The retreat is designed for those who wish to explore memoir writing while held in the beauty and magic of the West of Ireland ~ a land whose people respect and embrace their rich literary tradition.
If you are drawn to immersing yourself in local culture, unpacking once and nesting in a home base, blending daily excursions in the gorgeous County Mayo landscape with guided reflection and intimate conversation, and sharing your writing with a small group of like-minded writers, Memoir Tours: Ireland is for you.
Unlike writing retreats that rely on writing prompts and group feedback to inform your writing, our approach draws its strength from working one-on-one with a supportive mentor, letting the land, the people and the events of the day spur your creativity, and allowing yourself to be open to what your life experience has to say.
If you are looking for a retreat that relies on writing prompts to get you writing, this may not be the right setting for you. On the other hand, this may be just the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to explore writing from a different perspective.
While our focus is memoir writing, if you are writing in another genre, or you are just beginning to explore writing, you are very welcome and our staff will help you find your next steps.
To create the intimate writing experience we value, space is limited to 15 participants.
While we have a carefully planned schedule and every detail tended to, there is a bit of magic that happens when a group comes together. We like to leave room to follow the thread of conversation and connection. Also, the unpredictability of weather in the West of Ireland requires that we take advantage of sun breaks or avoid being caught in a downpour. For these reasons, we intentionally do not publish a full itinerary.
Each night, we announce with great fanfare the next day’s plans— among those plans are stunning and sacred destinations including Rosserk Abbey, Mary’s Well, Bartragh Island, the Ceide Fields and Downpatrick Head. And, yes, there is daily designated writing time.
A typical Memoir Tours: Ireland Day begins with a self-prepared breakfast in your cozy cottage. We provide everything you need—brown bread, jam, butter, rashers, fresh eggs, porridge, fruit, tea, and coffee—to set your day off to a fine beginning. Before we embark on the day’s adventure, there is the opportunity to participate in a yoga class or meditation circle. Each day offers time for writing and reflection ~ blended with time “awakening the muse” as we walk and feel the fresh Irish breeze off the Atlantic. You can choose to keep writing if you’re on a roll and would prefer to stay behind. Guest authors/presenters are scheduled throughout the ten days.
Depending on activities planned, we may lunch together in the main cottage or grab prepared picnic baskets as we head out the door.
From here, each day takes on a different flavor: some evenings may find you kicking up your heels at a local pub music session, feasting together on locally-catered or foraged foods, or retreating to your cottage fire for quiet reflection, writing and perhaps a sip of Irish whiskey.
The weather varies from blue skies, billowy clouds and soft breezes with temperatures in the mid-sixties to sudden blustery showers and sweater weather…followed by a rainbow. One thing is certain: it will rain. And chances are very good that we will be caught in the rain at some point. Layers and rain gear are essential.
The hiking varies in intensity from ambling through parks and villages to hikes across uneven terrain—fields, stone walkways, beach sands or gentle hills. Walks vary in length from one to three miles. If you are healthy and able to walk two to three miles comfortably, you should be able for the walking required. Many of the walks can be modified to suit your own comfort. You always have the option to sit out a hike or only go as far as you feel comfortable.
Of course! It’s easy to plan additional days in Dublin. If you’d like to travel to other wonderful sites in Ireland, you have the opportunity to rent a car in Dublin. Hertz, Avis/Budget, are located near Heuston Station. We are happy to share our knowledge of places, lodging, and restaurants in the West of Ireland.
On the flip side, you can also plan to add additional days exploring Ireland before the tour begins. As long as you’re at the Ballina train station on the designated day and time, you’re good to go.
We always recommend arriving in Dublin at least one day prior to boarding the train to meet us in Ballina. This allows you time to rest after your flight, explore the city and arrive in Ballina ready to write.
Best Dressed is not among the awards we present at the end of the trip. You will be happier if you carry as little luggage as possible. Combination washing machines/dryers are available in the cottages.
Plan around the principle of layering (lightweight cottons, fleece, shirt, sweater or down vest, rainproof windbreaker) so you can adjust for comfort. On the walks you should be prepared for chilly and wet conditions. Here are some basics to consider:
Outdoor pants (waterproof /water resistant)
Walking or running shoes
Lightweight hiking boots (optional)
Warm long sleeved sweater
Toiletries and toilet bag
Prescription drugs and personal first aid (include motion sickness medication if sensitive)
Camera gear, journals, etc.
Irish currency is the Euro. We recommend bringing about $45 per day as a minimum for a meal and drinks. More is needed if you wish to buy local crafts or if your appetites extend to the gourmet.
Each participant needs a valid passport. Please double check the expiration date on your existing passport. Apply for or renew a passport here.
It’s a trade off. Sometimes we find a place off the beaten path that only accepts cash. With credit cards there are the fees— exchange rates and transaction fees. It’s about personal preference.
For cash, making an initial large transaction at the Dublin Airport ATM upon arrival minimizes bank transaction fees and simplifies most purchases. You can also replenish your cash from local ATM’s as needed— there are two ATM’s in Killala, but no bank. Know your cash withdrawal daily limit. If it’s too low, arrange to up the limit.
If planning to use credit cards, we recommend notifying your bank and credit card company ahead of time. Share your plans to travel, where you’ll be and the dates of your trip. Ask about the fees you will be assessed when making a credit card transaction or an ATM cash withdrawal.
We advise you to cover yourself for baggage, accident and trip cancellation insurance. Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended to protect you in case of last-minute illness or injury, which might cause you to lose your deposits.
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Bring traditional Irish recipes to your table.