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    Ireland:  Journey to the Land of our Founding Friars

    Dates & Costs

    12 days: May 27- June 7, 2015
    Price: $3,400 per person

    Download the 2015 Alumni Trip Brochure 

    Sponsored by the Saint Francis University Alumni Association.

    With hosts:

    • Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D., President
    • Anita Baumann ‘90, Director of Alumni Relations





    Dear alumni and friends,

    The Saint Francis University Alumni Association is pleased to offer its latest travel opportunity, this time a journey to Ireland, the home country of our six founding friars.  We invite you to join us on this spiritually-inspiring odyssey during which we will discover our Franciscan heritage and explore the history, culture, music and faith of Ireland.

    In 1847, at the invitation of Bishop Michael O’Connor of Pittsburgh, six Franciscan friars from the Diocese of Tuam traveled from Roundstone and Clifden in western Ireland to establish a school in Loretto, PA. Those six friars—Br. Giles Carroll, Br. Domenick Lee, Br. Vincent Welstead, Br. Joseph Corcoran, Br. Peter McDermott, and Br. Jerome O’Keeffe—laid the foundation, literally and figuratively, of what became Saint Francis University, the oldest Franciscan University in the United States.

    Every year, the University remembers and celebrates these six brothers in our annual Founders Day dinner. In May 2015, we will add a new dimension to how we recall our founders by returning to their homeland and learning firsthand about our roots in Ireland. We will worship where they worshiped and walk where they walked. For anyone with ties to Saint Francis, it is sure to be special.

    Of course, our journey will take us to many other places on the Emerald Isle. A detailed itinerary is found on these pages, so we will simply assure you here that the trip will celebrate the richness of Ireland in all its dimensions. There will be much to feed the mind, stir the heart, and lift the spirit.

    Anita and Fr. Malachi

    We are sure you will be pleased with this tour for it is both high in value and low in cost.  Our trip will be a joyful journey designed to highlight our Franciscan heritage and Christian faith. Together, we will open ourselves to the wisdom and wonder that await us on this journey of a lifetime. You need not be a Saint Francis graduate to join—just a fellow seeker who wishes to experience an Irish odyssey. 

    Please review the brochure and you will see that this 12-day pilgrimage offers a varied and unique itinerary.  Act quickly because space is limited!  Simply complete the reservation form and forward your deposit to secure your place on this tour.  We look forward to taking this journey with you!  


    Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D., President

    Anita Baumann ’90, M.F.A., Director of Alumni Relations



    Itinerary (subject to change)

    Day 1 - Wednesday,  May 27 / Depart the USA

    Day 2 - Thursday,  May 28


    On arrival to Ireland we will spend the day in Ireland's capital, Dublin, where we will visit Trinity College to see the magnificent Old Library and the 1200-year-old Book of Kells, the beautifully illuminated version of the Gospels, designed by monks in the 9th century.  We continue on to the National Museum, housing a rich collection of Irish antiquities from the prehistoric times to the end of the medieval period.  This afternoon we will visit Guinness Storehouse originally built in 1904 to house the Guinness fermentation process.  The core of the Guinness Storehouse building is modeled on a giant pint glass, stretching up from reception on the ground floor to the Gravity Bar in the sky.  If filled this giant pint would hold approximately 14.3 million pints of Guinness.  Overnight in Dublin (B, D)

    Day 3 - Friday, May 29


    This morning we will visit Glendalough, a remarkable place that will still your mind, inspire your heart and fill your soul.  We will visit the Heritage Centre and Museum where we see a video entitled "Ireland of the Monasteries." We will meet Fr. Michael Rodgers, who returned to Ireland after twenty years of  missionary service. During this time he began to explore his own roots, a journey that led him eventually to mystical Glendalough. He spent much time exploring the valley and its story. People heard about him and began requesting accompanied walks.   Fr. Michael encourages an experiential approach that incorporates history, legend, spirituality, Christian tradition and awareness of nature and the environment. He will take you to St. Kevin's Monastic City, where you will visit St. Kevin's Church, The Cathedral, The Round Tower and St. Mary's Church.  We will return to Dublin and transfer to the Merry Ploughboy Irish Music Pub for dinner and a highly entertaining, interactive and memorable  traditional Irish show featuring outstanding  Irish musicians and dancers.   Overnight in Dublin (B, D) 

    DAY 4 - Saturday, May  30


    Today we will see the pre-Christian site, Newgrange, a megalithic burial ground designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also will see the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire to challenge to the pagan High King of Tara and visit Monasterboice to see Muiredach's High Cross, the finest high cross in all of Ireland. Later we will visit Mellifont Abbey, founded in 1142 and the first Cistercian Abbey in Ireland.  Overnight in Armagh    (B, D)

      DAY 5  - Sunday, May 31


    This morning we will tour the Roman Catholic Cathedral, learning about its impressive architecture and about the recent peace-building  partnership between  it and St. Patrick's Anglican Cathedrals.  We will follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick who, through his creative interpretation of the Christian faith, did much to ignite the flame of Christianity in Ireland. Next we visit the beautiful area of Strangford Lough, including the St. Patrick's Centre,Downpatrick Cathedral, and Saul Church, built in 1932 to commemorate St. Patrick's first church in Ireland.   Overnight in Belfast    (B, D)

    DAY 6 - Monday, June 1


    This morning we will enjoy a scenic drive to the Giant's Causeway on the North Coast, one of the great natural wonders of Ireland and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  After the visit, we will continue our journey through beautiful Northern Ireland, traveling through County Donegal.  Overnight in Sligo Town  (B, D)



    Today we will visit Knock Shrine, one of the world's leading Marian shrines. On August 21, 1879, fifteen people (women, men and children) witnessed an Apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist. In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Knock Shrine.  We will visit the Basilica, the largest church in Ireland, and also visit the museum explaining history of the Apparition.   We will continue to Ballintubber Abbey, originally founded by St. Patrick when he brought Christianity to Ireland in 441 AD. The present Abbey was founded in 1216 by King Cathal O'Conor.  Its faith-filled story offers a powerful and inspiring setting for us to step back from our busy lives and reflect on relationships with family, friends and God.   Overnight in Westport   (B,D)

    DAY 8 - Wednesday, June 3


    This morning we will travel through beautiful Connemara to Kylemore Abbey the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. The community of nuns who have resided here since 1920 have a long history stretching back almost 340 years. We will visit the Abbey, the Gothic Church, the Victorian Walled Gardensthe Craft Shop, Pottery Studio Restaurant and Tea Rooms as well as the Lake and Woodland walks. A section of the Abbey (the enclosure) is retained strictly for the nuns' use and is not open to the public. Here the nuns devote themselves to their monastic life of prayer and work.  We will continue to Clifden where we will attend Mass and meet Br. James Mungovan.   He will give a talk on the history of the Franciscan Monastery that was established in Roundstone in 1835.   We will continue to Roundstone to see the Bell Tower that remains of the Franciscan Monastery in the village. We will continue to Galway. Overnight in Galway   (B,D)

     DAY 9 - Thursday,  June 4


    After breakfast we will take a ferry to the Aran Islands where we visit Dun Aengus, the Iron Age fort built as four concentric stone walls. We then visit Na Seacht dTeampaill, the Seven Churches which make up a monastic settlement dedicated to St. Brecan. Later, we will  meet with Padraigin Clancy, who has lectured extensively and has facilitated retreats and seminars throughout Ireland, appearing frequently on Irish national radio and television with her extensive collection of Irish folklore and cultural history. Next we return to Galway and enjoy dinner in the hotel, followed by Trad on theProm, a contemporary Irish show featuring an electrifying mix of music, song and dance featuring. MairínFahy, who has been the featured soloist with Riverdance since the Company was set up in 1996. She will be joined by Chris Kelly on guitar and Gerard Fahy, who has been the musical director for Michael Flatley in Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames. They will be joined by other extremely talented musicians and award-winning vocalist Seán Costello.   Overnight in Galway   (B, D)

    DAY 10 - FRIDAY, JUNE 5


    This morning before we depart Galway, we will enjoy a 90-minute cruise on board the Corrib Princess.    Passengers will enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and the lake as we cruise River & Lough Corrib. Roisin, the current Irish coffee-making world champion, will give the history of Irish whiskey and show you the art of Irish coffee-making, as well as  teach some Irish dances. We then travel to Kilmacduagh, an old monastic settlement, before continuing to The Burrenin North County Clare. This unique place is like no other in Ireland. There are no bogs and very few pastures; instead there are huge pavements of limestone interspersed with many very rare and protected plant species.  We  then continue to the Cliffs of Moher, which range for 8 kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare, providing spectacular scenic views. We then visit Poulnabrone, an ancient monolithic grave, dating back to about 2500 BC. We will continue on to our hotel in Limerick.   Overnight in Limerick   (B, D)



    Today we will visit Glenstall Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery in County Limerick, home to a community of about 40 monks whose community life of prayer is combined with running a boarding school for boys, a farm, a guesthouse and various other work. A 500-acre estate with streams, lakes and woodland paths surrounds a castle built in the romantic Norman style. The church is a unique sacred space reminding us that monasticism has its roots in the Christian east.  In traditional Byzantine style, it takes the shape of a cross in a square with a central circle surmounted by a dome.  We will meet one of the monks of Glenstall who will tell us the history of the Abbey.  We then continue to Solas Bhride, which means,"Brigid's light/flame." This is a small Christian Centre, which has as its focus St. Brigid and Celtic Spirituality. Here we will meet with one of the Sisters and we will "Walk in the footsteps of St. Brigid," a pilgrim journey to the sites around Kildare Town associated with St. Brigid.   We will continue to Dublin where we will say goodbye to our guide.   Overnight in Dublin   (B,D)


    What's Included
    This Inclusive tour Includes:
    • Roundtrip airfare from Newark;
    • Accommodations for 10 nights in 4-star hotels;
    • Breakfast & dinner daily;
    • Luggage handling-1 suitcase per person;
    • Admission fees as per itinerary;
    • Local guides, scholars & entertainment as per itinerary; and
    • Tips for driver & guides.
    To register for the trip, please mail the Reservation Form from your brochure, along with your deposit and a copy of your passport, or register online at
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