The Voices of Ireland with Virginia Schenck, vocal artist

A Singing Journey through the Sacred Sites and Voices of Ireland October 21 - 29, 2016

Join vocal artist Virginia Schenck, with special guest Nóirín Ní Riain, Ireland’s acclaimed spiritual singer, to explore the voices, sounds, and sacred sites of Ireland. All singers welcome!

“We were born before the wind...” ~ Van Morrison. Our Sacred Earth holds many traditional forms and expressions of music that arise from her core and people. Few are more alluring and enduring than the Voices of Ireland. Celtic tradition views culture close to the earth and her elements, rising in rituals of places like the neolithic Newgrange, Kildare with Brigid’s sacred fire, the music-infused County Cork, and the traditions of the Aran Islands. From Sean-nós singing to the Gregorian chant of the monks of Glenstal Abbey, from ritual chants to pub music, we will listen, explore, and sing ourselves in this spiritual and mystical, music-filled land. READ MORE

Tour Leader Virginia Schenck

Virginia Schenck, VA, is an accomplished international jazz vocalist, vocal artist, and retreat leader who takes listeners on a pilgrimage with music that is both authentic and soul-inspiring. 


Virginia's itinerary was packed with a blend of history, spirituality, and discovery. An unforgettable spiritual journey, perfect in every way! I am so grateful to have been one of the pilgrims.Elaine Johnson, Dothan, AL


Virginia and Noirin helped us all feel so comfortable finding our true authentic voices. There was a strong sense of acceptance and love.Joy Kaminski, East Rochester, NY


Tour Description

Let Ireland inspire you, listening and learning from her indigenous voices and exploring and joining with our own voices in this mystical, music-filled land. From the iconic neolithic and Celtic site of Newgrange, the hills of Slane and Tara, the Aran Islands, Cork’s Blarney Castle to the hidden gems of Glenstal Abbey and Lough Gur’s largest stone circle, listen and sing. Learning traditional sean-nos songs, ritual songs, chants, and vocal exploration and improvisation, let Ireland inspire you and your voice to a richer relationship with your own sacredness and that of Sacred Earth.

Virginia Schenck vocal artist
Virginia Schenck, VA, leading a singing session

Newgrange, older than the pyramids of Egypt or Stonehenge, is host to the winter’s solstice where the sun’s rays shoot through its east-west openings. The Brú na Bóinne complex includes similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth. Imagine the high kings and St. Patrick meeting on the hills of Slane and Tara, the quest for the Arc of the Covenant, the giving of the spiritual symbol of the shamrock. Experience the land and monuments and have the opportunity to resonate and respond vocally.

Goddess, later sainted Brigid, healer, caretaker for the Earth, prophetess and peacemaker, kept an eternal flame burning in Celtic tradition. Extinguished for many years, the Brigidine sisters of Kildare have reignited the sacred fire. Visit this sacred site where rituals and ceremonies continue to burn brightly.

glenstal abbey ireland
Beautiful Glenstal Abbey in Ireland

Glenstal Abbey, home to Benedictine monks, and our special guest, Ireland’s legendary Irish spiritual singer and theologian, Nóirín Ní Riain. Sinead O’Connor claims “she is my biggest influence and heroine in music.” Anjelica Huston dubs her the “High Priestess of Gregorian chant.” Enjoy in concert and learn in special workshops from the foremost holder of all of Ireland’s musical traditions: sean-nos, Gregorian chant, chants, and ritual singing.

Lough Gur is the largest circle of stones in the British Isles, dating to 4000 BC. Engage in an acoustic ritual discovering the acoustic sweet spot in the Stone Circle in the oldest inhabited site in Ireland and a private tour of these historic grounds with Nóirín and Lough Gur’s director.

Ireland’s Aran Islands boast some of the oldest fortresses and holders of Celtic traditions. In a day journey by boat, experience this hallowed place and walk her grounds. Roam the rugged landscape of this breathtaking island with the Dun Aengus Fort cliffside and beehive huts.

Inishmore Ireland
The stunning cliffs of Inishmore on the Aran Islands

County Cork is ripe with traditional Irish music in its folk tradition. Kiss the stone at Blarney Castle and receive the power of eloquence – imperative for all singers! Discover the mystery of the Fairy Ring, as we sing in the castle gardens. In Cork, discover your voice among the sound of the Shandon Bells in St. Anne’s Cathedral.

Our Voices are our own sacred cairns. Join us on this journey discovering your Voice of Ireland!

Singing Notes

* Singers need not read music.  A must ~ willingness for deep listening within, vocal play and exploration, and a sense of adventure!

Ireland’s music tradition and her people have continued to enthuse and inspire us with passion and magic. Muses always at play, listen closely, you may be surprised by what you hear in the air or in your own heart.

The voice, our first instrument, is always with us, and we have access to it at every moment. Indigenous cultures remind us, music is and should be a part of our every day lives from routines and rituals to celebrations.

singing in Ireland
A singing session with Virginia Schenck, VA

Digging deep within history, time and place, embracing, learning, and creating anew, may we bring our best voices forward. In this way, we make every moment Sacred. Every song is Sacred, every moment Sacred. Listen, and listen deeply, we will. Silence is as much a part of music as the notes and sounds themselves. The inner singing must come out for our health’s sake. Then there are the sounds around us of our environment, our families, friends, neighbours. Listening both within and without, we will invite the sounds of Ireland to inspire us.

Daily singing sessions will allow opportunity for our voices to connect us more deeply with our body, mind, spirit, and each other. Group chants, song circles, and improvisatory exercises will assist us to explore in a circle of wonder and play, with emphasis on listening and responding to our hearts in this glorious ancient and magical land.

Seize this opportunity to stretch your creative self and sensibilities while learning traditional Irish songs, ritual chants, and customs!

BlesSings ~ VA

Special Guest: Nóirín Ní Riain

Noirin Ni Riain
Acclaimed spiritual singer Nóirín Ní Riain

Nóirín Ní Riain, PhD is an acclaimed spiritual singer who has shared the stage with internationally known musicians and lecturers, and has introduced the Dalai Lama at official occasions in Ireland and elsewhere. A theologian, musicologist, recording artist and writer, who was awarded the first doctorate in theology from the University of Limerick, she has written several books including Listen with the Ear of the Heart: An Autobiography and Theosony: Towards a Theology of Listening. The subject of a major documentary by RTE (Irish television), Nóirín lived for many years at the Benedictine monastery of Glenstal Abbey.

Arriving at Dublin airport, we will be met by our driver, guide, and group, and from there will enjoy a short tour of Dublin by coach.

We begin our journey at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland, where writer and satirist, Jonathan Swift, was elected Dean in 1713, and was later buried. On this site in 450AD it is held that Saint Patrick baptized people into Christianity, and the current building we enjoy today was constructed on the site in 1220–1260. Music has always been an important part of Cathedral life: Henri de Londres (consecrated Archbishop of Dublin in 1213) created a college of sixteen vicars choral who lived within the precincts of the cathedral and in 1742 the combined choirs of Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedrals sang the first performance of Handel’s oratorio Messiah. Listening and drinking the Cathedral’s history in, we begin to grasp the immensity of Ireland’s traditions and expressions of Spirit. 

Taking in the spectrum of music Ireland offers we then move to listen to some Irish music at O’Donoghues Bar, famous for its traditional Irish music, and especially for the band The Dubliners, who made a name for themselves here. The real deal.  

This evening we gather for an early group Welcome Dinner at our hotel to get to know our fellow travellers and tour leader.  
(Overnight at Bellinter House, Navan, Co. Meath or similar)   

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Jean Housen

St Patrick's cathedral dublin

After breakfast, and a good rest, we begin mid to late morning with our first group gathering and singing session in a private space at our hotel. Here we begin to create our own sacred circle, exploring our voices, learning, and sharing together. There will also be time to walk the grounds along the River Boyne and truly arrive.

Afternoon activities include a trip to the Hills of Tara and Slane. Tara was once the residence of The High Kings of Ireland, and the political and religious centre of Ireland. At the Hill of Slane, tradition holds that Patrick lit the Christian Easter’s First-Fire challenging the High King’s Beltane First-Fire. Visiting this historic centre, we will take this experience in to our singing circle.
(Overnight at Bellinter House, Navan, Co. Meath or similar)   

Virginia Schenck vocal artist

Today, we visit the three Megalithic Passage Tombs at Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site. Newgrange, the largest and oldest – older than Stonehenge or the Great Pyramids of Giza – is known for its illumination at the Winter Solstice sunrise, where a shaft of light illuminates the inner chamber. The Great Mound at Knowth and Dowth are similar in structure and size, each with passageways to explore. Dowth, known for its orientation at the Spring Equinox, will provide an opportunity for a singing session among these ancient sacred sites.
(Overnight at Bellinter House, Navan, Co. Meath or similar)   


Newgrange sacred site Ireland

This morning, we visit the Sacred Fire of the goddess St. Brigid (or St. Brigit as she is sometimes known) in County Kildare. Healer, poet, and once the Abbess for a monastery of both men and women, we will focus on the power of Brigid, the Divine Feminine, and our own inner Sacred Fire. 

In the afternoon, we travel to our hotel, where we will first meet and then have a private afternoon concert by our special guest, Nóirín Ní Riain, who is said to have the voice of a Byzantine angel.
(Overnight at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare or similar)

Singer Noirin Ni Riain

This morning, we meet Nóirín at Lough Gur with its Stone circle, the largest in the British Isles, dating from 4000 BC. Nóirín will lead us in a traditional ritual using songs and chants. We will experience the marvellous acoustics and discover the sweet spot within the Stone Circle. Lough Gur’s director will treat us to a private tour of the centre and grounds.

In the afternoon, we meet up with Nóirín at Glenstal Abbey, where she lives with this progressive community of Benedictine monks. Progressive in their stance on protecting the environment, geothermal heating from their lakes, and being the first to allow a woman, Nóirín, to sing Gregorian Chant with them. Glenstal Abbey comprises over 400 acres of streams, lakes, and woodland gardens as well as its Norman style castle.
We will have an afternoon singing session at the Abbey with Nóirín, learning everything from ritual chants, sean-nos singing, to the tradition of keening, the sonic grieving for the dead. Our sessions here include both lectures and singing.
(Overnight at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare or similar)

Photo: Lough Gur Heritage Centre

Lough Gur Ireland

This day we will spend entirely at Glenstal Abbey with Nóirín Ní Riain.

Monks have been chanting the ritual of the hours to glorify God for centuries. Singers will have the opportunity to attend any of these as desired: Morning Office: 6.35am; Eucharist: 12.10pm; Vespers: 6pm; Night Prayer/Compline: 8.35pm.

We will have morning and afternoon sessions here with Nóirín. Lunch will be taken at the abbey, as we fully immerse ourselves in this tradition. Throughout the day we will have the opportunity to also explore the picturesque and mystical grounds of the 400-acre Abbey, including the old Mass Rock in the Glen, the Biblical Garden, and the primeval oak forest, in addition to the fabulous collection of Black Madonnas and religious icons.
(Overnight at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare or similar)

Glenstal Abbey in Ireland

Today takes us to the largest of the three Aran Islands, Inishmore, travelling by ferry. Perched at the edge of Ireland’s western waters, glittering on the horizon of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands have a weathered history and rugged landscape which folds together ancient and modern in three green, stone walled jewels of land. A local islander will take us on a tour of this breathtaking Island. We will visit Dun Aengus Fort, the 2500-year-old fort standing 300ft above a most beautiful cliff side. Imagine what our voices will sound like now?!
Enjoy lunch (at own expense) and some free time to wander the Island before transferring back to the ferry port. Back on land, we will have the opportunity to hear more traditional Irish Music for which Doolin is renowned at Gus O’Connors Pub.
(Overnight at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare or similar)

Inishmore in Ireland

This morning we visit the legendary 15th century Blarney Castle, famous for its Blarney Stone, which is traditionally believed to have the power to bestow eloquence on all those who kiss it, a singer’s must! “Blarney” itself is said to mean “pleasant talk, intending to deceive without offending”. In the gardens lies a Fairy Ring where we will have a chance to sing and perhaps try our eloquence!

We travel on to Cork City for lunch (at own expense) and to enjoy some time at leisure absorbing the sites of the city. Take a stroll through the beautiful English Market, pre-dating many others of its kind. We will gather to hear one of the great institutions of Cork, the Shandon Bells in St. Anne’s Cathedral. We will have the opportunity to visit and ring the bells ourselves, and discover how our voices might blend here.

This evening we will enjoy a group dinner together in Kinsale, known as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland, at the historic An Seanachai pub. The pub is famous for its live music and "ceoil agus craic" - a fitting way to bid a fond farewell to Ireland!  
(Overnight at the Trident hotel in Kinsale or similar)

Blarney Castle

After breakfast this morning, we will be driven by coach to Shannon Airport for onward flights home.   

(B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner)
Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to conditions beyond our control.


Virginia Schenck singing

The Voices of Ireland with Virginia Schenck, vocal artist

Tour Includes:

  • 8 nights accommodation at 4 star hotels, or similar
  • Full Irish breakfast daily, 1 lunch (at Glenstal Abbey)
  • Welcome Dinner at Bellinter House Hotel
  • Farewell Dinner at An Seanachai pub in Kinsale 
  • Private coach transportation to all sites on itinerary
  • Local guide services
  • Entrance fees to all sites as per itinerary
  • Ferry to/from Aran Islands


Added Features:

  • Travel with renowned vocal artist Virginia Schenck
  • Daily singing sessions with Virginia 
  • Private concert by Nóirín Ní Riain
  • Special singing sessions at Glenstal Abbey with Nóirín Ní Riain
  • Travel with a like-minded group of singers

Tour Does Not Include:

  • Airfare to Dublin and return from Shannon, Ireland
  • Gratuities for driver, guide
  • Cancellation & Medical Insurance (ask us for a quote)
  • Meals and drinks not specified
  • Cost to obtain valid passport
  • Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls
  • Any item that is not specifically detailed on our website or in the final retreat itinerary

Tour Price:

    • Double Room: USD $3,350 per person
    • Single Supplement: USD $750
Book this Journey
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1-877-874-7922 to help you make your reservation

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