The Ring of Kerry

Yesterday we traveled through the Ring of Kerry. This route takes us around the peninsula and is one of the most famous and panoramic routes in Ireland.

We spent quite a bit of time at the Muckross House and Gardens. Muckross House is a mansion designed by the Scottish architect, William Burn, built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert. With sixty-five rooms, it was built in the Tudor style. Extensive improvements were undertaken in the 1850s in preparation for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861. It is said that these improvements for the Queen’s visit were a contributory factor in the financial difficulties suffered by the Herbert family which resulted in the sale of the estate. In 1899 it was bought by Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun who wanted to preserve the dramatic landscape.

     It was bought by a wealthy Californian mining magnate William Bowers Bourn, as a wedding gift for his daughter Maud and her husband Arthur Rose Vincent.

   Killarney National Park was formed principally from a donation of Muckross Estate, which was presented to the state in 1932 by Senator Arthur Vincent and his parents-in-law Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II, in memory of Senator Vincent’s late wife, Maud. The park was substantially expanded by acquisition of land from the former Earl of Kenmare‘s estate. (from Wikipedia)

Most of the people in my group thought the lifestyle of the residents of the Muckross house was way over the top and how easily people who enjoy that lifestyle could lose touch with the common folk who are struggling to feed their families and survive.

Our next stop was to Ross Castle. It was an old castle from the  late 15th century. Most of the building is in ruins but you can get an idea of how large the structure was by walking through the doorway and looking at the structures that are still standing.

We stopped along the way at the Red Fox Inn which is part of the Kerry Bog Museum. We raised a glass of Irish coffee and had a short visit.

We stopped along the way back to Dingle in a few spots for photos. Our last official stop was to the St. Mary’s Killarney Cathedral. St. Mary’s Cathedral (1842-1855) was designed by the renowned English Architect Augustus Welby Pugin and is considered to be one of the most important and best Gothic Revival churches of the nineteenth century in Ireland. The spire and nave were completed by the Irish Architects Ashlin and Coleman of Dublin. The interior decorations were designed by J.J. McCarthy.

The interior was severely damaged when the interior plaster was removed in the 1973 renovation by D.J. Kennedy.

Some people find the nave to be too narrow, but the width of the nave was based on the medieval models to be found throughout Ireland and England. The spire is tall and elegant. The west end is very Irish in character, with three tall lancet windows and a very low entrance door beneath.

The stonework used is an attractive mixture of brown and grey stone. The siting of the church is more like the siting of a priory than the siting of a cathedral, as the cathedral stands in a huge field instead of in the middle of the original settlement of Killarney.

One feature that fascinated me and is typical of the gothic age was seeing gargoyles on the four corners of the base of the spire. I just bought a new camera with a 20x zoom and was able to get a pretty good picture of one of the gargoyles. The use of gargoyles was a bit controversial and the quote below from St. Bernard of Clairvaux obviously shows his objection to their use.

What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters before the eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, these strange savage lions, and monsters? To what purpose are here placed these creatures, half beast, half man, or these spotted tigers? I see several bodies with one head and several heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent’s head, there a fish with a quadruped’s head, then again an animal half horse, half goat… Surely if we do not blush for such absurdities, we should at least regret what we have spent on them.

We arrived back at the hotel a few minutes before dinner.

It is hard to believe we only have one more day left before we begin the journey home. As I mentioned yesterday the trip has been very enjoyable and the rest of the pilgrims seem to be enjoying themselves and no one has gotten sick.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Splendor of God’s Creation

Yesterday we went along the Dingle Peninsula. I was surprised to see so few houses along the way since it is such a beautiful stretch of land. The sheep could be found in abundance and I snapped a shot of a little lamb (probably only a few weeks old) and its mother.

We celebrated Mass in the church of St. Vincent de Paul. That was pretty neat since at least half of the pilgrims belong to St. Vincent de Paul parish in Federal Way. The priest greeted us and gave some history of the parish. When I was getting ready for Mass I asked where the Roman Missal was so that I could set it up. The priest said they only use Gaelic (or Irish as the natives say) for all of the Masses in the parish. Once again the Magnificat came to the rescue!

We got back into town fairly early and had the opportunity to grab a bite to eat and to take some pictures. It started raining but it wasn’t too bad and I had packed my umbrella.

Today we are going to the Killarney and the Ring of Kerry.

It’s hard to believe our journey is winding down to an end. The Irish people are incredibly friendly and hospitable. I can understand why so many authors and poets found refuge in this country and inspiration to write. Maybe a sabbatical someday will bring me back. Who knows!

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

The Greenest Place On Earth

Yesterday we made our way through the Burren Region. The hillsides were incredibly green and there were abundant sheep and cattle. Our bus somehow became fascinated with “white” horses and they began playing some kind of game that reminded me of car bingo when I was a child. I couldn’t here all the conversation because I was seated in the front of the coach.

About midway through the trip we visited the Cliffs of Moher. They are situated on the Atlantic Ocean and border the Burren Area. I spotted a sign offering help and figured it must have been put there for people who were thinking about jumping off the cliffs. You wouldn’t survive any kind of fall from the steep banks and it was a long way down to the rocky shoreline.

We ended our journey at the Dingle Skellig hotel and enjoyed a nice dinner.

Today we will be exploring the Dingle Peninsula. So far the trip has been outstanding. We have a great group of people who are enjoying each other’s company.

I have posted some more photos below from today’s journey to Dingle.

Have a blessed day!

Knock and Kylemore Abbey

After breakfast yesterday we took a two hour trip to Knock and then to Kylemore Abbey. We got an even better idea about what the countryside is like in Ireland and we even had to dodge a few sheep along the way.

Our Lady of Knock is one of the most beloved shrines in Ireland. We got to celebrate Mass yesterday with a number of other English speaking pilgrims in the Chapel of Apparitions. Pope John Paul II visited this shrine in 1979.

Today we will be traveling through the Burren Region to Kerry. We will be journeying  along the coastline and will make a visit to the Cliffs of Moher. This is one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights and my camera battery is fully charged and ready for action!

I was up very early this morning and witnessed a beautiful sunrise. The clouds are beginning to roll in and rain is in the forecast for today.

My dad pointed out we were already halfway done with the trip. It is sure going fast but I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of this pilgrimage. I have been told by a number of people that the Irish people are very friendly. I sure have found this to be true. Yesterday during a coffee break, the café owner came out and asked us where we were from. When I said Seattle she asked if I knew a Fr. Heneghan. I said I did and that he was serving at Sacred Heart parish in Tacoma when I was growing up. This was the church closest to my my grandparent’s house. She said his family home was right across the street. What a small world!

In a few minutes it will be time to load the suitcase and head off for the day. Thanks for stopping by and have a blessed day.


We left Dublin early this morning for Galway. It was great to travel throughout the countryside and see all of the livestock and greenery. Ireland is the 4th largest exporter of beef in the world!

On the way to Galway, we stopped in Ballinasloe to celebrate Mass inside the beautiful church of St. Michael. The acoustics were incredible and it is a very traditional church with beautiful stain glass windows.

Our next stop was to the old church of St. Brendan in Clonfert. It was built in the 13th century and St. Brendan was once buried there.

Inside the church there is a mermaid on the wall. (I immediately thought of the Starbucks logo – probably not the most holy thought to have.)

We then were on our way to Galway where my parents tried to run ahead of everyone else for the famous fish and chips at McDonagh’s restaurant. Unfortunately, my dad took a wrong turn so he wasn’t the first in the door. The verdict, “Wasn’t worth the ten bucks and you had to buy your own tarter sauce.” Keep in mind this is from a man who was excused from a food tasting employment job at WSU. They said no one had the same tastes that he did:)

Tomorrow we are on our way to Knock where I will have the privilege of celebrating a Mass in the “Chapel of Apparitions.”

Have a blessed day and stay away from too much blarney.

Closing Ceremony and Mass – 50th International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin

We attended the closing ceremony and Mass at Croke Park Stadium.

The music was outstanding! Many national artist including the three singing priests shared inspiring messages through the gift of music. The choir and orchestra they had greatly enriched the celebration of Mass. I really enjoyed a song they did in Gealic and was surprised how much Gaelic there was in a lot of the selections. I just assumed it wasn’t used much anymore, but that wasn’t at all true. All of the city and government signs are bi-lingual with English & Gaelic.

I had the privilege of concelebrating Mass with 1,000 other priests and bishops from around the world. I looked for our particular delegation but it was impossible to spot them from the distance where I was at on the ground floor.

A lot of the priests were snapping pictures through the 4.5 hour celebration. I did likewise and have posted some of them after this entry.

We leave very early in the morning for Galway. Everyone was pretty tired from all of the walking and I received a pretty bad sunburn for not bringing suntan lotion, which was of course in my room. With all the overcast skies I didn’t even think to bring it. I would not at all be offended if someone approached me and said I looked like a cooked lobster.

I will check in tomorrow after our visit to Galway. Thanks again for all your prayers. Things are going very smoothly and our tour guide said we were a really laid back group. We’ll see if that lasts by the end of the week:)


We’ve Landed in Dublin!

We landed a couple of hours later than scheduled this morning in Dublin. It was a long flight and the seating was incredibly tight on the trip from Seattle to Newark. I have never been in such a cramped space before on an airplane. It seems United and other airlines have shifted their seating configuration in the hopes that you will “upgrade” and pay more for a little more room in their “economy plus” section of the plane.

I was quite tired as I hadn’t gone to bed following a very busy Wednesday with 4 Masses including our 8th grade graduation.

The leg from Newark to Dublin was over 6 hours long and I wound up playing Solitaire for most of the time. This killed a lot of time and every now and then I got so tired my arm would drop off the monitor and nearly hit my mom in the knee. (She was sitting next to me.) Still, I didn’t watch any movies and only listened to music for about 5 minutes. Let’s just say that I’m not the worst at solitaire but I am also far from being a a champion.

As soon as we got into the airport and through customs, we toured downtown Dublin. It is a very attractive and clean city with lots of history. We went to see the Book of Kells which was extremely popular and well-attended. This display is at Trinity College, the oldest university in Ireland. It was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth 1st on the grounds of the confiscated Augustinian priory. According to our tour guide it was “built to further the education of the ruling Anglo-Irish families. Restrictions were imposed to prevent Catholics from attending courses and these restrictions were not fully lifted until the late 1970’s.” I was saddened to read that. I thought we had come along a little bit further with ecumenism.

I wound up not spending a lot of time in the display because there were so many people pushing and shoving. Adding that to the sleep deprivation made me seek out a quite place. I met up with my parents who had a similar experience. About half an hour later we departed for our motel. Most of the pilgrims were sleeping on the bus so we decided to take the afternoon off to rest up. Tomorrow will be a busy day with workshops and activities at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.

We all got our “pilgrim” package from the company sponsoring the Congress and mine came with a nice stole which I will use tomorrow when celebrating Mass.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers while we are away. The Irish are very friendly and welcoming. I just need to get use to looking both ways before crossing the street and realizing things are different here since they drive on the other side of the road. Notice how I am being very diplomatic and not saying the “wrong” side of the road:)

I hope all is going well for you and your family. I’ll make another blog entry at the end of the day.