5 Irish wellness retreats if you need a relaxing break

Attention wellness junkies: You no longer have to travel to far-flung places to get your zen on when Ireland has a wealth of world-class options right here on home turf. Just this weekend, Body & Soul, one of our favourite festivals of the whole summer for its super chilled out vibes, plays host to the largest ever meditation gathering. 2000 people are expected to get their 'om' on at the festival's outdoor meditation session, but there's plenty more to soothe your soul.

  • Body & Soul

For the delicate flowers among us, and those for whom a six-pack of beer for breakfast makes us weep, B&S give you The Sanctuary. For some much-needed recuperation and rejuvenation, The Sanctuary, nestled by the lake, offers a quiet haven to revitalise body and mind with an array of holistic treatments, yoga classes, hot tubs and seaweed baths.

This wellness hub serves as the perfect counterpoint to the pace of the other areas of the festival. The very best therapists and workshop leaders in Ireland come, year after year, to create an integral aspect of the festival, which gives people a chance to reconnect and balance themselves before launching back into the festivities and fun.

A variety of treatments will be on offer: Holistic massage, Therapeutic/Sports Injury massage, Deep Tissue massage, Indian Head massage, Shiatsu, Ayurvedic Yoga massage, Acupuncture/Acupressures, Bamboo massage, BioDynamic CranioSacral therapy, Aroma Touch, Reiki, Reflexology, and Lomi/Lomi massage.

Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, Co Westmeath for the 2014 Body&Soul Festival. A weekend of magical theatrics, awe-inspiring art, family fun and adventures throughout the stunning grounds of the Ballinlough Estate. Limited Tickets available for Sunday. www.bodyandsoul.ie PICTURE: Allen Kiely PICTURE: Allen Kiely

  • The Health Farm (Cloona)

Elsewhere, if festivals and camping aren't quite your bag, there are a handful of top-notch destinations hosting wellness retreats all year round. One we've heard wonderful things about is the Cloona Health Retreat in Westport, County Mayo, where residents can take part in a three or five-day course. Interestingly, they're the only dedicated detox retreat centre in all of Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales. We didn't know that.

A retreat that certainly would have attracted the likes of Steve Jobs in his hippy days, this gem is set against a backdrop of some of the most rejuvenating scenery you're likely to find. Run by Dhara Kelly, son of the founder, and an experienced team, the retreats currently include yoga, walking, meditation, sauna, massage, wheatgrass, juice fasting, and various other cutting edge practises and treatments.

Set just a mile from the sea in the heritage town of Westport, Cloona offers a calm, secluded, soulful environment in which gentle detoxing is supported by a team of experienced therapists whose work is guided by an ethos of respect, dedication and warm professionalism. Benefits of a course here range from clarity of mind, increased physical energy, brighter eyes, clearer skin, toning of muscles, weight loss, improved memory and creativity, renewed sense of purpose, new friendships, self-discovery, amelioration of many existing health conditions, enhanced responsiveness, greater awareness, co-ordination... the list goes on and on and on.

Whatever your aspiration is, be it a detox holiday, to re-energize your system, retreat from the world, find space for meditation or simply fine-tune your body, you will find the answer at Cloona, and you can choose to opt in for a specific course depending on what it is you're after. We can already feel ourselves loosening up, can't you?

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  • Yoga on the Cliffs of Moher...

From June 25th to July 1st, Michelle Moroney (read about her here) is running a week-long yoga and mindfulness retreat at The Cliffs of Moher Retreat. The total price is €890 for six nights but what you'll gain in terms of personal wellness will be worth every penny. Even just looking at the scenery against which this course is set, we're floating off on a cloud.

Here, you're invited to step out of your busy life and into a space free from clock time, without the click-clacking of computers or the beeping of car horns. Allow yourself to fall into a more relaxed and deeply nourishing state of being, in which days are filled with mindful meditations, long silent walks and rejuvenating yoga while evenings revolve around nutritious organic food and deep, happy sleep.

The course price includes: six nights accommodation, all of the yoga and meditation classes, arrival drinks and snacks, breakfast and lunch daily, dinner for five nights, three guided walks including the Cliffs of Moher, use of sauna and wood fire hot tub at specified times (weather permitting) and lastly tea, coffee and herbal teas available all day long. In a word; heaven. Read more and sign up here.

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  • Magical Monart...

We're not sure we could ever tire of the beauty and tranquillity of Monart, arguably Ireland's finest destination spa (and certainly a favourite of Beaut.ie's readers, given its recent award win).

Call us lazy, but for us, a retreat isn't complete without a touch of luxurious indulgence and at least a back massage. Monart has a wealth of retreat choices on offer, including a Reform Pilates Retreat Weekend (with delightfully flexible dates), and a two-night Rejuvenating Escape that sounds right up our street (€249 pp sharing).

Until August 31st, their summer rejuvenation package includes a treatment that goes a little like this: Summer Fruits Facial, Summer Foot Treatment, Voya Sea Salt Scrub, Vitality Back Massage. Are we there yet? Book here.


  • Urban renewal...

Lastly, if it's some urban rejuvenation you're after where time isn't exactly on  your side, we've tried our hand at Valerie Kent's super restorative yoga workshops and we can't speak highly enough of them. The only trouble you'll have is picking yourself up off the ground after the final, sleep-inducing savasana.

As the longest day of summer draws ever closer, Valerie and those in attendance will celebrate the sun and the summer solstice in the Fumbally Stables studio on Saturday 25th June. This sun salutation inspired session is suitable for anyone who wants to move, stretch and re-energise. All levels of practitioner are very welcome and free to work at your own pace. Everything is optional! It's advised that you reserve your mat space in advance online. Get in touch here.

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