Time Away in the Heart of Ireland


A West of Ireland Retour with Barbara Robitaille & Craig Stewart

October 2 – 12  2018

There’s something about Ireland ~ a magic held in this place where a different rule of time applies. Where doing things slowly is better than doing them fast. Where tall stories and truth blend seamlessly. Where awakening and cultivating presence in our hearts unfold gently ~ coaxed into being by the landscape, the people, the stories, and song.


Our heartbeat fills the space between each step taken across the untamed, wild landscape. Connection to our heart song finds accompaniment in the earth’s song ~ a duet perfect as no other. A gentle rhythm of presence aligns in perfect harmony with the musical score of the Universe. Listen ~ to the creative muse within who has awakened.

You are home. In your heart. In your mind. In your soul.

Each day we guide you further along your journey to reclaim, reimagine and renew your spirit, allowing ease to grow, to heal, to create. Together we share laughter and stories over table-filled feasts, fireside conversation, song and celebration. Special attention is paid to allowing a flow between quiet reflection and engagement.


Together we explore the beauty and wildness of the Irish landscape, visiting an array of extraordinary destinations. Here is a sampling:

Achill Island: the largest of Ireland’s islands lies off the western shore of County Mayo and is connected to the mainland by a bridge named in honor of late political activist, Michael Davitt. Achill Island’s striking natural beauty – Blue Flag beaches to cliffs rising out of the sea – is a place that stirs the soul. From wading in the surf to walking the high cliff landscape, we will delight in the beauty and hospitality of Achill.

Cong:  home to Ashford Castle—built by the Guinness family—and setting for the acclaimed movie, The Quiet Man, Cong sits on the borders of Counties Mayo and Galway, and is surrounded by water and waterways. Small wonder it’s a tourist destination—quaint, quiet, picturesque, rich with history and eye-pleasing sights. Follow your nose to Rare and Recent Books~ a book lover’s delight and then make your way to The Hungry Monk. Tea & Scones anyone?!

Wild Nephin Wilderness:  well off the beaten path we take a long and robust day hike over hill and hazel wood, across wild stretches of bog and beside the pristine waters of small brooks and creeks beneath the gaze of Nephin Mountain. Though it appears barren, the wilderness is teeming with wildlife, vibrant flowers and–of course–the omnipresent sheep of County Mayo.

Downpatrick Head: a few miles north of Ballycastle in County Mayo is the dramatic and historically significant limestone outcropping, just offshore on a remote section of the Wild Atlantic Way. Downpatrick Head ranks high on the top ten list of “must see” places to visit in Ireland. Imagine taking in the breathtaking views as we listen to our guide, Denis, bring alive the history and legends of St. Patrick’s influence here.

Moyne Abbey: is located north of Ballina on Killala Bay, not far from our cottages. Moyne Abbey remains one of the most notable medieval monastic ruins in Mayo with a rich and storied history. Moyne Abbey is a designated Irish National Monument. The path to the abbey runs through a working farm with a warning on the gate “beware of the bull”. We’ve yet to see the bull, but have kept company with a few friendly cows along the way.

Westport: Named the “Best Place to Live in Ireland” by the Irish Times, Westport sits on the southeast corner of Clew Bay, beneath towering Croagh Patrick. Tree-lined roads, shops, pubs, churches, and natural setting make for a satisfying complement to a day spent exploring the gorgeous Mayo landscape. We’ll be taking in a bit of shopping, a dinner to remember and a session at Matt Molloy’s pub.


Stay in a cluster of lovely cottages on the shore of Killala Bay in County Mayo. Each cottage holds four to six people with a spacious living room and peat fire, and includes a kitchen and laundry facilities. Rooms are shared with one other person, with a limited number of single rooms available for an additional fee.


Pantries and refrigerators are well stocked for breakfasts. A total of ten other meals are provided, either lunch or dinner each day. Enjoy locally catered feasts and a variety of picnic lunches. Be prepared to buy one meal per day, budgeting approximately 15 Euros for lunch or 25 Euros for dinner. Plus a bit more depending on your fondness for Guinness.

Physical Expectations

Several of our day hikes take us over uneven terrain or off the beaten path. Please be honest in evaluating your ability to participate in such activity, for your own safety as well as for the consideration of the group. We will make every effort to accommodate your particular needs, be it offering a helping hand over a rough patch or by providing you an alternative to the day’s hike.

Arrivals & Departure

In booking your flights please be certain that you or your travel agent follow the guidelines for arrival and departure days and times.  Contact us with questions regarding your travel details. Please DO NOT BUY YOUR AIRFARE until we confirm with you that the spaces have been sold and the tour is officially on.

Arrival: Book your flight into Dublin airport. We recommend you arrive in Dublin on October 1st, stay the night in Dublin and then make your way to Ballina, Co. Mayo on the train leaving Heuston Station, the early afternoon of October 2nd. We will assist you in booking your train ticket, letting you know what train to book and send you an online link for convenient ticket purchase. We will meet you at the Ballina train station at your scheduled arrival time.

You may wish to fly in earlier for a longer Dublin experience; to enjoy the city and recover from jet-lag. Some folks add on a few extra days in Dublin before flying home. We’re happy to offer suggestions for your Dublin stay.

Departure:  We will transport you to the Ballina train station the morning of October 12th arriving in Dublin’s Heuston Station in the early afternoon. If you are flying out of Dublin on October 12th, do not book a flight in the morning or early afternoon. You will need to plan transportation via bus or taxi from the train station to Dublin airport. Late afternoon & evening flights only.

Cost and Payments

The total cost of the Retour is $3750.00.

Commitment of payments is as follows:

A deposit of $750.00 is due with your registration;

A second installment payment of $1000.00 is due July 15th. Subsequent payments of $1000.00 are due August 15th and September 15th.

If you prefer to pay by check or to discuss an alternate payment schedule please contact us.  

In the event you cancel your Retour application before August 15th, we retain 10% of tour cost ($375.00). Should you cancel after August 15th, any refund will depend upon our finding a replacement for your spot. Either way, we will retain 10% of the tour cost.

Note:  all costs assume the Euro does not rise above 1.3.  If this does occur there would be a small supplemental charge.

What the trip price includes:

Your payment covers Barbara and Craig’s services as facilitators and guides.

All accommodations for the nights of October 2 – 11.

All breakfasts.

Ten meals (comprised of lunches and dinners).

All admission fees.  

All transport in-country during the trip, pick up at Ballina train station on October 2 and return to Ballina train station on October 12.

Not included:  Airfare.  One of your main meals per day.  Tips.  Any additional transportation costs if your flight is scheduled outside the Retour time parameters.

Ready to join us?

To register for Eire Retour please fill out the form found on the REGISTER! page.


Please review our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Call Barbara at 503.333.3910, Craig at 503.805.2519 or

Email ~ barbara@eireretour.com,   craig@eireretour.com

It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious.

— John Irving