Art + Awe in Ireland with Lesley Riley

May 21-26, 2018

Our Muse:

Lesley Riley is an internationally known mixed media artist, writer, workshop leader, creative coach and mentor who turned her initial passion for photos, color and the written word into a dream occupassion.

Her art and articles have appeared in many publications, including her eight craft books. As former Contributing Editor of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, and the host of BlogTalk Radio’s Art & Soul show, Lesley developed a passion for showcasing talented creatives who make time for art.

In an ongoing effort to find the best ways for fiber and mixed media artists to get permanent photos on fabric, paper, wood and more, Lesley introduced Transfer Artist Paper™, named Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) 2011 Most Innovative new product, the state of the art technology for iron-on transfers.

Her passion and desire to help everyone reach their creative dreams and potential has led her to focus on motivating and empowering women to take their creative life into their own hands. Drawing from her own experience, conversations with women all over the globe, years of insight, and her intuitive knack for seeing the creative potential in the day-to-day of our busy lives, Lesley writes and blogs on the creativity gap, the obstacles that keep us from taking and making the time to gift ourselves with the creative power of art.

The Workshop: 

With the River Moy and Ballina, County Mayo as our starting point, and a driver and van available round the clock, we will gather awe while exploring the breathtaking Atlantic coast of Ireland and Ceathrú Thaidhg, home to over 5000 years of civilization and a profusion of cliffs, crags, caves, chasms and islands along the remote North Mayo Coast.

The Awe

Let your attention and heart be open in exploration for what inspires awe. As we go awe-walking through the coastal cliffs and Irish countryside, cameras and journals in hand, take note of the moments that bring you wonder, that give you goosebumps and fill your soul. These are the thin spaces, the opportunities for awe.

The area is one of great physical beauty and has retained many of its traditions and culture, a place where one can still hear the lilt of the Irish language. Because art is informed and inspired by experience, memory, place and time, we will explore the visual and historical awe of The Wild Atlantic Way. We will draw inspiration from local ruins and sacred spaces, create memories in local villages and pubs, gather awe along the Cliffs of Moher, motor through the preserved cultural region of Connemara and the scenic Maam Valley, stopping at an historic pub to literally and figuratively drink in the history, charm and atmosphere along with the memory of Irish poet and Celtic historian, John O’Donohoe. Taking into account time, weather, and group desires, we will possibly explore the Belleek Castle Forest walk, Ceathrú Thaidhg, St Mary’s Holy Well, Croagh Patrick and have lunch in a small village on the shores of Clew Bay which has to be a contender for the most beautiful in Ireland.

The Art

Ever the seeker of wonder and awe, Lesley will begin the week by guiding you in the experience of awe-walking and gathering “far from the madding crowd.” Like pilgrims, we will seek out thin spaces – a term the ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used to describe mesmerizing places like wind-swept cliffs or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter and the presence of beauty and potential for of awe even greater.

Back in the studio, we will make our souls visible, by translating our moments of awe and beauty into visual notes, mementos, messages and meaning through a variety of personal, expressive mark-making exercises. Lesley will guide you through adding layers of marks, paint, message and meaning, with an eye towards the use of line, composition and color inspired and guided by our awe walks. Your richly layered pages will be gathered into a will be gathered into a simply bound, awe-inspiring journal by weeks end.

The Destination:

You may think you’re unfamiliar with Mayo County, Ireland, but you’re wrong.

If you’ve ever looked at a postcard of Ireland and sighed wistfully, you’ve been sighing about Mayo County. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a perfectly pastoral, sheep-studded Irish scene, you’re in love with Mayo County. If you’ve ever lusted after emerald countryside spilling over rocky cliffs and into a gray Irish sea, you’re hot for Mayo County.

Mayo is a land of raw beauty and yesteryear charm, a place where haunting scenery transitions into cozy farm landscapes, and rugged coastline abuts whisper-soft fields of fine grass. A peaceful haven, at once lush and green, and yet studded with barren mountaintops and craggy cliffs.

Imagine standing here, your feet bare. Your toes dig into the fine, Irish grass. Warm sunbeams alight on your skin. The soundtrack is of birds and baaing sheep. All around, the scenery erupts in a rainbow of green – more hues, shades and gradients than you ever thought existed. The boundless blue sky puts cornflowers to shame. The crisp air is as fresh as your fondest memory.

And yet, few tourists travel to this tiny Irish haven. No eyesores mar your view. This is rare, unadulterated Ireland.  This is why we’re here.

There is nothing in this world quite like raw nature to stir your soul. There is nothing quite like total silence to calm your inner tempest. There is nothing quite like a field, sprinkled with sunlight and dappled with history, to awaken the artist within.

At Arts + Cultural Travel, we chose Mayo County not only for what it is, but for what it is not: No crowds. No extraneous noise. Nothing to distract.


“Was it a dream? Trying to find the words to describe the great time I had at the Red Thread Retreat. From the moment I arrived until we all left in a hurry (thanks to Hurricane Sandy), every day was full of girlfriends, art, wonderful organic food and lots of wine. So happy to have had this time. One of the lucky ones.” Cindy Holland

“I am not embarrassed to say I am a Lesley Riley groupie. Why wouldn’t I want to be a follower of someone who has so drastically impacted my life by your giving nature and your all inclusive and welcoming spirit! I have learned so much at each retreat, but additionally I have met many wonderful people – genuine people – humble people – people I am now pleased to call friends. Again, thank you for your willingness to be the conduit to touch my life with your encouragement which has allowed me to claim the title of artist…..something I have wanted to be since I was in grade school.” Judy Zurenda [hasn’t missed a Red Thread]

Group Size| 12-14 Participants

Experience|This workshop is open to all levels. Any and every curious traveler, who is interested in working with mixed media is welcomed on this lovely journey.

Includes| 5 Nights’ Accommodations, Hotel & Country Tax; Scheduled Airport Transfers Arrival/Departure Days of Workshop; Hearty Irish Breakfast Daily; Welcome + Farewell Dinners; Private Guide & Transportation; Private Guided Excursions; Complimentary Sketch Book; Art Instruction: Lesley Riley

Travel Information| Arrival & Departure Airport: Dublin International Airport (DUB) | Travel Time: Airport to Mount Falcon Estate, approxiately 3 hours of traveling with stops along the way.  **Please note we will notify you by email when it’s time to book your international flights.        

Arriving Early or Departing Later| We would be happy to assist you with hotels and transfers                                                        

Pricing + Registration Information | “Register Here” Button Below

Download Itinerary Here
Pricing + Register Here


 Interested in signing up but still have a few questions?  Give us a call or  Contact Us Here  we love chatting about our artists and destinations! 

**The above tour details are an example of what to expect; the specifics may change slightly to allow for better scheduling, the inclusion of special events or life’s unknowns.  

 Office: 800-919-5904  Email: info@artsandculturaltravel.com

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