Press

Overview

Ireland captured Barb Robitaille and Craig Stewart’s hearts many years ago. Experiencing the power of this magical country, they became determined to share it with others.

Barb and Craig founded Memoir Tours to provide a deeper travel experience in Ireland and discovered in the process that Killala is an ideal setting for a memoir writing retreat.

Memoir Tours offers ten days for small, intimate groups to immerse themselves in their writing. Guests practice the art of slowing down and living fully engaged while being inspired by the beautiful Irish countryside and receiving guidance and support in accessing and writing memoir.

Located in the heart of Ireland, County Mayo is an undiscovered paradise and the perfect destination for this rich experience.

 

Destinations

Rosserk Abbey: One of the finest and best-preserved Franciscan friaries in Ireland. Located on the banks of the River Moy, Rosserk Abbey commands a presence, centuries after the construction of its arched thresholds.

Cong : home to Ashford Castle, built by the Guinness family, and setting for the acclaimed movie, The Quiet Man. Cong sits on the borders of Counties Mayo and Galway and is surrounded by water and waterways.

Ross Beach:  a Blue Flag beach, this is where we catch the freshest breezes off the Atlantic, our footsteps are often the only ones we see. A perfect place to clear the inner cobwebs before putting pen to paper, Ross Beach is our go-to morning walk.

Downpatrick Head : a few miles north of Ballycastle is the dramatic and historically significant limestone outcropping, just offshore on a remote section of the Wild Atlantic Way. Downpatrick Head ranks high on the top ten list of “must see” places to visit in Ireland.

Foxford Woollen Mills:  Truth to tell, this is one of our favorite places to take you. With a rich history as vibrant as its woolen blankets, sweaters, and scarves, Foxford offers the ultimate Irish shopping stop.

Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths: After a long stretch of writing, a soothing seaweed bath will take the kinks out of your shoulders and neck, relax you, revive you and inspire you to write about things you’ve always wondered about, but have yet to experience.

Retreat

Participants explore a variety of practices throughout their memoir writing with Memoir Tours. Inspiring your writing is at the heart of it all. Offerings include:

  • Tutoring sessions with professional writers and editors
  • Presentations by published authors
  • Daily writing sessions
  • Storytelling and readings before the turf fire
  • Awakening the muse through walks along the Wild Atlantic Way
  • Guided meditation
  • Morning yoga

Special guests join Memoir Tours bringing new thoughts and perspectives to the group.

Guests include:

  • Kate Kerrigan, author, editor, columnist and presenter
  • Helen Falconer, author, editor  
  • Kathleen Duffy, author, dream therapist
  • Stephen Dunford, author, historian, and award‐winning radio and TV producer
  • Denis Quinn, naturalist and guide
  • Una Morris, artist, teacher

 

 

Bios

Barb Robitaille, Host

During my first trip to Ireland in 1999, I felt the deep connection of being called home. I’ve gone back regularly ever since coordinating tours and retreats as well as exploring new places to add to the “must see’s”.

In my current practice as a personal coach, I support people in accepting responsibility for their choices and taking back creative control of their life ~ seeing change as a gift and opportunity to create a life of meaning and purpose. I draw from a deep reservoir of understanding, intuition, and experience.   Barb Robitaille

A former bookstore manager, and author’s assistant, I’ve loved books since I was old enough to write my name on a library card; I always have a book in hand. As a writer, Ireland’s soft air, peat fires, and holy wells inspire me like no other place I’ve known.

I bring to Memoir Tours a combination of my love of the Irish landscape, people, and language, with my experience in leading people on their inner journey ~ while being held in Ireland’s embrace.

 

Craig Stewart, Host

I write songs and stories and work behind the page as a copy editor and ghostwriter. I treasure writing and receiving handwritten letters.

Having worked with Barbara on multiple trips to the West of Ireland, I take immense pleasure in sharing with our guests the magnificent landscapes, and wealth of culture. On the Memoir Tours, I handle logistics, ensuring you are comfortable, relaxed, and have the creature comforts you need to support your writing. From beginning the day with a song to guiding guests to traditional music sessions in Killala, I help you experience the Irish music that moves heart and soul.

Music has been an integral part of my life; I was an elementary school teacher for more than twenty years, during which time singing with students received equal billing alongside fractions and long division.

 

Testimonials

“Both of you have an extraordinary ability to lead groups…”
~ Mark Slegers

“Working with Barbara was one the best decisions I made for my spiritual growth and well‐being. She’s like a guardian angel to me, I know she always has my back.”
~ Paula Austin

“Craig is an incredible person. His humor, undying positivity, and enthusiasm for all things and people make him a serious asset.”
~ Stacey Sowder

“Working with Barbara is an absolute joy. She has helped me to examine what is true in my life and what simple, everyday techniques I can use to live from these truths.”
~ Reece Marshburn

“Working with Craig for just a short time had a huge impact on my future outlook.”
~ Jim Redbird

Quick Facts

Founders : Barbara Robitaille and Craig Stewart
Home base :  Mill Creek, WA
Destination : County Mayo, Ireland
Year launched : 2015
Trip length : 10 days
Group size : 15 guests

Surprising fact : Barbara and Craig, both native to the Pacific Northwest, first met in Ireland and were surprised to learn they lived only a few hours apart.

Collectively, Barbara and Craig have :
● Traveled to 20 countries
● Made 18 trips to Ireland
● Guided 10 tours
● Led 9 retreats

Favorite Irish quotes :

“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, The foresight to know where you’re going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far.” ~ Irish blessing

“May those who love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles.
So we’ll know them by their limping.” ~ Irish saying

A Day with Memoir Tours: Sample Itinerary

Memoir Tours offers daily inspiration to awaken the writing muse through author presentations, dedicated writing time, individual tutoring sessions, readings, and excursions into the lovely County Mayo countryside. What follows is a sample of what one can expect on Memoir Tours.

Starting the Day

Guests are greeted each day with a loaf of fresh brown bread and a smile. There’s plenty of time to enjoy the morning, taking a stroll through the village or out along the pier; or perhaps a bit of reading or writing in front of the fire with the first cup of tea or coffee.

9:00am: Meditation or Yoga session (optional)

10:00am: Morning Notes

Depending on the day’s events, the opening session could include a reading, some music, or a brief centering meditation led by Barb allowing for a transition into the morning talk, featuring Kate Kerrigan, author of The Ellis Island Trilogy. Kate talks about the writing process, accessing creativity and diving into memoir.

12:30pm: Lunch with Presenter

Kate joins the group for lunch at the cottages. After closing words by the author, guests have several hours of free time to do exactly as they desire—a nap, tea, and conversation by their cottage fire, writing, allowing the experience of the morning session to settle within.

3:00pm: Afternoon Exploration

A walk along Ross Strand is offered as an optional outing. Guests spend the afternoon on one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland located in the historic village of Killala. Walking along the white sandy shores, the elements of water, air, earth and hopefully fire~if the sun shines~surround the group and support guests in connecting to their muse.

8:00: Fireside Reading

Home again and guests are on their own for the evening for dinner in their cottage or perhaps with friends at a local pub. A post-dinner traditional Irish session awaits those interested in hearing local musicians. Craig accompanies guests—and perhaps joins in the session.

Closing the Day

Barb closes the evening with an announcement on the next day’s adventure~which may lead to sweet dreams and writing breakthroughs, visions of tea and scones, castles, holy wells, smiling saints, or buying finery from a world‐renowned artisan.