About the REtreats


Ireland Retreats are led by northern Irish writer and peace activist Gareth Higgins, with guest co-facilitators.

Over the course of eight days we typically meet with historians, politicians, grass roots peace activists, and writers & artists all experienced in helping transform the society. Opportunities are offered to visit museums, interpretive centres and other spaces in which the cultural and political history and contemporary realities of northern Irish society are well-versed. One highlight of the trip is a walk that encompasses the "two sides" of the socio-political conflict, making a journey that most people in Northern Ireland have not yet taken. And yes, we visit the Giant's Causeway as well as other beautiful features of the astonishing northern Irish coastal landscape!

Over the past five years, over two hundred people have taken these trips hosted by Gareth, and many respond that the event both opened their minds and educated them about the possibility of learning how to live better as one diverse community in the US or wherever they may live, rather than many divided communities.


Gareth Higgins, Ph.D. has been involved in peace-building and creative conflict transformation work for over 25 years. He is the co-author of Anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland and Religion, Civil Society, and Peace in Northern Ireland, and has worked with the major peace-building organizations in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, including Queen's University Belfast, the Irish School of Ecumenics at Trinity College Dublin, the Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland and the Evangelical Contribution on Northern Ireland, and the Corrymeela Community.

In 1998, he co-founded the zero28 project, a post-sectarian peacebuilding initiative seeking to change the story of division and conflict to one of collaboration and the common good. Mentored by the theologian and activist Walter Wink and the Celtic spirituality teacher John O'Donohue, Gareth has lived in the US for the past decade, co-founding the Wild Goose Festival, Movies & Meaning, the New Story Festival, and The Porch Magazine, all of which in their own way embody creativity and community, and seek the good of people and the earth through transforming the stories we tell.

His books How Movies Helped Save My Soul, Cinematic States, and The Seventh Story: Us, Them, and the End of Violence (co-authored with Brian McLaren) are accessible and warm introductions to how the stories we tell shape our lives for better and worse. The Ireland Retreats are invitations to folk from overseas to visit Northern Ireland for a short immersion experience in landscape, storytelling, community, and learning from the stories of conflict and peace. Click here for more information on upcoming retreats.