Writer’s Grail 2014
A Writer’s Journey to the Holy Island of Iona
and Sacred Scotland
with Kathleen McGowan & Eleanor O’Rourke
September 12 – 21, 2014
Scotland is still one of the more untouched regions in the western world, which means it has been able to retain the essence of its mythical past. From Rosslyn Chapel to the magical island of Iona, Scotland has thrilled millions of people over several millennia, yet it still feels “un-touristed” and pure.
Scotland is also the birthplace of some of the most celebrated and memorable writers in the English language, inspiring the classic works of literary giants Sir Walter Scott and Robbie Burns. From Robert Louis Stevenson to JK Rowling, the deep mysticism of Scotland has given rise to characters as memorable as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Harry Potter. In this tour, we step into the footsteps of Scottish authors, Celtic initiates, those who entered the Celtic Fairy Realm, and many more legendary and historical figures as we search for and share our own inspiration.
Please note that this is not a “tour” per se – it is a spiritual and historical journey designed to inspire writers of all genres and at all levels of accomplishment. We will travel to fascinating sites as well as spend hours together on Iona in seminar and intimate writing workshops. Nor is this a “writing class.” There will be no discussions on grammar or spelling! This is about inspiration, about getting to the core of your being as a writer, about taking you through important questions like: Why do you write? What do you want to express to the world, and why? What makes you authentic and special, and what inspires you at your greatest level of intensity?
The writing workshops are designed for fiction and non-fiction writers, and we will construct the overall seminar events based around the needs of the group as we see them. A preliminary questionnaire will be sent to you about your writing goals and desires for the workshop in advance.
Your Hosts on the journey:
Kathleen McGowan is the international bestselling author of The Magdalene Line series, inspired by her own adventures and experiences in Europe. Published in 50 languages and over 100 countries worldwide, Kathleen is one of the most widely distributed fiction authors in the world. An expert on the early Christian and Celtic traditions in which she was raised, Kathleen will take you to many of the locations which have inspired her current and future books. Her series, Legends of the Divine Feminine, launched in August of 2012 with a re-telling of an extraordinary Scottish fairy tale, The Ballad of Tam Lin. We will visit locations where humans entered the fairy world – and vice versa – and where the veil is still very thin between our world and the Otherworld. Don’t wander off!!
Eleanor O’Rourke, Creativity Coach and writer, grew up in Liverpool during the time of the Beatles and the Beat Poets. Feeling inadequate in the face of such genius, she gave up on her own creativity and went to work in the creative industries of Rock and Roll and Advertising. Eventually something had to give and during a soul searching discovery, outlined in 40 Days 40 Nights, One Woman’s Quest to Reclaim Her Creative Mojo, she mapped out a framework for breaking through writer’s block. She now supports people on their own journey to experience the true joy of self-expression.
Friday, September 12, 2014 to Edinburgh (D)
Upon your arrival at Edinburgh Airport (EDI), transfer (depending on the time of your arrival) to our hotel in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful and liveliest cities in Europe and despite popular belief, actually has less annual rain fall than Rome! Depending on when you arrive, you will have time to wander a bit on your own or rest after your flight. In the evening, we will have our welcome dinner while Kathleen and Eleanor discuss how this Writer’s Grail adventure will unfold. Overnight in Edinburgh.
Saturday, September 13, 2014 in Edinburgh (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we explore Edinburgh, making our way up the Royal Mile to visit Edinburgh Castle, the great medieval fortress that dominates the city. Built upon a rocky outcrop sacred to the ancients, we will explore the rich history of the Castle. Here we view the famous Stone of Destiny and hear the many stories that have inspired writers for centuries: it is the stone pillow on which the Biblical Jacob had a vision of angels climbing a ladder to and from heaven; it is the stone brought by Princess Scotia, a daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, from Egypt (Scotia gave her name to the nation of Scotland). We will have a memorable lunch at the superbly atmospheric and gastronomic “Witchery by the Castle” which has a haunted history and happens to be Kathleen’s favorite restaurant in the world, literally!
Afterwards, there is time to explore the city on your own and indulge in some of its fantastic shopping around Princes and George Street, or explore gorgeous and historic St Giles Cathedral for more inspiration. Tonight, be prepared for the thrills of a guided “ghost walk” through the streets of Edinburgh, where we will encounter the spirits which appear here at night! Overnight in Edinburgh.
Sunday, September 14, 2014 in Edinburgh to Rosslyn (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we make our way to Rosslyn Chapel, the magical 15th century chapel just outside of Edinburgh. For years, the small and enigmatic chapel has featured in a number of publications, especially “The Da Vinci Code”, but also in many non-fiction books, including one by Philip Coppens, “The Stone Puzzle of Rosslyn Chapel.” A key character in Kathleen’s fiction series “Berenger Sinclair” was inspired by the family that built this chapel and has remained the chapel and nearby castle’s owners. There are hundreds of magical carvings, art work and so much more that will initiate us into the true history and purpose of this sanctuary. We are hoping to announce a surprise guest guide and author to join us at Rosslyn, schedules permitting. Lunch will be at the charming Grail Restaurant at the famous Rosslyn Hotel. We return to Edinburgh, where in the evening, we will be treated to an evening Literary Pub Crawl where we will meet characters from Scotland’s literary past, followed by dinner at a local pub. Overnight in Edinburgh.
Monday, September 15, 2014 to Loch Lomond (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we leave Edinburgh for beautiful Aberfoyle in the picturesque Trossachs, and on to Fairy Knowe and Doon Hill. Here legend recalls the Scottish mystic Rev. Robert Kirk was stolen away by the Fairy Queen after spending his adult life cataloguing fairy activity in the Scottish Classic “The Secret Commonwealth”. We visit the graveyard of his reputed burial and have a light lunch in Aberfoyle. We journey to Loch Lomond via Rob Roy Country, the land of the “Scottish Robin Hood” celebrated in a classic work by Sir Water Scott. This afternoon, we will have our first official Writers Grail discussion session at our hotel. Overnight and dinner in spectacular Loch Lomond.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 to Iona (B,D)
Depart for Oban, where we take our afternoon ferry to the Isle of Mull, home of the storied MacLean clan. From Mull, we take a smaller, quick ferry to Iona, one of the most sacred and mystical locations in the world. Before Christianity, it was the heart of the Druid religion; afterwards, it became the center of Celtic Christianity. We have the rare privilege of being accommodated at the very special St Columba Hotel, set in a spectacular location on the island’s edge. We will be able to explore the island at night and in the early morning and be completely absorbed by its magic and inspiration. When Kathleen and Eleanor were here together in 2013, they knew it was the perfect place to inspire a select group of intrepid writers. And here we are!
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 on Iona (B,D)
Thursday, September 18, 2014 on Iona (B,D)
Friday, September 19, 2014 on Iona (B,D)
Writer’s Grail Program Intensive – seminar details to be released at a later date, as they will be impacted by the personalized needs of our seminar participants. All days on Iona will include full breakfast and dinner, seminar intensives, but also free time for writing, break out discussions and exploring. We will journey by boat to the Isle of Staffa and Fingal’s Cave on one of the days, which may vary depending on weather.
Saturday, September 20, 2014 to Edinburgh (B,D)
Depart Iona by ferry to Mull where our coach meets us and we continue to the ferry port of Craignure and back to the picturesque port of Oban where we have some free time for independent exploration, shopping and lunch on our own. Then back to Edinburgh for a bit of rest time before we have our farewell dinner. Overnight in Edinburgh.
Sunday, September 21, 2014 (B)
Tour ends after breakfast as you take the hotel shuttle to the Edinburgh Airport (EDI) for your flight home.
Please read the Terms and Conditions for this program.
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Per Person in Double Occupancy room:
$4,850 payments via check or money order
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Deposits and Payments
Your deposit secures your place on the tour and is non-refundable unless your seat is either transferred by yourself or we can resell it.
Check or Money Order Payment Schedule in Double occupancy room:
$1,800 deposit due on booking to hold space
$1,525 2nd installment due by May 31, 2014
$1,525 final installment due by July 11, 2014
Credit Card or PayPal Payment Schedule in Double occupancy room:
$1,880 deposit due on booking to hold space
$1,585 2nd installment due by May 31, 2014
$1,585 final installment due by July 11, 2014
Check or Money Order Payment Schedule in Single occupancy room:
$2,000 deposit due on booking to hold space
$1,850 2nd installment due by May 31, 2014
$1,850 final installment due by July 11, 2014
Credit Card or PayPal Payment Schedule in Single occupancy room:
$2,100 deposit due on booking to hold space
$1,915 2nd installment due by May 31, 2014
$1,915 final installment due by July 11, 2014
We act only in the capacity as an agent for the passengers in all matters connected with lodging accommodations, sight-seeing tours and land transportation in Scotland and shall not be responsible or liable for any injury, loss, theft, accident, health impairment, delay, irregularity or incident resulting from strikes, weather, fuel outages, government regulations or Acts of God. Nor shall they be responsible for any act or omission of any individual or organization providing the transportation, services or accommodations in connection with this journey, nor any delay or expense incurred due to disruption or revision of schedules, not for any cause beyond its control. We retain the right to withdraw a tour or decline to accept any person as a member of the tour or make changes in the published itinerary whenever in sole judgment of conditions warrant or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience or safety of the passengers. We are not responsible for any physical, emotional reaction or trauma or ailment, during the tour or occurring after the tour.
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