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Stories That We Tell: the Art of Creating Stories

with world-renowned travel writer ~ Rory MacLean

(4 days, 3 nights)
€985 ~ €1,495
10 people only, delicious and healthy meals. All included.
If you would like to be on our waiting list or mailing list for future dates, please email us.

Four days on a peaceful, private island
with designated time to focus on your writing projects.
Enjoy workshops and personal guidance from Rory MacLean
and optional peer-to-peer feedback and advice from your fellow writers.



At the heart of the finest memoirs, histories, family narratives and travel books is a writer's passion.  Whether you are yet to put pen to paper or have a manuscript on the go, this weekend provides a chance for you to explore your passions, obsessions or memories and to develop your work in a supportive and inspiring environment. 


With workshops, exercises and personal one-to-one discussions, Rory will offer detailed advice on motivation, starting points, structure, character and dialogue, exploring the transformation of experience — our own and others’, real and imagined — into stories and books.



Vancouver-born Rory MacLean is one of Britain's most expressive and adventurous non-fiction writers.  His books – which have been translated into a dozen languages — include UK top ten Stalin's Nose and Under the Dragon as well as Berlin: Imagine a City, "the most extraordinary work of history I've ever read," according to the Washington Post which named it a Book of the Year.  He has won awards from the Canada Council and the Arts Council of England and was nominated for the  International IMPAC Dublin Literary prize.

In his humanitarian work, Rory has written about the missing civilians of the Yugoslav Wars for the International Committee of the Red Cross; on divided Cyprus for the UN's Committee on Missing Persons; and on North Korea for the British Council.  On the publication of his latest book Pravda Ha Ha: Truth, Lies and the End of Europe, the late John le Carré wrote "MacLean must surely be the outstanding, and most indefatigable, traveller-writer of our time.”  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Read more about Rory @

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Our in-house island chef will provide you with luxurious vegetarian meals throughout your stay.


€1,245 to €1,495

(further concessions available for room sharing and Lambay Club Patrons)

includes Lambay boat transfers, accommodation, all meals, regular refreshments, workshops and sessions, materials.

Your all-inclusive retreat package includes €50 for the return boat transfer between Ireland and Lambay (departing from Malahide, just north of Dublin airport).  The journey takes 20 minutes in a covered RIB, 12 seats and lifejackets are provided.


Dubliners and Patrons of the Lambay Club are eligible for discounted rates, please enquire.

Included in rates:

  • Lambay boat transfers at beginning and end of your retreat

  • Writing workshops, group and 1-2-1 advice sessions with Rory Maclean

  • Luxurious island accommodation for 3 nights / 4 days in the Whitehouse on Lambay

  • All locally sourced, seasonal meals prepared by your private island retreat chef: 3 breakfasts, 2/3 lunches, 3 dinners

  • Morning and afternoon refreshments (tea, coffee, cake, fruit)

  • Optional wild swim and guided wildlife walk (see the seals, puffins, deer and wallabies!)

  • Use of island wi-fi, sitting rooms, library, gardens, and local know-how

  • Tea/coffee, herbal infusions and soft drinks available all day (self-serve)

  • Personal welcome hosting from the resident Baring family during your island stay

Not included: 

  • Travel to Ireland and transportation to Malahide Marina from where the Lambay boat departs (boat transfers included)

  • Travel Insurance (highly recommended as there will be no refunds for travel changes)

  • Extras or mainland expenses

An optional private tour of Lambay Castle can be arranged during the retreat.  This is at an additional cost of €35 per person (minimum five people / €175 total).


Our hope is that our retreats will be able to go ahead as planned, and we will be taking all possible precautions to protect against COVID-19 throughout the retreat.  However, in the event that we are forced to cancel the retreat due to government restrictions or safety guidelines, you will receive a full refund (less any bank transfer fees) or the option to defer your payment to the new retreat dates once confirmed.

We politely request that all participants provide proof of full vaccination and/or a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival on Lambay.

Registration & Further Info:

To register, make payment or for any questions, please write to



  • Writers' Meet & Greet in Malahide

  • Boat Transfer to Lambay from Malahide Marina (if the tides dictate a later transfer, the first workshop will take place in Malahide Castle - optional tour available)

  • Island Welcome on the Pier by the Lambay resident family

  • Time to settle in with a hot drink and refreshments 

  • Dinner in the Whitehouse

  • After dinner a relaxed, first Introduction workshop


  • Breakfast in the Whitehouse

  • Writing Session 1 - Starting Points: the Idea and Motive

  • Morning Coffee

  • Writing Session 2 - Structure, Turning Points and Epiphany

  • Light Luncheon

  • Individual one-to-one sessions with Rory

  • Afternoon Tea

  • Optional Feedback Session with the group and Rory

  • Optional Tour of Lutyens Castle with the resident family (additional cost)

  • Drinks & Dinner

  • Fireside Chats & Whiskey


  • Breakfast

  • Writing Session 3 - Capturing a Spirit of Place

  • Morning Coffee

  • Writing Session 4 - Character in Action, and Meeting your Character

  • Sunday Lunch

  • Individual one-to-one sessions

  • Nature Walk to Summit of the island - chance to Walk & Talk and spot wallabies, deer and a variety of birdlife

  • Time for a hot soak

  • Drinks & Dinner

  • Relaxed Final Feedback and Q&A with Rory by the fire


  • Breakfast

  • Boat transfer to mainland

  • Farewell lunch in Malahide (optional, additional cost)

Tea/Coffee is available throughout the day on a self-service basis.  Please inform us in good time of any allergies or dietary requirements.  Hypo-allergenic bedding is also available on advanced request.


During your stay on Lambay, the Whitehouse will be your home and your writing haven.​  Built in 1933 for the two daughters of Cecil & Maude Baring, this charming Lutyens guesthouse has eight beautifully appointed guest bedrooms with private en suites; or adjoining wet rooms, shared one between two rooms with a private entrance hall.

Each bedroom has a super-king bed capable of conversion to two single beds, with mattress protectors, duvets and two pillows per bed. Extra blankets are available should they be desired.  Electric blankets are not permitted on the island's off-grid energy supply, however hot bottles are provided in case of cold weather.


The two central bathrooms have showers; the corner room en suites have bath-shower combinations and the end rooms have luxury en suites with freestanding baths and separate showers.  The first floor (upstairs) is reserved for hospitality staff.



Please let us know if you would like to request a particular bedroom.


For more information on what to do and see while on the island, please visit our On Lambay page.


BOOTS - There is a large number of Wellington boots in a range of sizes, which you are welcome to borrow during your stay.


Please make your way to Malahide as soon as you have arrived into Ireland from abroad.


Dublin Airport to Malahide

Malahide is approximately 20 minutes by road from Dublin Airport; a regular size taxi costs approximately €15-20.


Dublin Ferry Port to Malahide

Malahide is approximately 35 minutes by road from Dublin Ferry Port; a regular size taxi costs approximately €30-35.

Directions to Malahide Town Centre

If you wish to stop off in town for supplies, head for Gibney's of Malahide on New Street, a traditional local pub in the centre of Malahide town.  This is well placed between all the most useful shops (Boots, SuperValu, Donnybrook Fair) and restaurants/cafés if you have time for a bite to eat.  The Marina Centre is a five minute walk from Gibney's and the town centre.


If heading straight for the Marina, tell your taxi driver to drive through the Marina Village (under the arch) and straight to the end where you will see a giant anchor sculpture by the Marina Centre.  Our Lambay boat skipper will meet you outside White’s Laundry at the allotted time.  


POLITE NOTICE:  It is important that you do not enter the Marina Centre at any time unless accompanied by the Lambay boat Captain, as it is private property.

The boat transfers to/from Lambay adhere to the tides and, as such, must depart promptly at the scheduled time.

For those with flights, we strongly recommend flights that leave a minimum of 4 hours (preferably 6 hours) between your flight arrival/departure times and the scheduled boat transfer time.  Please be ready at the designated meeting spot by the Marina 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time.

20kg limit on luggage per person on the boats.


Weather in Ireland (and especially on islands) can be chilly, but the sun can be lovely and warming.  So bring many lightweight layers for maximum flexibility - hat and gloves recommended in early Spring or Autumn.


Days on Lambay are often bright and sunny but weather on the island changes fast and you must be prepared for rain and strong winds.


Bring layers and waterproofs to enjoy Lambay outdoors, and cosy slippers or socks for indoors where you can warm up by the cosy fire in the Whitehouse.

Plenty of Wellington boots on the island!

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