Reclaiming the Wise Woman retreat

Beara, West Cork


Dreaming ourselves awake

The Wise Woman, in the tradition of these lands, is profoundly connected to place and the natural world around her. She has fallen into the land’s story; she has become part of the land’s dreaming. She is a land-whisperer, a place-conjuror, a story-weaver; she knows how to listen for the wisdom of the Earth. She is the inheritor of the traditions of the Cailleach, the wild old woman of Gaelic mythology who made and shaped the land. In Ireland, the wise woman we know as the bean feasa is also a walker-between-worlds, a conduit for the wisdom of the Otherworld which is so inextricably entangled in this one.

This retreat will take place in a lovely location on the threshold of the wild and beautiful Beara Peninsula, in the south-west of Ireland. Beara is the home of the Cailleach Bhéarra, and her mythology still permeates this landscape of sea, rock and mountain today. Over the course of six days, we’ll explore the native Wise Woman stories and traditions of Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe, bringing them alive and making them relevant to the world we live in today.

But above all, this retreat is experiential. At the heart of it is a deep exploration of skills and practices which will help us develop a rich relationship with the land and the non-human others who inhabit it with us. We’ll talk about ways to build meaningful and authentic traditions based on the native wisdom of these lands, and about what it might mean to reclaim our indigeneity. We’ll talk about enchantment, about rekindling the mythic imagination. We’ll talk about dreaming, about waking up – and about dreaming ourselves awake.



Sunday 5 to Saturday 11 May, 2019.

The retreat begins at 5pm on the Sunday; departure is after breakfast on the Saturday.


We will be staying in four comfortable and stylish houses on the beautiful Dromgarriff Estate, just outside the village of Glengarriff, with access to the shore at Bantry Bay and views of Garnish Island. (For more information about Glengarriff, please visit this website. For more information about the Beara Peninsula, please visit this website.)

15 rooms are available (there are nine bedrooms in the main house; and three bedrooms each in three smaller cottages). Bathrooms are mostly shared though a small number are en suite; these are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

FOOD: Plentiful vegetarian food is provided, organic wherever available. At lunch and breakfast, you help yourself from the pantry.  Provisions for lunch assume you’ll only require a light meal (soup, salad, sandwiches, eggs) but if you need something more substantial, or want more variety, cafés and restaurants can be found in Glengarriff village, a short distance away. Delicious evening meals will be provided for us by Ali, our visiting cook, but we cannot cater for very restrictive diets. Straightforward vegan and wheat-free diets are fine, but if your diet means that you do not eat legumes, for example, or carbohydrates such as potatoes or rice – or if you have any serious food allergies at all – then I’m afraid you cannot be accommodated, and it is not feasible on these retreats for people to bring and cook their own food. If you are usually a meat/fish-eater, please don’t worry that our meals will be low in protein! – we’re very conscious of the need for balanced nutrition. If in doubt, please enquire BEFORE booking.

ROTA: Please note that all participants must be prepared to work together on a rota basis to clear dishes after meals and maintain the dishwasher, as well as to keep the houses clean and tidy, during the retreat; each participant spends one day, or part of the day for arrival and departure days, on the rota.


Getting there

The nearest airport, for those travelling from the UK and Europe, is Cork; if you’re coming from further afield then Shannon is your closest international airport, though there will be more flights to Dublin airport and with good roads, it’s not actually very much further. In all cases, buses are available to Glengarriff, changing at Cork. From Dublin, you can also get a train as far as Cork. (You can also fly into Killarney from certain destinations, though bus connections are limited.)


The cost per person, including tuition, a single bedroom and food for six nights, is 995 euros. A non-refundable deposit of 250 euros will be required on booking; the remainder will be due three months before the retreat begins.

REFUND POLICY: Although we recognise that life can change rapidly and that unexpected things might occur, we have a strict refund policy. This is because of the accommodation and other costs that we are committed to once bookings are taken for a retreat, and also the costs and time required to re-advertise places which are booked and subsequently cancelled. All initial deposits are non-refundable, and cannot be held over to future retreats. With apologies, we can’t make exceptions to this rule. If you cancel within three months of the retreat, the remainder of your payment (i.e. minus the deposit) will be refunded only if a replacement can be found to take your place. This is often possible – though having a waiting list is no guarantee that those on the waiting list will be available to actually take up a place. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to find substitutes within the six weeks or so prior to a retreat, and if you cancel within a week or two, we will be unable to fill your place. We recommend that you take out travel insurance where possible to minimise your risk if the unexpected happens. In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the retreat (it’s never happened yet!) then of course you will be refunded in full.


How to book



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