Ireland: Creative Writing Workshop

Exciting Winter Break

Irene Graham's Creative Writer’s Workshop study abroad program guides you through simple and fun right-brain/left-brain exercises, which draw upon your imagination as you learn the principles of story and express your creativity through writing fiction, memoir, and autobiographical fiction.


Street musicians in downtown Galway

The workshop focuses upon characterization, point of view, theme, plot, setting, and structure. Memoir writing and myth, how to identify with one's personal myth, and how to translate this aspect of life experience into story will also be studied. Upon completion, you will understand how characters are created, how to develop them, and learn techniques to imaginatively incorporate your characters into the structure of story.

You will also concentrate upon theme within story and learn how to weave and integrate life experiences into autobiographical fiction. Throughout the workshop, participants are welcome to develop a concept they have previously worked on, or use the workshop to access new writing concepts.

Markree CastleMarkree Castle, a 14th Century Castle set in the heart of W.B. Yeats countryside amidst 500 acres of secluded woodlands and gardens. Lovingly restored by its owners, Markree Castle is the perfect writer’s haven offering peace, relaxation, and good food. Particpants stay here during the program.


May 25 - Arrive Galway.
Accommodation: House Hotel. Settle in.
7:00 pm Welcome Dinner

May 26 - May 29 - 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program

May 30 - 9:00 am to 12:00 pm Writing Program
1:15 - 3:30 pm Coach to Listowel Writer's Festival
Accommodation:Billeragh House

May 31- June 1Free days to visit the Listowel Writer's Festival

June 2 7:30 am Coach to Cliffs of Moher/Doolin
1:00 pm Ferry Doolin to Inis Oirr
3:00 pm Inis Oirr to Inis Mor Island
Accommodation: KilmurveyHouse

June 3 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program

June 4 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program
2:30 pm to 5:00 pm Guided Walk/Talk Mythology and Ancient Sites

June 5 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program
2:30 pm to 5:30 pm Guided Walk/Talk Mythology and Ancient Sites

June 6 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program
2:30 pm to 5:00 pm Guided Walk/Talk Mythology and Ancient Sites

June 7 8:15 am Ferry to Rossaveal 9:15 am Coach us to Galway City
Rest of day Free
Accommodation: Imperial Hotel

June 8 Free Morning
2:00 pm Depart for Markree Castle
Accommodations: Markree Castle

June 9 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program

June 10 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Guided Cultural Tour of W.B. Yeats Countryside

June 11-12 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program

June 13 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program
2:00 pm Coach to Westport via Connemara
Accommodation Hotel Westport

June 14 Free Day

June 15 Morning Free
3:00 pm Depart for Markree Castle
Accommodations: Markree Castle

June 16-17 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Writing Program

June 18 9:00 am to 11:00 am Writing Program

June 19 9:00 am to 12:00 am Writing Program
7:00 pm Celebration Dinner

June 20 Depart for Dublin
Accommodations: Harrington Hall

June 21-22 Free time in Dublin

June 23 - Depart for U.S. Or independent travel

view from a cafe in downtown Galway An Irish House

Required Reading

  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. London: Flamingo, 1997

  • The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. New York: Scribner, 2006

  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. New York: Little, Brown & Co, 2009

  • The Memoir Writing Workbook by Irene Graham (provided in Ireland)

Recommended Reading

  • Best American Essays introduced by Cheryl Strayed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013

Photo of Irene Graham

Irene Graham

Irene Graham, founder of The Creative Writer’s Workshop studied many genres of writing (Fiction Writing, Autobiographical Writing, Screenwriting, and Writing for Children) in the UCLA extension programme in Los Angeles in the late 80’s. Throughout this same period on the West Coast, Irene studied and trained in complementary methods of learning – particularly cognitive learning skills (Howard Gardner – Multi-Intelligences) and Psycho-synthesis in Education (Roberto Assagioli). Following this study period, Irene founded The Creative Writer’s Workshop, which is now an internationally renowned course and retreat for new and established writers. She is also the Founder of The Memoir Writing Club and author of The Memoir Writing Workbook.

Photo of Lisa Lister

Lisa Lister

Lisa is a writer, writing teacher and avid reader. She's the Assistant Director of Composition at George Mason University, where she also teaches literature and creative writing classes. She mentors graduate TAs and teaching faculty for the composition program and as a Faculty Fellow in Mason's Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence. She has an MFA in creative non-fiction from American University and is an Associate Editor of Non-Fiction at The Potomac Review. She has done freelance writing and book reviews for several local publications. 

Tentative Dates: May 25 - June 23, 2014

You should plan to leave the United States at least one day prior to the program start date to arrive in Ireland for the first day of the program. You can schedule your return to the United States from Ireland for the last day of the program or choose to travel independently.

Do not purchase your international airfare until you are advised to do so by your Program Officer.

Program Fee: $6967

The Center for Global Education Program Fee includes:

  • Tuition

  • Housing

  • All breakfasts

  • Guided tour W.B. Yeats

  • Guided walks to ancient sites on Inis Mor Island

  • Transportation during program - private coach transport from Galway to Listowel to Cliffs of Moher/Doolin, ferry to Inis Oirr and Mor Island, ferry/bus return to Galway City, coach to Sligo , coach to Westport

  • Welcome and End of Program Celebration Dinners

  • Tickets to Listowel Literary Festival

  • Guide on Inis Mor and Yeats Countryside Tour

  • Copy of The Memoir Writing Workbook

  • Administrative services in Ireland and at George Mason University

  • Pre-departure orientation

  • Emergency medical insurance, including medical evacuation and repatriation


Scholarships are available to George Mason students through the Center for Global Education as well as through outside resources.

CGE Scholarships

Open to George Mason University students who participate in CGE Winter Break and Summer Programs. CGE Scholarship amounts range from approximately $250 to $1,000 and are both merit- and need-based. Students who are awarded a Global Scholarship may volunteer to assist CGE in the promotion of study abroad upon their return.

CGE Scholarships Information Page

Financial Aid

Mason students may also use financial aid (external link to FAFSA Student Aid) to cover a program's cost. If you are not a George Mason university student check with your study abroad office or office of financial aid to learn more about how to cover the cost of your study abroad.

How to Apply

Consult the How to Apply section for detailed instructions.

  1. Start by completing the online application.

  2. Pay the $150 registration and processing fee ($200 for non-Mason).

Note that all supplemental documents are required by the application deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Contact the Program Officer for further application forms and instructions specific to your program.

*CGE reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, or any other unforeseen circumstances.