Join Bishop Zinkula on a tour of Ireland


Autumn journey covers the most popular tourist sites

Kylemore Abbey is one stop of The Catholic Messenger Tour of Ireland this fall.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Ireland’s strong Catholic heritage, natural beauty and historic treasures led Bishop Thomas Zinkula to accept The Catholic Messenger’s request to serve as spiritual director on a tour of the “Emerald Isle” this fall. We invite all of our readers to join the tour, Sept. 23-Oct. 1.

“I have never been to Ireland and for many years I have wanted to visit the country,” Bishop Zinkula said. As a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, he planned to take his 2011 sabbatical in Ireland. However, Archbishop Jerome Hanus, O.S.B., who served as the Archbishop of Dubuque at that time, encouraged Father Zinkula to take his sabbatical in Rome.


Travels to other countries provide another opportunity for the bishop to experience the universal Church, which broadens his perspective as he leads the diocesan Church, he believes. “Ireland has a very strong Catholic heritage, and many people immigrated to the United States and contributed a great deal to the Church in the U.S. I am hoping to gain a better understanding of the nature and dynamics of the Irish Catholic culture.”

The Catholic Messenger Tour of Ireland features sites that an Irish native chose for a memorable journey, one that offers the flavor of the historic and contemporary aspects of the country that credits its early Christian roots to St. Patrick. Bishop Zinkula’s interest in monastic sites also influences the itinerary.

“I have spoken with people I know who have been to Ireland, and they have told me that the itinerary for this trip covers the most popular tourist sites,” he said.
The sites:

• County Wicklow. Visit the 6th-century monastic ruins of Glendalough, a settlement that St. Kevin founded. Bishop Zinkula will preside at Mass here. “The county of Wicklow is naturally divided by the granite expanse of the Wicklow Mountains,” according to “West of the mountains, owing in part to its topography and remoteness, there survives a highly scenic natural landscape which contains a wealth of archaeological and historical sites, towns and villages.”

• House of Waterford Crystal. Visit the place that boasts the world’s most famous crystal. Following the visit, Bishop Zinkula will preside at Mass. Then the group travels to Blarney, with an opportunity to climb the battlements of Blarney Castle. Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster, built the third castle on this site in the 15th century, according to the Blarney Castle website. This leg of the tour includes a journey through the rugged countryside of Killarney.

• Dingle Peninsula Drive. National Geographic described the Dingle Peninsula as “the most beautiful place on earth.” The website offers this description: “With every turn leading down meandering country lanes to wild hedgerows, endless skies and cozy thatched pubs, you’ll soon understand why National Geographic approved so much.This is Ireland at its best: all sparkling navy ocean and star-strewn skies – so twinkle filled, in fact, that sprawling Inch Beach on the peninsula’s southern stretch is a known stargazing spot.”Stop for sightseeing and photos. Bishop Zinkula will preside at Mass prior to the visit to the Dingle Peninsula.

• Killarney to Galway. The tour begins with a short ferry ride across the River Shannon Estuary and travels to Galway. Bishop will preside at Mass in the morning. The afternoon will be free for sightseeing. The website describes Galway as “one of the brightest and most intriguing jewels of the West of Ireland. It marks the halfway point on the Wild Atlantic Way….”

• Connemara in County Galway. Travel through the Connemara Region to view the bog lands and misty mountains. offers this description: “located in the rugged west of Ireland, you could think of Connemara as a vault, where Ireland’s treasures are stored safely against the march of time. Passing through the desolate yet beautiful Doo Lough and Delphi Valleys, the landscape tumbles down to the dark waters of Killary Harbour, a stunning fjord framed by olive-coloured mountains.”

The group will stop at Kylemore Abbey for a tour of the mansion and church. Bishop Zinkula will preside at Mass at the abbey.The abbey and surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history, according to the website.The site became home to a community of Benedictine Nuns in 1920 and is treasured as a place of spirituality and education.

• Knock Museum. On the way out of Galway, the group will pass the mountain of Croagh Patrick, a popular place of pilgrimage.Tradition maintains that St. Patrick fasted on the mountain’s summit for 40 days. Croagh Patrick, described as the holiest mountain in Ireland, overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo. “The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption,” according to the Croagh-Patrick visitor center website. Bishop Zinkula will preside at Mass at the Knock Shrine. After Mass, the group will visit the Knock Museum, which documents the history of the Knock Apparition of 1879.

• Dublin highlights. The group will take a guided tour of Dublin, which describes as a “lively capital city that’s as intimate as a village and as friendly as your local Irish pub.” In addition to popular visitor sites, the city features the “natural playgrounds of Dublin Bay and the Dublin Mountains.”
The group will stop at Trinity College where the Book of Kells, the 8th-century illuminated manuscript of the Gospels, is on display.

Join the tour of Ireland

For more information about participating in The Catholic Messenger Tour of Ireland with Bishop Zinkula, contact Susan Stein at (319) 835-9144 Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or by cell phone (407) 353-2698 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Email address is susan@heartbeat and mailing address is P.O. Box 327, Donnellson, Iowa, 52625. Space is limited.

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