Poets at Carrowholly

Westport, Ireland



Join Irish poets Sean Lysaght and Nessa O'Mahony for six days of poetry and discovery in the West of Ireland. Limited to 12 poets, morning workshops will take place in the intimate setting of Holly Hill, a private seaside residence outside of Westport, in County Mayo. Your itinerary includes excursions to Ballycroy National Park and the Museum of Country Life, with plenty of free time to write, enjoy a meal in town, and take in the craic* at one of Westport's many pubs. A public poetry reading featuring the instructors and workshop participants rounds out your Ireland adventure!

*Craic (/kræk/ KRAK) or crack is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland. It is often used with the definite article – the craic – as in the expression "What's the craic?"

Hosted by Seattle-based poets T. Clear and Mary Eliza Crane.

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Dublin Poet Nessa O'Mahony

Westport Poet Seán Lysaght

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Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park

Event Tuition

  • $850 workshop tuition per person: includes five days of instruction and individual mentoring, limited to 12 participants; daily transportation from your lodging to and from Holly Hill, excursions to Ballycroy National Park and Museum of Country Life, participation in a public poetry reading at the end of the event, refreshments at Sunday night Meet & Greet, snacks and lunches at Holly Hill.



  • A block of rooms is reserved at The Wyatt Hotel, in downtown Westport, six nights bed & breakfast, for an additional €600. Note: this is our group rate at The Wyatt Hotel, and the price is US dollars will be based on the July 15, 2020 exchange rate.

  • Each room has two twin beds. The rate is 100 euros per night for six nights, per room, inclusive of breakfast, for a total of 600 euros.

  • If you are traveling with a companion who will share your room, the price remains the same.

  • Because our contract with Wyatt Hotel requires pre-payment by the organizers with one credit card, and has a deadline for room cancellation, we MUST have full payment of 600 euros by July 31, 2020.

  • You are welcome to choose other lodgings, but note that The Wyatt Hotel will be the central pick up and drop off location for the daily workshops at Holly Hill. Westport is not large, and any lodgings “centrally located” should be an easy walk to the Wyatt. If you chose a more peripheral location, you will be responsible for getting yourself to The Wyatt. Before booking an alternative, make sure you know where it is located.

  • There is a wide variety of other lodgings in Westport, from a hostel to B&B's to 5-star hotels. A list of lodgings is available here.

  • Not included: airfare and connecting ground transportation to and from Westport, lodging other than at The Wyatt Hotel, lunches at Ballycroy and The Museum of Country Life, dinners and any other extras not specified in the sections above.

Workshop Particulars

*Please bring either a laptop computer or paper/pen/pencil to each workshop. Note: there is no internet access for computers at Holly Hill. However, depending on your cell phone provider, internet access may be available from your phone.

  • Monday: Westport poet Seán Lysaght will lead a discussion about the influence of place and space on the writer's work. The session will be inclusive, with participants invited to contribute by reading extracts from their own or a favourite writer's work.

  • Tuesday: Join Seán for a field trip to Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, where our morning workshop will take place in the Visitor Center classroom. After lunch, Seán will lead a walk through a peatland wilderness in the catchment of the Owenduff river, weather permitting. Group members who do not wish to go on the walk are welcome to remain at the visitor center.

  • Wednesday-Friday: The Mayo landscape has provided the backdrop to some extraordinary history over the centuries. Dublin-based poet Nessa O'Mahony has written extensively about her own County Mayo ancestors. Join her in a three-day exploration of how poets can draw on family histories to nourish their poetry and generate poetic narratives. Over three days, Nessa will use a variety of approaches to explore how to make use of our own family histories and how to effectively use sources, as well as the creative and ethical issues involved.

Daily Schedule

Sunday, 9/13

  • 4-6pm: meet your fellow workshop participants at An File (literally, "The Poet") for drinks and nibbles.

Monday, 9/14

  • 9:30am-12:30pm: workshop with Seán Lysaght

  • Break for catered lunch.

  • Individual mentoring sessions.

  • Holly Hill will be open throughout the afternoon. You are invited to stay to relax and enjoy the view or wander the many coves that wind the shore. Tea and snacks will be available.

Tuesday 9/15

  • 10:30am-12:30pm: workshop with Seán Lysaght at Ballycroy National Park.

  • 12:30pm: no-host lunch at visitor center cafe.

  • 1:30pm: weather permitting, we will take a 2k looped walk through the peatland wilderness of North Mayo. Note: though the terrain is not challenging, waterproof shoes and rain parka are recommended.

  • 4pm: depart for Westport.

Wednesday 9/16

  • 9:30am-12:30pm: workshop with Nessa O'Mahony

  • Break for catered lunch.

  • Individual mentoring sessions.

  • Holly Hill will be open throughout the afternoon. You are invited to stay to relax and enjoy the view or wander the many coves that wind the shore. Tea and snacks will be available.

Thursday 9/17

  • 9:30am-12:30pm: workshop with Nessa O'Mahony.

  • 12:30pm: excursion to the Museum of Country Life (a short ride), no-host lunch at museum cafe, afternoon to explore the museum. Free admission.

  • 5pm: depart for Westport.

Friday 9/18

  • 9:30am-12:30pm: workshop with Nessa O'Mahony.

  • Break for catered lunch

  • Individual mentoring sessions.

  • Holly Hill will be open throughout the afternoon. You are invited to stay to relax and enjoy the view or wander the many coves that wind the shore. Tea and snacks will be available.

  • 6pm: group no-host dinner at Pantry and Corkscrew.

  • 8pm: public poetry reading featuring workshop instructors and workshop participants.

Getting To Westport

  • The closest international airport to Westport for flights originating in the US is Shannon Airport.

  • From Shannon: there is daily bus service to Westport. For schedules and ticket prices, click here.

  • From Dublin: there is daily train service to Westport from the Dublin-Heuston station. For schedules and ticket prices, click here.

  • Car rentals are available at both the Dublin and Shannon airports. The drive from Dublin to Westport is around 4 hours. Shannon to Westport is 2 hours.

Your Hosts

Seattle poet T. Clear has traveled extensively in the West of Ireland, and confesses a particular love for the wild landscapes of County Mayo. Her first poems appeared in print at age 18, and she has published continuously for 40+ years in many journals, including Poetry Northwest, The Moth, Cirque Journal, Sheila-Na-Gig, Scoundrel Time, The Rise Up Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, and numerous anthologies.  She has been nominated for both a Pushcart Prize and Independent Best American Poetry award, is a founder of Floating Bridge Press, facilitates the monthly workshop Re/Write, and is a curator for Easy Speak Seattle. Her website can be found here.

Mary Eliza Crane finds the wet and blustery landscape in the west of Ireland resonant of her home in the Cascade foothills of the Pacific Northwest. A familiar feature at poetry venues throughout the Puget Sound region, Mary has read her poetry from Woodstock to LA, as well as with Siberian poets in Novosibirsk, Russia. She has two volumes of poetry, What I Can Hold In My Hands and At First Light, both published by Gazoobi Tales Press. Her work has appeared in many journals including Raven Chronicles, Pudding Magazine, The Cartier Street Review, Tuesday Poem, and Avocet, as well as several anthologies, including Cradle Songs: An Anthology of Poetry on Motherhood, The LitFUSE Anthology, WA 129 Poets of Washington, and Bridge Above the Falls. Mary is co-curator and co-host of the Duvall Poetry Reading Series, a monthly event in her community since 2004.


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