Ireland 2018

Storytelling, Music, Art and Peace

JuLY 26TH-AUGUST 3RD, Kilkeel and Cultra, Northern Ireland

Hosted by Gareth Higgins, with special guest Eric Elnes (1).png

Hanna's Cottages, Kikeel

The Ireland Retreat is a feast for the senses and nourishment for the soul, led by friends who are eager to share their stories with you, and invite you into a new way of telling your own story.

Mourne Mountains

Mourne Mountains

You’re invited to join us on a journey of hope, healing, creativity and community. Staying first in 400 year old thatched cottages in Mourne country and then a lovely old country house by the sea outside Belfast, 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. This will be an eight day experience - for 25 guests only - that might just last for the rest of your life.



Thoughts from previous participants:


“…one of the most profound spiritual journeys I have ever undertaken, in the delightful company of deep spirited and utterly engaging fellow travelers. At the right time in the right way, it has changed my life…”

“…a fabulous opportunity to experience the physical beauty, the political culture and history and the warm, friendly people of Ireland. An opportunity to slow down, reflect and connect with interesting, diverse people in substantive, heartlevel ways…”

“…a unique experience…to journey with total strangers through the beautiful city and countryside, learning about conflict and peace both in the healing of Ireland and our own internal search for peace. With storytelling, poetry, mysticism to round out a life-changing adventure while developing lifelong friendships.”

Our GUide


Gareth Higgins is a northern Irish writer, storyteller, and peace activist, now living in the US. Author/coauthor of four books, on spirituality, cinema, and peacemaking, he was founding director of the Wild Goose Festival and Movies & Meaning. He is passionate about art, storytelling, and experiencing the miracle of ourselves just where we are. He’s a big fan of Gandhi, Bayard Rustin, and Kermit the Frog.

Gareth says: “There are pilgrims who want 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.  I've been privileged to co-lead a few similar trips in the last couple of years, with the amazing musicians and spiritual teachers Karen Moore, David Wilcox, and David LaMotte. I'm delighted to be joined on this upcoming trip next June once more with my great friend Eric Elnes whose gifts for expanding our ideas about storytelling, engaging difference, and walking through difficult journeys will animate us beautifully. Our trip is very much inspired by the that what we see depends on how we see: mornings we may have gathered conversations, afternoons we might walk the landscape, and in the evenings there could be music, storytelling, and surprises! 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, you'll see Belfast and other northern Irish towns, and there'll be plenty of time to take by yourself for whatever you need.”

Our Special Guest

Dr Eric Elnes is Senior Minister of Countryside Community Church (UCC), the Christian partner in Omaha, NE’s heralded Tri-Faith Initiative where a synagogue, a mosque, and a church are co-locating to learn what it is like to live in harmony with each other. Eric’s internet television program, Darkwood Brew has produced the world’s largest collection of progressive small group video resources. His books include The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity and Gifts of the Darkwood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics (And Other Wanderers). 




The Trip

The trip takes place July 26th-August 3rd, 2018. You will need to depart the US on July 25th to arrive on the morning of July 26th, and the retreat ends in time to return to the US by the evening of August 3rd. Applications will open on January 10th, 2017. If you're interested, and want more details, please send an email at this link, and we'll send you the information and application form. Places are strictly limited - we can accommodate 25 guests, and expect the trip to be over-subscribed. So if you know this is for you, or if you're asking maybe, click here to let us know. We are eager to welcome you to Belfast in July.

Cost (excluding airfare) of $2440 per person (payment plans available to spread the cost up to twelve months) 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 each day.
• 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.   

 To request an application form, please send an email at this link. Please email us with any questions. There are only 25 spaces available on this wonderful adventure, so please apply soon! Thank you!

And now, the famous Belfast fish - come with us in July and we might even take you to see it in the flesh/porcelain!


A final note: In order to make the tour accessible, there may be a limited number of subsidized spaces for folk who are able to help behind the scenes - we have a waiting list for these spaces, so please contact us if you would like to be on the list. We've also been glad to help people raise support to join the retreat, including folk with continuing education and sabbatical funding. If you're able to get to Ireland in May, but 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.