Bishop Zinkula invites you on a pilgrimage to Ireland: Late summer journey combines faith, history and sightseeing

Kylemore Abbey monastery is one of the sites that is part of a pilgrimage trip to Ireland this summer, sponsored by The Catholic Messenger.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Bishop Zinkula

Bishop Thomas Zinkula is making a pilgrimage to Ireland later this summer and welcomes all who are interested in joining him on The Cath­olic Mess­en­ger’s Faith of the Irish” pilgrimage Aug. 31-Sept. 9. He will serve as the pilgrimage spiritual leader.

“I have never been to Ireland and for many years I have wanted to visit the country,” Bishop Zinkula said. 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 from Ireland 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 Irish Catholic culture.”


Major sites along the pilgrimage include Dublin, Armagh, the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, the Holy Mountain of Croagh Patrick, the Cliffs of Moher and the Blarney Stone, among other fascinating sites.

“One point worthy of emphasis is the strong ties between Iowa and Ireland,” says Tim Walch, author of “Irish Iowa” (2019), and a member of the Messenger’s Board of Directors. “This pilgrimage will be an opportunity for some Messenger readers to find and refresh both their cultural and their spiritual roots.”

He is especially pleased that the travelers will receive a guided tour of Dublin with a special visit to the library of Trinity College. “The library is often referred to as Ireland’s ‘front room’ — the location of the ninth century manuscript known as the Book of Kells. Tour visitors will be able to see but not touch, some of the pages of this extraordinary manuscript.”

Select International Tours, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, is organizing the pilgrimage. The company, which offers faith-based group travel programs, organized the Messenger’s first pilgrimage in 2016 to Rome and Assisi. Pilgrims had the privilege of attending the canonization Mass for St. Teresa of Kolkata. The tour company has created an itinerary that balances the sacred and the secular, scenery and companionship on our pilgrim journey. We will visit:

Sept. 1: Dublin, “The Fair City.” Our day starts with morning Mass at St. Mary Pro-Cathedral, followed by a panoramic bus tour of Dublin, including stops at St. Patrick Cathedral (Church of Ire­land) and Trinity College, established by Henry VIII to nurture the New Faith (Protestantism), while Catholicism was outlawed for more than 300 years. We will see the famous Book of Kells displayed at the college. Next stop is the Guinness Brewery for a taste of the famous ale.

Sept. 2: St. Patrick’s country, Armagh. Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital, Armagh, is home to two cathedrals named after St. Patrick. We celebrate Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, followed by Holy Hour. Our travels take us through St. Patrick’s country to Downpatrick. According to tradition, St. Patrick was buried in 461 on Cathedral Hill within the grounds of Down Cathedral. We will visit the museum dedicated to St. Patrick and see his burial site.

Sept. 3: Father Peyton Family Rosary Center and Shrine of Our Lady of Knock. The rosary center is home of the founder of the global Family Rosary Crusade. Then we visit Knock Shrine, one of the world’s leading Marian shrines. We celebrate Mass, and visit the basilica, the largest church in Ireland. Knock is a popular pilgrimage destination. St. John Paul II visited in 1979.

St. Patrick Cathedral in Dublin is one of several stops on a trip to Ireland, sponsored by The Catholic Messenger.

Sept. 4: Croagh Patrick, Kylemore Abbey, Galway. We stop first at the Holy Mountain of Croagh Patrick where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days. We take in the scenery on our travels from Connemara to Kylemore Abbey, where we celebrate Mass. Then we head to Galway where many of the pubs serve great food accompanied by Irish music.

Sept. 5: Galway, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher. We travel along the coastline toward the famous Cliffs of Moher. Along the way, we stop to visit an authentic Irish farm where pilgrims glimpse this important part of Irish industry (including a scone-making demonstration at the farmhouse). Then we travel through the ancient burial grounds and unique countryside of the Burren before arriving at the Cliffs of Moher, where we will have time to hike along the cliff trails, relax, read poetry, etc. We stop at one of the many St. Brigid’s Wells, located throughout Ireland for an outdoor Mass (weather permitting).

Sept. 6: Cobh, Jameson’s, Cork. Our first stop is Cobh, which boasts among the most spectacular vistas in Ireland. We will visit the Cobh Heritage Center, which tells the story of the more than 2 million immigrants who departed from Cobh Harbor to foreign lands. Cobh was also the last port of call for the Titanic before it sank. We will stop by the Jameson Irish whiskey distillery and, in the evening, visit the historic seaport town of Cork.

Sept. 7: Blarney, Rock of Cashel, Kildare. We will visit Blarney Castle, where the famous Blarney Stone is located. The Woollen Mills next door offers shopping for traditional Irish gifts. We continue our drive to the “Rock of Cashel” to see the ruins of a magnificent, medieval romantic site. Our next stop is the Holy Cross Abbey to celebrate Mass. Our day ends in Kildare where we visit St. Brigid’s Cathedral and the Round Tower.

Sept. 8: Glendalough, Dublin. We will drive from Kildare to Glendalough. This ancient monastic city, established in the 6th-century by St. Kevin, is in the heart of “the valley of the two lakes.” It was an important center of learning as well as a pilgrimage destination. We will take a guided tour of the site to see the Round Tower, the ruins of the cathedral, and “St. Kevin’s Kitchen,” surrounded by an old cemetery. In time, this community became a great center of learning known as “Rome of the West.” We will celebrate Mass at St. Joseph Church.

Join the pilgrimage
The Catholic Messenger’s “Faith of the Irish” pilgrimage is scheduled Aug. 31-Sept. 9.

Contact Select International Tours at (800) 842-4842 or to learn details about the trip and cost. Also, visit the website at On the main page, find the phrase “Find your trip” and type in Bishop Thomas Zinkula. That will take you to our pilgrimage brochure, with the opportunity to register.

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