Dzogchen Beara review
A buddhist retreat in Ireland
The Quick Read: Dzogchen Beara is a lovely Tibetan Buddhist retreat centre on the unspoilt Beara Peninsula in Ireland under the spiritual direction of Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Set on high cliffs looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, it has views spectacular enough to cure the weariest of souls and runs meditation and Buddhism courses for people of all faiths or none, including those new to Buddhism and meditation. Come to learn to meditate, deepen an existing practice or stay on a self-catering basis and just soak up the vibe and the vistas. The retreat also runs a formidable spiritual care centre for the terminally ill or dying.
More on the meditation sessions & retreats: Everyone is welcome to join two daily guided meditation sessions, held in the spacious shrine room with floor to ceiling windows which enable you to look out to sea (in Tibetan Buddhist meditation, you keep your eyes open). There’s a general meditation session in the morning, and a Loving Kindness session in the afternoon. Two 45 minute walks can be enjoyed from the centre – beware of midges in the early evenings. There’s a large meditation garden, and a hand crafted Butter Lamp house on site. A full retreat programme covers Buddhist subjects such as meditation, listening and developing compassion. ‘Finding Peace’ is a particularly accessible weekend introduction to meditation. Read a word from the queen on her experience.
More on the accommodation: For space and time out, choose from three self-catering cottages, attractively and comfortably furnished and with huge windows looking out to sea. Two sleep six, and one is a studio-style cottage ideal for singles or couple. There is also a hostel, which feels rather like a student house, and the Potala, a huge Tibetan-style building set on a separate hill available for group hire. If you’re here on a group retreat, you arrange your own accommodation locally. Food is simple vegetarian. The place is so gloriously remote that it’s not easy to get to without a car. The nearest transport hub is Cork, 100 miles away – you can get a minibus from Cork to Castletownbeare, from where it’s a 7km taxi ride.
More on the spiritual care centre: Sogyal Rinpoche’s wish is to ‘inspire a quiet revolution in the way we look at death and care for the dying, and the whole way we look at life and care for the living’. In keeping with this, the retreat has a formidable spiritual care centre, Dechen Shying, for people dealing with long-term illness or who are facing death.
What’s lowly: The hostel feels like a student house – go for one of the self-catering cottages for proper time out here alone.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
© Queen of Retreats