’s Cathedral which was founded in 1191 and Trinity College which houses the Book of Kells. The remainder of day, after checking into our hotel (Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road), may be spent resting, guided tour of Guinness Brewery, an opportunity of attending Mass in one of the city’s churches.

The next day we will visit Slane Castle and Distillery. Slane Castle, home to the Conynham family since 1703, and the setting for some of Ireland’s major concerts in the past twenty five years, is situated in the dramatic setting by the River Boyne. The afternoon will allow time for shopping in the city of Dublin. After breakfast next day we will head for the city of Galway. On our way there we will stop at the great Marian Shrine (Knock) where local people reported seeing the Virgin Mary on August 21, 1879. Knock has become an international place of pilgrimage and prayer. On arrival in Galway, we will check into the city-center Meyrick Hotel. Galway is a university city and a mecca for arts and culture.

Our two night stay in Galway, a great city of education, culture and tourism, will include a tour of the majestic landscape of Connemara, known as the “wild west of Ireland.’ We will see pristine lakes and mountains, quaint villages and a visit to Connemara Marble Factory and museum. As we travel from Galway to Limerick we will see the Cliffs of Moher that stand 700 feet over the waves of the Atlantic. We will visit Aillwee Cave, one of the oldest cave sites in Ireland where visitors will glimpse unusual mineral specimens. Nearby we visit the Birds of Prey Center where we learn about the variety of birds, their conservation and the myths and legends that surround them.

After a one-night stay in the city of Limerick, we visit the village of Adare, dubbed “the prettiest village in Ireland,” and the town of Newcastle West where Father O’Connor attended high school. He will celebrate Mass in his village church followed by lunch in the local hotel, the Devon Inn. From there we travel through the hill country of Cork country and we have a two night stay in the Clonakilty hotel. While in this area, we visit the most southwesterly point of Ireland, the Mizen Head Peninsula. We visit the Mizen Head Center and glimpse the stunning views of the coastline, the weathered rocks of the Atlantic, and the challenge to walk the 99 step suspension bridge over the Atlantic waves.

Before leaving Cork County, we will stop at one of Ireland’s oldest and greatest treasures, the Blarney Castle and Gardens. Here lies the famous Blarney Stone which is said to bestow the gift of eloquence on those who kiss it. Another wonderful stop this day is at the Rock of Cashel. This is the ruins of a monastic settlement that dates from the 13th century and was once the headquarters of the kings of Munster. Our final two nights will be in the historic city of Kilkenny at the River Court Hotel. While in Kilkenny we will have a train tour of the city, visits to St. Canice’s Cathedral and Kilkenny Castle (12 the century home of the Butlers). A new addition to our tours is the Malzards Pub Hurling Experience where we will learn the ancient Irish game of Hurling and be given an opportunity of practicing these skills. Our group’s final night in Ireland and our farewell dinner will be tonight. As one packs their bags on this final night, our hope is that our guests take home many exciting memories.

Father O'Connor said "I will be with the group throughout their visit to Ireland, and I will introduce the group members to the history and culture and myths of my native country. This is my seventh time to lead a tour of my home country, Ireland. My hope is that those who decide to make this tour will be enjoy the natural beauty and history of Ireland and will return home with life long memories and countless moments to savor from the land of saints and scholars." In past trip, a few individuals made plans to go to Ireland a few days before the group or remain a few days after the group returns. Cara Travel will be happy to work with individuals who might be interested in doing this.

The package price, including airfare from Jackson, is $4,200.00 per person sharing. $626 supplement for single room. For information and registration, please contact email: or call Sara or Allison at Cara Travel Services, 617-639-0273… Visit Father O'Connor's webpage at Cara Group Travel.

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