Phone: (607) 756-8676
Our Experience, Your Discoveries
We want to show you the world, and to have you truly inspired by it - exploring its breathtaking diversity. Our enthusiasm is stronger than ever to reach out and expand your horizons.
We hope you accept this invitation and join us on one of our journeys so that our experience becomes one of your many discoveries.
Poetry of Place
Allow the land to inspire your words and your vision. Travelling to abbeys, mountains, forests, and pubs of Ireland, this workshop offers both guidance and free reign to photograph or write. Most mornings we will gather for a brief session of instruction, using writing or images, to direct and focus the attention. These sessions include short talks on ways of responding to the world using a pen or camera, specifically designed writing exercises, and discussion. Then off to sites where you will have time to explore the landscape in whichever medium you choose. This program is for writers or photographers or both. Personal expression is the main focus of this tour.
Each participant may bring a sample of current writing for individual critique. Those who wish may offer a portfolio of photographs for informal discussion. The emphasis in the workshop is on personal vision and expression.
Your itinerary is set in the unspoiled villages, rugged ancient abbeys, broad peat lowlands, and the dramatic coastline of Western Ireland. The soft pastel shades of the mountains and clouds appeal to the artist and photographer. These natural landscapes, along with the people render this Isle a place of inspirational beauty. We will visit places you could never locate on your own — tiny villages, hidden beaches, castles, and ancient abbeys. Possible highlights include a salon with contemporary writers, artists or craftspeople, a visit to Yeats’ home at Thoor Ballylee and homemade soda bread. In this ten day journey, trace a map of where you are as you move through the country exploring the power of the image and the word.
Ronna Bloom works as a teacher of poetry, prose writing, and as a psychotherapist. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish and Bengali, recorded for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and broadcast on CBC Radio. She has led workshops across Canada and abroad, and currently, teaches at the University of Toronto. Ronna has published three books of poetry. Most recently, Public Works, (Pedlar Press, 2004) was shortlisted for The Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman. Her fourth book, Permiso, was published by Pedlar Press in 2009.
For many years, Ronna worked as a photographer, assisting Ron Rosenstock in running the Irish Photographic Workshop. She studied photography and media at The Slade School of Fine Art in London, England and exhibited her work in Ireland, England and Holland. Ronna, who lived at Hillcrest House in Ireland during the 80's, returns in 2009 with this new workshop for writers and photographers.
Day 1: U.S.
Our journey to Ireland begins with an overnight flight from the U.S. to Shannon Airport, Ireland.
Day 2: Shannon – Hillcrest House, Westport
We will be met at Ireland’s Shannon International Airport and driven north to Westport, on the shores of Clew Bay. Along the way we will take time to view Thoor Ballylee, home of William Butler Yeats. From 1898, Yeats spent his summers at Lady Gregory’s home, Coole Park, County Galway, and he eventually purchased a ruined Norman castle called Thoor Ballylee in the neighbourhood. Under the name of the Tower, this structure would become a dominant symbol in many of his latest and best poems. After lunch we continue our drive to County Mayo.
Days 3 - 9: Western Ireland
Each day we will visit some of these typical areas from our home base at Hillcrest House. There is no possible way to visit all of them, so our tour leader and guide will plan each day considering the interests of the group.
We often start each trip with a visit to Ballintubber Abbey, or Baile Tobair Padraig, in Irish. It is one of the oldest Abbeys in Ireland dating back to the twelfth century, named for the natural spring nearby, where St. Patrick baptized his first Irish converts.
Hillcrest House lays half way between the City of Westport and the Village of Newport. Both capture the flavor of true Irish towns with their tree-lined canals and colorful shops. After a stop in Westport, we will drive to Murrisk Abbey, at the foot of Ireland's Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick. Later in the day we will be at the ocean on the west coast of Mayo at a remote rocky shore called Barnabawn Point. Our last stop of the day will be at Tully House, a private residence at the end of a quarter mile tree-lined avenue. There is an old mill along the Bunowen River, a short walk from the house.
Another day we will spend the morning in and around the town of Cong. Photo locations include Ashford Castle, Cong Abbey, the forest and river, as well as the town itself. After lunch we will have the opportunity to photograph an area of rolling hill, sheep, and a myriad of stonewall, on a hillside flowing down to Lough Corrib. The picturesque village of Cong was the setting for John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara’s film The Quiet Man. The King of Connacht founded the abbey ruins in the twelfth century. In 1198 the last High King of Ireland died in the abbey.
Driving north today, our first stop will be along the ocean on the Atlantic drive in Mulranny. After lunch on Achill Island, we will continue along the ocean, and wind up at the deserted famine village at Keel. Achill Island, wrought by wind and water, is an arrangement of rock, cloud, and cliffs falling off to the sea.
Today we visit one of the few remaining round towers in Ireland, Turlough, standing amid a field of ancient carved gravestones. Nearby is the new Museum of Country Life, one of Ireland’s National Museums, well worth the stop. Later in the afternoon we will photograph the glacial erratic boulders at Lough Cullin.
We drive this morning along the shores of Doo Lough, visiting two locations. After lunch in the town of Louisburgh, we will spend the afternoon walking in the Sheeffrey Hills, a place where we must be careful not to disturb the leprechauns who inhabit the forest.
Burrishoole Abbey is a great place to start one of our days. Nearby is Carrigahowley Castle, one of the many strongholds of Grace O’Malley, the adventurous sixteenth century Pirate Queen. Later in the afternoon we visit Letterkeen Forest. (B, D)
Day 10: Westport – Burren - Ennis
We will leave Hillcrest House early this morning, and drive to either the Burren region, or more sights around Town of Ennis. Our last full day of exploring, writing, and photographing the wild landscapes of Ireland will be spent in this beautiful area. Tonight we will stay at the Temple Gate Hotel (or similar) and enjoy dinner on our own. (B)
Day 11: Ennis – Shannon – U.S.
After breakfast this morning, we’ll say good bye to our new friends in hopes of seeing them again some day, perhaps even at Hillcrest House. We board our afternoon flights for home.(B)
Your home away from home, Hillcrest House, was renovated for the sole purpose of accommodating small groups. Its homelike quality adds to the relaxed atmosphere of the trip. You will enjoy traditional Irish breakfasts and dinners during your stay. Lunch will be at various restaurants and pubs, or we can stop in town and have a picnic lunch wrapped for our daily excursions in the field. Transportation is provided in a roomy tour van, which is large enough for both the group and our equipment.
Tour land cost: $3,195 US Dollars based upon minimum of 5 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.
Single room supplement: $345; single rooms are subject to availability and are not guaranteed. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.
Note: The land costs on international tours is based upon current exchange rates. Although the rate has been relatively stable, should it change, there may need to be an adjustment in the land cost.
Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds
A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic programs) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.
Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities listed as optional, or those taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, film or processing, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.
Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties.
Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.
Fitness and Health
If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).
You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.
Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.
Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.
There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.
Subject to Change
This itinerary has been carefully constructed to assure participants the best this destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. Above is a summary of typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.