An Irish Retreat

When Hubby and I decided we were going to try to return to the UK to visit family, we didn’t envisage what was to come. We booked flights and hotels in Malta, thinking that would be a simple route back – it wasn’t – we started hearing about friends catching Covid-19 there and that certain vaccines were not recognised – the signs were telling us this was not to be.

I then got excited about a potential trip via my Spiritual Home, Ibiza. But the excitement lasted 24 hours as it became Amber overnight – cue more cancellations. And then something happened that was quite unexpected, some Irish luck found its way to us and a route opened.

As soon as Ireland was locked in, I started researching Yoga and Meditation Retreats. However, as Ireland had only just reopened, this wasn’t easy. When I’d almost given up on my search, a blog appeared on Google about the best Retreats across Ireland. I scrolled through the locations and found The Cliffs of Moher Retreat.

The location looked amazing and when I showed that to Hubby, he was in! We booked for a mid-week retreat, then planned the rest of our trip around it.

We arrived at the Retreat after a 3-hour drive across country, stopping off at various historic sites along the way. Michael, the owner, met us as we arrived and gave us our keys. In the Reception area there was a book, which was written by his wife Michelle, called “The Life Audit”. It looked very good on a browse through.

A quick change and it was straight to our first yoga class. Aoife greeted us at the door and I immediately felt her delight at receiving the group. It turned out we were her first in-person class for two years!

After yoga we headed straight to dinner, prepared by Ally and her team. Day One was vegan, then the rest of the time was vegetarian, with vegan options available. The weather was quite mild, so Hubby and I sat outside to eat, and we chatted with Marie Therese, the Manager, who shared tips on where to visit around the area.

Dinner done and I tried to convince Hubby to get in the hot tub. He wasn’t keen on that, so we opted for the infrared sauna instead, which we ironically set at 48 degrees – so whilst we sat and sweated, we felt like we were back in Dubai!

Day Two and I woke up early, so I headed to the studio to meditate before yoga. Coming out of a meditative state, my eyes focused on the view outside of the full-length windows, which was of meadows expanding out towards the sea. Yoga was full of twists and spirals and moves I’ve never seen before! When I asked Aoife about it, she told me it was from Katonah Yoga – I was intrigued…

A Silent Walking Meditation was next on the agenda. Focusing on our feet, breath and senses, we slowly made our way down to the sea. The vibrant colours of the flowers that lined the roadside shone out and the salty air hit my nostrils as we approached the sea. Some of the group went for a swim – it looked cold!

On the way back a flock of birds swooped down right by me. It felt like we were right in the middle of Mother Earth’s garden. It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t seen any shamrocks in Ireland, so I asked Aoife where to find them. She laughed and told me she hadn’t seen them much since childhood, but they might be in with the cows, as they are partial to a bit of dung!

The rest of the day was free, so Hubby and I went to visit The Cliffs of Moher – spectacular sea cliffs, with magnificent views. We also visited St Brigid’s Well, the Patron Saint of Protection, where a small grotto held photos and mementos of those who had passed on. A quick stop at a café that claimed to sell the best coffee in Ireland. We drank our decaf, almond, café late and it was very tasty. The café also sold vegan fudge, which was delicious.

Back to the retreat for Restorative Yin Yoga. I’d never experienced this type of yoga before and found it incredibly restful and my entire body felt loose afterwards. Dinner was yummy, with ingredients either homegrown or foraged. The freshness was incredible. Hubby and I ended the day with a drive to the local beach – full of dog walkers enjoying the tide being out.

Day Three was also my birthday! I meditated again on my own before the group arrived for Yoga. Feeling very zen at the end of the session, we all sat and watched the view for a few minutes. I watched as the birds descended in front of the windows and landed on the long grass and weeds.

Another walk and we headed back to the well I’d visited the day before. This time I took an offering with me and hung my mala beads inside the grotto. Hubby and I went off-site for a birthday lunch at Pot Duggans in Ennistymon, upon Aoife’s recommendation. Being vegan as well, I trusted her implicitly and it was perfect.

Before our evening yoga I led a Shake Session with some of the group. It was so much fun! Aoife then did a beautiful Yin class, ending with a lovely Yoga Nidra. The best birthday presents! At dinner, Ally brought out a slice of vegan cake with cashew cream on for me and everyone sang happy birthday – it was a special day.

The last day I rose early to read the book that Aoife kindly lent me, which details Katonah Yoga – a fascinating perspective, merging geometry with Taoism. The idea that the body is the mind and the mind is the body, really spoke to me.

The closing sharing circle was beautiful and we finished with a yoga that completed our journey. I was able to move my body into positions I didn’t know were possible!

One last lunch and then we were off! Before I left, I caught up with Michael and he gave me some history of the property. The main house was used as an infirmary during The Great Famine!

The Cliffs of Moher Retreat is etched on my heart forever. I left filled to the brim with contentment, happiness, and joy. We were all leaving in a blissed-out state.

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