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Dùthchas and Everyday Celtic Spirituality – (LIMITED AVAILABILITY)

Image: Iona Abbey Grounds at night. Credit: Iona Community/ B. Forsyth

Dùthchas and Everyday Celtic Spirituality 22nd – 28th June 2024

(THIS WEEK IS NOW FULLY BOOKED; have a look at our available weeks on our programme page).

What is ‘Celtic Spirituality’? Where and how does Celtic Spirituality find expression in everyday life, past and present? What inspiration for the future can we glean from traditional place relations? How do our relationships with place, nature and the land affect our own spirituality?

As the climate crisis deepens and a growing sense of displacement spreads through contemporary society, come and reflect with us on the spiritual practice associated with Celtic culture, from the early missionaries to the peasants in the Highlands and Islands, to contemporary poets and thinkers.

The Gaelic concept of dùthchas entails an understanding of land, community, culture, belonging to place, and land-based learning. Together we will consider the spiritual foundations for such understanding, and how this may shape our everyday practice.

Drawing on the Celtic tradition from Columba (Colmcille) to the Carmina Gadelica, and on contemporary sources like Kenneth White’s ‘Geopoetics’ or John Moriarty’s ‘Dreamtime’, we explore ecological connections and everyday practices of respect for the earth, the responsibilities these may entail, and action we may be called to.

Short talks on sources will be combined with reflective sessions, outdoor (weather permitting) practice, and workshops on aspects of dùthchas. Preparatory readings will be circulated to registered participants in advance.


Dùthchas programme facilitators: Profs Mairéad Nic Craith and Ullrich (Ulli) Kockel.

Mairéad and Ulli are both Associate Members of the Iona Community and were regulars at Greenbelt before they moved to Scotland. They live on the outskirts of Edinburgh in a house full of books and bears overlooking the Pentland Hills. They enjoy culinary adventures, travelling and T’ai Chi (especially in the garden).

 Mairéad Nic Craith is a scholar, teacher and poet who grew up in Cork (Ireland). An Irish Gaelic speaker, she has been deeply influenced by spiritual writers from the Celtic tradition, such as John O’Donohue, Mark Patrick Hederman, and John Moriarty. She has contributed to Sunday Worship on BBC Radio 4. Mairéad has held chairs in Celtic Studies and Heritage; she is currently Professor of Public Folklore at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

 Ullrich Kockel is a former oil manager turned interdisciplinary academic who has dabbled freely across the arts, humanities and social sciences. Originally from (West) Germany, he has been an active member of German-speaking congregations since moving to the UK in the 1980s. His introduction to Celtic spirituality was through the work of German artist Joseph Beuys in Scotland and Ireland. Ullrich has held chairs in Irish Ethnology and Cultural Ecology; he is currently Professor of Creative Ethnology at the University of the Highlands and Islands.


6 Nights: £762 per adult, £381 for reduced rate – see our programme page for more information.