2020 Retreat Application

We're looking forward to reviewing your application!

We invite you to complete the form below to apply to join us in Ireland next summer, on either our May 31st-June 8th, June 17th-25th, or August 19th-27th trips. Both trips are hosted by northern Irish writer, storyteller and violence reduction activist Gareth Higgins; the May 31st-June 8th trip features Paul Hutchinson; the June 17th-25th trip also features distinguished author Kathleen Norris, and the August 19th-27th trip also features beloved singer/songwriter David Wilcox. Please read the retreat details at irelandretreats.com in full prior to submitting your application.

Very few spaces remain on the late June Retreat with Gareth Higgins and special guest Kathleen Norris, but we’re happy to announce that Kathleen Norris intends to join us for a portion of the May 31st-June 8th retreat.

Cost Details

The cost of the trip is $2850, or $4950 for two people applying together (You don't have to be a couple! Friends & family members of any permutation are welcome to apply together and the discount will apply.):

  • The services of our administrators, guides and retreat leaders, support team, and guests from the world of arts, spirituality, politics and peacemaking.
  • Four nights accommodation in historic cottages in the Mourne Mountains.
  • Four nights accommodation in retreat centre housed in the grounds of 140 year old country mansion on the outskirts of Belfast.
  • Transport from Belfast hubs to accommodation, and on organized trips throughout the tour.
  • All admission fees on organized trips 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.

Application Process

  1. Submit this application, and we'll review it and get our decision to you as soon as possible.
  2. Upon acceptance, we'll send you an invoice for the $450 per person trip deposit. You can pay this via check or credit card.
  3. Your place on the retreat will be formally confirmed upon the receipt of your deposit, and we'll communicate further details so that you can begin planning your trip!
  4. The remaining balance will be due by April 15, 2020, either in one full payment of $2,400 or four postdated checks of $600 each (if applying as an individual); or if applying as a pair, one full payment of $2025 or four postdated checks of $506.25 per person (different payment plans may be available to spread the cost over a longer period - please ask for more details).
  5. We'll look forward to your presence with us in northern Ireland in Summer 2020!

Applying with a friend or family member? When two people apply and sign up together, you can join us for $4,950 total ($2,475 per person)!

All the Details...


We recommend flying into Belfast International or Belfast City Airport, but flights to Dublin Airport, from which direct public transport options to Belfast are easily available, are often significantly cheaper than those to Belfast, so we encourage you to explore fight options to Dublin as well. All retreat guests will be picked up at the central Belfast transportation hub which is easily accessible from any of the airports. Please do not book flights until we confirm your place on the retreat after your application has been submitted.

Single Rooms

Rooms are shared with one or two other persons, but we are sometimes able to offer single rooms for a $500 supplement. Please let us know if you would like to request a single room; we aim to let you know if one is available by one month before the trip begins; we will only charge the $500 supplement if we can confirm a single room for you. Please note that older Irish cottages do not have en suite bathrooms.

Cancellation Policy

If, after you are accepted on the trip, you should need to withdraw your application prior to March 31st, 2020, we will refund your registration fee minus 15% ($427.50). If you withdraw after March 31st, 2020, any refund will depend upon whether we are able to find someone else to fill your place, but in any case, will still be subject to the 15% administration fee.

Trip Insurance

We strongly recommend you take out comprehensive travel insurance that includes insurance in the event of your having to cancel. We cannot take any responsibility for loss, damage, or injury on the trip.

Walking & Hiking

Walking is an integral part of our trip, and while our walks are not very strenuous, they can be challenging. If you have any questions contact us to discuss the walks before applying for the trip. It does not require extensive experience, but will be at least moderately demanding, though exponentially rewarding! Comfortable walking shoes, an open heart, and a willingness to have your stamina stretched (a bit!) are invited…


Breakfast is provided each day, with either lunch or dinner on most days as well. You will be responsible for either lunch or dinner each day (on some days during the trip we will provide both lunch and dinner, meaning that one other day you will be responsible for both lunch and dinner, but it balances out!). We will always ensure you are near good and inexpensive restaurants for these meals. Meals that we share as a group will be homemade buffet style or generous packed lunches, depending on the schedule on a particular day. We are often joined by marvelous cooks, and we invite everyone to share in the preparation of meals and cleanup as a fun and creative way of building community.


We pick up our retreat guests from Belfast City Centre, at around 2pm on the day the retreat begins. You are also welcome to make your own way to the retreat cottages for check in between 4-6pm on that day. Flights to Dublin Airport are often significantly cheaper than to Belfast, and there is a direct bus from Dublin Airport to Belfast, taking less than two hours. If flying to Dublin Airport please time your flight to arrive by 9.30am on May 31 (Gareth Higgins trip), June 17 (Kathleen Norris & Gareth Higgins trip), or August 19 (David Wilcox & Gareth Higgins trip). If possible, it's often a good idea to arrive a day or more before the retreat begins, to adjust to the time difference, jet lag, etc., and because the retreat check in is not available until 4pm. We are happy to advise on accommodation options and itineraries before or after the retreat. We will send specific details closer to the time. Please note that if you're arriving a day or two early, you'll not be able to stay in our accommodations––we recommend booking a hotel in Belfast City Centre.

Currency & Money

Bring at least $30 per day for a meal, drinks, etc. ATMs are as widely available as in the US, and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. The trip takes place entirely in northern Ireland, which uses the UK Pound Sterling. Please note that the currency in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro - but UK sterling is accepted in Dublin airport.


We depart our accommodation on the morning of June 8th/June 25th/August 27th, depending on the retreat. On that day we will be about 20 minutes from Belfast City Airport, about 40 minutes from Belfast International Airport, and about 2.5 hours from Dublin Airport; recommended check in time for international flights is three hours ahead of departure. Please schedule your departing flight no earlier than 10:30am. We can accommodate earlier departures, but this will require a taxi at your own expense. We will need to depart our accommodation by 11am. 

Passport & Visa

Each participant needs a valid passport, but no Visa is currently required for U.S. Citizens traveling to Ireland or the United Kingdom.

A Final Note from Our Host...

This experience is very different from what might be typically understood as a traditional retreat. While there will be space for quiet reflection, we will be engaged in conversation and meeting folks whose stories sometimes make challenging listening. We take seriously the pain and struggle of the northern Irish story, but also the hopeful endeavors toward a more peaceful society. We also aim to create a warm and inclusive environment, and and we welcome and seek to celebrate adults of all ages, genders, races, sexual orientations and gender identities, abilities, educational backgrounds, rejecting discrimination based on any historically marginalized category. 

Painful histories mingle with the surprise of new things, exquisite natural surroundings, food and drink and sounds that nourish the soul. There may be tears, but there will certainly also be laughter. There may be struggle, but also inspiration. It is one of the privileges and delights of my life to welcome you to my home, and to share in this gathering. I invite you to allow the stories, people, and landscape to speak to you about how your own life might become more peaceful, and help others on that same journey. I look forward to meeting you! - Gareth Higgins