Your Hosts


We have designed the Eire Retour with you, the writer, in mind ~ blending a love for all things Irish with our wealth of experience in guiding individual clients and groups; we create a time out of time with you at the center. Imagine devoting yourself to ten days of writing,  reflecting and relaxing. In Ireland!  A land steeped in literary tradition ~ from poet to storyteller to playwright to novelist. Let us support you in bringing your memories to the page, inspired by story, song and sacred landscape.

A bit more about us and the writers and experts who will teach, inspire and engage your imagination.

Barb Robitaille

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. Barbara 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 the Retour 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

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 Retour, I handle logistics, ensuring you are comfortable, relaxed, and have the creature comforts you need to support your writing. From beginning each 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.


Authors & Presenters

Helen Falconer

Author & Creative Writing Teacher

Helen Falconer has been teaching creative writing for twelve years, and is the author of five novels – Primrose Hill and Sky High (Faber & Faber) and The Changeling, The Dark Beloved and The Hawthorn Crown (Penguin/Random House).

She edits and supports a small stable of both self-published and traditionally published writers, and enjoys helping new writers to find their voice.

‘Helen is truly one of the greatest editors I’ve worked with. She’s
thorough, she’s brilliant, and I highly recommend her services to any
writer (at any stage of their career) who wants to bring their book to its
fullest potential.’       Jax Miller ~ author of Freedom’s Child & Candyland

‘My books are very well received…that is due, almost entirely to Helen Falconer. I can replace proofreaders, cover designers, typesetters, but I cannot, nor, I pray will I ever have to, replace Helen.’   Jean Grainger ~ playwright and author of several novels including Shadow of a Century, Letters of Freedom, and Under Heaven’s Shining Stars

Helen Falconer

Kate Kerrigan

Author & Teacher 

Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels include the Recipes for a Perfect Marriage which was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year and New York Times bestseller, the Ellis Island Trilogy.

Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain’s most successful young women’s magazines including more! and Just Seventeen magazine under her birth name Morag Prunty, before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990’s. She writes a weekly column in the Irish Mail about her life in Killala, County Mayo, teaches creative writing and mentors at National University College Galway (NUIG) – and contributes regularly to the RTE radio program Sunday Miscellany.

Kate Kerrigan

Denis Quinn

Naturalist & Guide

Kathleen Duffy

Author & Dream Therapist

Known in Ireland for her popular workshops in dream wisdom, Kathleen Duffy works as a psychotherapist in private practice. She has also worked with the Tivoli Institute in Dublin. Kathleen has a “unique charisma on the detective work of dreamscapes” according to the late John O’ Donohue, “above anyone else being able smell out what the story really is…and to have the subtlety, technique and skill to elucidate the intention structure and wisdomscape of the dream.” She has a particular interest in exploring the psyche through dreams as well as relationship issues and the transpersonal. Kathleen Duffy lives in Castlebar, County Mayo Ireland.

Awaken To Your Dreams

Stephen Dunford


A native of County Mayo, Stephen Dunford is an author, historian, and award-winning radio and TV broadcaster/producer. He is also an historical-reenactor and main organiser of the ‘In Humbert’s Footsteps’ (National Winner of the Gathering Events, 2013) re-enactments events.

Stephen shares with unbridled enthusiasm his deep love and knowledge of Irish history and folklore.

Paula Austin

Travel Chef

Paula has been cooking for as long as she can remember. As a young girl, she was the designated family baker and soon began to see cooking as more than simply preparing food. She trained in Classical French Cuisine under the tutelage of the late Robert Reynolds and later co-founded The Irreverent Spoon, a pop-up dinner club in Portland, Oregon. A bit of a traveling chef, she was the Pastry Chef/Baker at a gluten-free garden-to-table restaurant in the Olympic Peninsula; did a short cooking stint at a wilderness lodge in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon and is the Eire Retour’s chef where she gets to prepare wholesome meals using Ireland’s bounty. Inspired by the words her cooking mentor used to say, “food taste better when it tastes like what it is,” Paula’s cooking style is straightforward and aims to create community around the table and bring quality ingredients forward and heighten them to create stimulating experiences for all the senses.


The Irreverent Spoon

Liz Keane

Owner Old Deanery Holiday Cottages

Liz Keane will be our queen of hearth and home while we nest in her beloved cottages for ten days.  Owner of The Old Deanery Holiday Cottages, Liz’s warm smile, and generous spirit immediately make you feel as though you’ve known her forever. We can’t imagine anyone finer to support us in making you comfortable and her vibrant energy and zest for living life full out are infectious. With Liz, laughter flows, hearts open and ideas flourish.

Along with her passion for operating the cottages, Liz founded The Joe Keane Creative Centre, named in memory of her father. The Center is set in a restored Victorian stable situated on the hillside above the cottages. The center offers many interesting and enjoyable classes, courses and workshops bringing people in the community together to learn and have fun.

Old Deanery Holiday Cottages

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

— Henry Miller