It’s no secret our little island is quite adept at ‘the craic’. It might seem we never shut up about our year-round festivals, buzzing pubs, dashing sports… But even we fancy a good get-away-from-it-all sometimes. Taking off into the countryside with a yoga mat, easel, fishing rod or a simple picnic tucked under our arm, and indulging in some juicy me-time to the backdrop of nature.
And wouldn’t-ya-know, centres for tranquility and retreats have been popping up around our island to cater for just such hideaway holidays. Whether it’s cooking or detoxing, angling or horse-riding, yoga or watercolours, there’s a place to retreat and treat yourself in Ireland, as guest blogger Allie Gavette discovers.
, County Leitrim
Nestled naturally enough in Ireland’s Greenbox, this eco-friendly getaway has been lauded by The Observer, Guardian and Times for its healthy retreats and comfy eco-cabins. Choose between weekends of bending with yoga and getting nifty with crafts (including sewing and millinery), or a tough love five day Detox & Juice Cleanse Retreat. Secret option D is a leisurely stay in their eco-cabin with a hot tub session and massage. Bliss.
, County Mayo
This relaxation-mecca runs retreats combining yoga with vegetarian cooking, and meditation with, er, horses. The four-day ‘Connecting with Horses’ retreat in June consists of two daily yoga sessions and the rest of the day with horses. Teacher Vanessa Bee explains horses are highly aware of their handler’s breathing, so using yogic breathing techniques helps the animals relax and trust their handlers. The reward is a flexible body and calmer steed for the rides around the rolling green hills and woodlands of the island.
The clever people at Belmont know that opposites attract: that often a man who loves fishing, and a woman who doesn’t, actually want to go on holiday together. So while he can enjoy fly-fishing rainbow trout on a lake designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, she can partake in one of the poetry, writing, or art excursions on offer. And at the end of the day, they can pop next door to the Enchanted Spa and Retreat, lie back for a soothing massage, and remark on how they really should go on holidays together more often.
Burren Yoga & Meditation Centre, County Galway
If you’re finding the downward dog and tree poses in your local yoga studio a bit monotonous, this centre and its gorgeous Burren landscape will bring a breath of fresh air to your practice. How about a sun salutation on top of a cliff overlooking the sea? Well, we’re sold! These guys can squeeze a retreat into a weekend or week, and the delish veggie food is courtesy of gourmet chef Paddi from Galway’s Seventh Heaven restaurant.
Belle Isle Estate and Cookery School, County Fermanagh
Sometimes all you need to retreat is a grand castle and 13 of your closest friends. Belle Isle has this, and other options if big spectacle isn’t your thing. You could cosy into one of their cottages for a one or two-day course in their renowned cookery school. And when you do inspire devotion in your loved one with your newly honed cookery skills, you can keep in mind Belle Isle also does weddings.
Moongate Lodge, County Carlow
“Stylish, international, and run with exacting attention to detail” according to Country Illustrated, and leaving Irish Interior Writer Barbara McKeon “in awe by its interior” Moongate Lodge’s sprawling house of luxurious and eclectic surroundings can be rented out completely. There’s a blockbuster of a retreat coming this September, though: with cooking lessons from personal chef to the stars and Oprah favourite Aine McAteer, and sessions with world-class yoga teacher Shelley Piser. Sign us up now!
So next time you’re partying at our festivals, tapping your feet to our live sessions, or cheering at our games, remember that there’s a whole other Ireland out there. A tranquil, nature-loving, peaceful side that’s never far away.
Ireland also does spas; very, very well. Explore all the .
Ireland’s also got plenty of islands to offer a tranquil day-trip. Check out our blog post on Ireland’s Islands.