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5 Day Connecting with Horses Yoga Retreat in Clare Island, County Mayo

Macalla Farm, Clare Island, County Mayo, Ireland

Horsemanship and Mindfulness Yoga Retreat Ireland

Join this unique course to learn how to use mind, body, and breath to communicate with horses. The course involves daily yoga and meditation practice along with a lot of outdoor activities with the horses. It is suitable both for people with and with no previous experience with horses as well as for those who are more comfortable in relating to these wonderfully sensitive animals. Truly a one-of-a-kind retreat you don't want to miss!

Meet the instructors

Ciara & Christophe
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  • Daily yoga classes
  • Daily meditation practice
  • Mindful movement and breath awareness
  • Afternoon session with the horses (does not include riding)
  • Daily organic vegetarian meals
  • 4 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate

Yoga styles

4 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 8 participants
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  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Garden
  • Kitchen
  • Smoke-free property
  • Special menu request
  • Yoga studio

The accommodation at Macalla Farm is comfortable and relaxing with beautiful views of Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick. Two buildings make up for accommodation; one an ecologically renovated cottage built at the turn of the last century and a renovated outbuilding known as the extension. Both of these houses are strictly non-smoking and do not have a Wi-Fi, television, microwave, or hair dryer. All bed linen is provided except for towels, which you will need to bring with you.

You will be staying in one of the shared rooms. A limited number of single rooms are available on a first-come first serve basis. If no single room is available at the farm, it is generally possible for the organizers to book a room at a local bread and breakfast at the same rate. The bread and breakfast is about 10 minutes walk from the center. It is also possible for you to camp at the center and avail of a 20 EUR per night discount. Children and pets are welcome.

Macalla Farm offers an abundance of space and an amazing island living experience. And while here, your taste buds will be awakened and your body nourished by their creative and delicious seasonal vegetarian fare made from using the freshest of ingredients grown right on the farm.


This is an intensive retreat that involves 5 hours of yoga and mindfulness practice every day, as well as a lot of time spent outdoors with the horses, and for this reason, a good level of physical fitness is recommended. Note that this course isn’t about and does not involve horse riding.

The course

The course starts on in the evening of Wed 22nd of July with dinner followed by an introductory talk and a short meditation and finishes in the morning of Sunday 26th of July after brunch, in time for the lunchtime boat.

Each day starts with two hours of breath awareness and mindful movement, followed by a healthy brunch.

In the early afternoon, we spend sometimes outdoors with the farm’s horses. In these afternoon sessions, we look at how horses communicate with each other and learn how to use yoga and mindfulness techniques to connect with them more effectively.

In the late afternoon, we meet for another indoor session in which we explore the Sati yoga approach to breathwork, which combines mindfulness of breathing practices from the Buddhist tradition and classical pranayama (yogic breathing) techniques, and we look at how this approach can be used to communicate more effectively with horses.

Daily schedule

Wednesday evening

  • 17:20 Leave Roonagh pier
  • 18:00 Arrive at the farm
  • 18:30 pm Dinner followed by an introductory talk
  • 20:30 Introduction to sitting meditation

Thursday to Saturday

  • 08:30 Meditation/breath awareness
  • 09:00 Mindful movement
  • 11:00 Brunch
  • 12:00 Karma yoga or free time for hill walking, reading, relaxing
  • 14:30 Afternoon session with the horses
  • 16:30 Walking meditation
  • 17:00 Afternoon breathwork class
  • 18:30 Dinner
  • 20:30 Sitting meditation


  • 08:30 Meditation/breath awareness
  • 09:00 Mindful movement
  • 11:00 Brunch
  • 12:30 Depart center for 1 pm ferry

Please take note that times of ferries may change as they are weather dependent


Ciara Cullen


Retreat location

This retreat takes place at Macalla Farm, Ireland. Macalla Farm is a small, family run retreat center and working organic farm situated on Clare Island off the West coast of Ireland at the entrance to Clew Bay. The largest of the off-shore Mayo islands, it has a varied terrain made up of spectacular cliffs with large numbers of nesting sea birds and a rich inland topography of hills, bogs, and small pockets of woodland making it ideal for hill walking.

The island’s complex history can be read through its landscape that ranges from archaeological remains of the Neolithic and Bronze age to rare medieval wall-paintings in the 14th-century abbey, to the pirate queen Grace O’Malley’s (Grainneuaile) castle, and burial place.

Everywhere there are traces of past generations, most significantly the 19th-century population explosion and subsequent famine when the island’s population of 1600 was reduced by half. Old potato ridges or lazy beds are everywhere - the evening sun reveals them jutting out from the land. The island has been much studied, with the R.L. Praeger’s The Clare Island Survey perhaps the most well known. The island has a few bed and breakfast, a hostel with a bar and restaurant, a community center, pub, and one shop which is also the post office.

Nearby place

  • Harbor, 1.5 miles
  • Main beach, 1.5 miles
  • Pub, 1.5 miles
  • Shop, 2 miles
  • Westport, 14 miles



  • Cooking classes
  • Mountain walking / trekking nearby
  • Swimming nearby


  • Bar nearby
  • Beach nearby
  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Garden
  • Kitchen
  • Restaurant nearby
  • Smoke-free property
  • Special menu request
  • Yoga studio


  • Library
  • Convenience / grocery store nearby

This Yoga Retreat is vegetarian-friendly

Click to see more vegetarian-friendly Yoga Retreats


Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the price. All meals are vegetarian and prepared fresh with locally and organically sourced ingredients. At Macalla Farm, they are interested in all aspects of food, including where it comes from, how it is grown, how it is prepared, and how it is eaten.

Claire and Christophe pay great attention to the quality of ingredients they use, nearly all the produce used are organic or home grown. They are vegetarian and the food on all the courses is strictly vegetarian (with vegan and gluten free options on request). Over the years, as they grow more of their own food, producing, and eating meals that are both delicious and healthy, it has become clear to them that food must not only sustain, but nurture as well.

Through the food they serve on their courses and retreats, as well as their seasonal vegetarian cooking courses and mindful eating retreats, they hope to inspire you to eat with this fuller consciousness. One can then re-discover the satisfaction that comes from connecting with real food, food that has been grown in soil that is rich with vitality, prepared in a kitchen with attention and care, and eaten with awareness.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Organic
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

  • Borrow books from the extensive library at the venue
  • Explore the beautiful archaeological and historic sites of the island
  • Go hiking or bird watching in the amazing natural surroundings

What's included

  • 4 nights accommodation
  • Afternoon sessions with the horses
  • Daily meditation practice
  • Daily organic vegetarian meals
  • Daily yoga classes
  • Mindful movement and breath awareness
  • Understanding behavior and communication patterns of horses
  • Using posture, movement, breath, and eye contact to communicate with horses

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers
  • Ferry fare to the island (17 EUR)
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Driving direction from Westport

  • From Westport, take the coast road to Louisburgh (10 miles) and drive straight through Louisburgh.
  • About a quarter of a mile after the village, just after the Nomadic Display factory on the right, take a right turn to Roonagh (the road is clearly signposted for Roonagh Pier and Clare Island).
  • It is a further four miles to the pier; allow a good 35 minutes from Westport to Roonagh.

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Dublin Airport (DUB) or Ireland West Airport Knock (NOC).

Arrival by bus

There are good bus and train connections to Westport. There are direct buses from Dublin Airport (DUB) to Dublin Heuston train station (called Airlink, route 747 - this journey takes about an hour). There are also bus connections from Dublin, Galway, Sligo, and Ireland West Airport Knock (NOC).

If coming by bus or train, you need to be in Westport by 4:00 p.m. For scheduled retreats and courses, Macalla Farm will try to put you in touch with another course participant who can give you a lift from Westport, or if numbers warrant, they will organize a shared minibus (expect to pay between 10 to 15 EUR depending on numbers).

Arrival by ferry

When the organizers confirm your booking onto one of the retreats or residential courses, they will let you know which ferry you should take on the first day of the course. As long as you take the designated ferry, the boat fare is included in the course fee and they will organize your transfer to the farm from the harbor on the island. If you take another ferry, please let them know by text or phone. Also, make sure that you are on the right boat, the ferry for Inishturk also leaves from Roonagh quay, and may be at the same time. Note that if for whatever reason you arrive on the island with an earlier or later ferry, you will have to make your own arrangements for travel and (if need be) accommodation.

Roonagh Pier is the harbor serving Clare Island. If you are bringing your car, there is a large car park where you will leave your car (as it is not practical to take it to the island on the ferry). The car park is safe, with two CCTV cameras, and is used by islanders.

Ferries are great for a slower journey and the costs are about the same - though the stress and environmental impacts are much lower! Ferries to Dublin or Dun Laoghaire (a few miles south of Dublin) can be taken from Holyhead (UK). For those coming from the UK who do not wish to fly, a Sail Rail ticket is a great deal.

There are also ferry services from Scotland to Belfast, from South Wales to Rosslare, and from France to Rosslare or Cork.

Arrival by train

The train from Dublin to Westport leaves from Dublin Heuston station and takes around three and a half hours. To arrive in Westport in time, you will need to take the lunch time train. Ireland’s train travel website is IrishRail. If you are planning to travel by train, it is usually far cheaper to book your journey online at IrishRail in advance, rather than buying your ticket at the station on the day.

Arrival by taxi

If you need your own taxi, expect to pay around 35 EUR for the run from Westport to Roonagh Pier.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 50% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Quality of activity
5 days / 4 nights
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Arrival: Wednesday July 22, 2020
Departure: Sunday July 26, 2020

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