Summer 2020 Retreats

You’re invited to join us on a journey of hope, healing, creativity and community. Staying in historic restored rural accommodation including cottages in exquisite natural surroundings, with a group of friends old and new, enjoying the landscape on amazing walks, hearing music and story, meeting locals, experiencing the peace process in encountering people directly involved in activism and change, and getting to know the culture of northern Ireland, immersed in Celtic culture ancient and new. Good food, inspiring art, and beautiful journeys on foot will form the heart of this soulfully unique and transforming experience. Led by warm-hearted and thoughtful guides including northern Irish writer and peace activist Gareth Higgins, this will be an eight day experience - for 25 guests only - that might just last for the rest of your life.

2020 Retreats

June 17-25 with Irish Storyteller Gareth Higgins and Beloved Author Kathleen Norris

The trip takes place June 17-25. We recommend arriving June 16, flying into Belfast or Dublin (often much less expensive than Belfast); the retreat ends in time to return to the US by the evening of June 25, although many of our previous guests have extended their stay in Ireland - we're happy to advise on itinerary.

May 31-June 8 with Peacemakers, Poets, Storytellers, and You, Hosted by Irish Storyteller Gareth Higgins

The trip takes place May 31-June 8. We recommend arriving May 30, flying into Belfast or Dublin (often much less expensive than Belfast); the retreat ends in time to return to the US by the evening of June 8th, although many of our previous guests have extended their stay in Ireland - we're happy to advise on itinerary.


Gareth Higgins, Ph.D. is a writer, storyteller, and community leader who grew up near Belfast during the northern Ireland Troubles, and now lives in North Carolina. Author of How Movies Helped Save My Soul, Cinematic States: A Journey Through the American Dreamlife, and co-author of Religion, Civil Society and Peace in Northern Ireland, he writes and speaks about connection to the earth, cinema and the power of dreams, peace and making justice, and how to take life seriously without believing your own propaganda. He was co-founder of the Wild Goose Festival, The Porch Magazine, and, he's happy to be a work in progress. He leads trips to his native Ireland every year, inviting participants to go beyond the beaten track, to experience the landscape and history through the lens of a story about people learning to live at peace with one another.  You can find more about Gareth's work at

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Kathleen Norris is the award-winning poet, writer, and author of The New York Times bestsellers The Cloister Walk, Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, and The Virgin of Bennington. Exploring the spiritual life, her work is at once intimate and historical, rich in poetry and meditations, brimming with exasperation and reverence, deeply grounded in both nature and spirit, sometimes funny, and often provocative.

Widowed in 2003, Kathleen Norris now divides her time between South Dakota and Honolulu, Hawaii, where she volunteers at an Episcopal church. She travels to the mainland regularly to speak to students, medical professionals, social workers, and chaplains at colleges and universities, as well as churches and teaching hospitals.


An Invitation from Our Host, Gareth Higgins…

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Many people have taken trips to Ireland, but few have wandered off the beaten path, forming communities of pilgrims who wanted to experience Ireland in authenticity rather than the more antiseptic/corporate tourist trip where feet don't touch the ground and souls might as well have stayed on the plane. Growing up in northern Ireland I often wished I could show folks the beauty of our landscape, and the depth of our stories, not to mention the hard and rewarding task of peace-building.

I've been privileged to co-lead a few similar trips in the last couple of years in my home of Northern Ireland, with the amazing musicians and spiritual teachers David Wilcox, Karen Moore, Brian McLaren, David LaMotte, and Eric Elnes. I'm delighted to be joined on this upcoming trip next June once more with my great friend Kathleen Norris whose gifts for expanding our ideas about storytelling, engaging difference, and walking through difficult journeys will animate us beautifully.

Our trip is full of surprises, but I can tell you that mornings will often feature gathered conversations, afternoons we will walk the landscape, and in the evenings there might be music, storytelling, and maybe even a touch of firewater! You'll meet friends and colleagues with whom we have been honored to walk some of the journey, peacemakers and poets and politicians, you'll walk by the sea and on mountains, and there'll be plenty of time to take by yourself for whatever you need.

Learn more about our host and the philosophy of our retreats.

The Details

Applications are open now. Places are strictly limited - we can accommodate 25 guests, and our retreats quickly fill up. So, if you know this is for you, or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are eager to welcome you to Belfast in June!

Cost (excluding airfare) of $2850 per person includes:

  • The services of all guides and retreat leaders, support staff, and guests from the world of arts, media, politics and peacemaking.

  • Four nights in 400 year old thatched cottages with traditional Irish breakfast foods.

  • Four nights in 140 year old country house by the sea on the edge of Belfast with traditional cooked breakfast.

  • Lunch or dinner most days.

  • Transport from Belfast hubs to accommodation, and on organized trips throughout the tour.

  • All admission fees to sites such as cultural centers, museums, etc.

  • The use of all accommodation facilities including lounges, gardens, etc.

  • A life-changing experience of spirit, imagination, and community.

When applying with a friend or family member, the cost is only $5,000 for two people!


A final note: In order to make the tour widely accessible, we're glad to help people raise financial support to join the retreat, including folk with continuing education and sabbatical funding. If the cost of the tour is a stretch, please let us know, we'd love to hear from you! We'd be glad to help you find ways to join us if we can.