At a kick-off public event, author Danny Morrison talked about his life and how he first became interested in creative writing, in an interview with international journalist, Sean Hillen.

Looking for the perfect vacation: unknown place, being with new people and doing something amazing, I found ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ near Bunbeg, Donegal. I always wanted to write, but never had either the time or the confidence. From the moment of arrival, friendships materialized, good intelligent conversations began and, through the workshops, people’s personalities unfolded showing their beautiful colors. Guest trainers and authors included Danny Morrison, an intriguing personality, with a colorful history; Mark Gregory, the forensic editor with his poker face; and Frank Galligan, a man of great humor, a legend really. Interesting outside activities and sightseeing created a nice change of environment to the classroom. Organisers Sean and Columbia Hillen were always there for anything you could wish for, from a positive comment to a supporting hug. I leave this retreat charged with positive energy, feeling “yes, I can do it.”

 

Nina Shapiro, Haifa, Israel

I’ve been to many writing retreats - in places as diverse as Bali, Sydney and London - and I must say this retreat in Donegal is by far the best one I’ve been to so far. The organization was superb with wonderful presenters who mentored throughout the week, as well as an excellent mix of leisure activities of ‘caint, craic agus ceoil.’ Thank you to everyone who took part. I have learned so much.

 

Genevieve  Essa, Dublin, Ireland

Broadcaster, author & raconteur Frank Galligan illustrates topics with a song he composed, with participants enthusiastically joining in on the chorus.

Musician & teacher Theresa Kavanagh hosts an intimate traditional concert and Donegal music workshop for participants.

I returned home to the U.S. last night from the Ireland Writing Retreat, a workshop of critique, discussions, reading and shared explorations of remote County Donegal in Northwest Ireland. When I visited the area four years ago I knew I’d want to return. A year ago I signed up within days of finding the workshop.   

Within a few hours of meeting each other we became a community. We laughed a lot, cried a bit, and by gosh we even sang more than once – and not just later in the pub but during the daytime 'working' sessions. The deep, informed sense of place permeated many of the best pieces we studied and we wrote. Magic happened. Words flowed more easily a couple of days in. When read aloud, prose verged on poetry. Gaelic sounded like something I knew.  Landmarks familiar to those in the area showed up in our writings as well. 

Good travel really doesn’t end when we return home. We are changed and we take with us a bit of the place. I can only hope that’s the case for me.

Pat McIlvenna, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Writers from places as diverse as Israel, the US and Ireland lullaby creative writing trainer Danny Morrison at the end of his two-day workshop.

The Ireland Writing Retreat caught my eye immediately as something unique.  I was searching for an environment in which to refocus myself into my craft, and I was listening for an intuitive signal of the kind I have come to call a "deep yes." It resonated clearly as such, and I was not to be disappointed. We were accompanied by diverse masters of the written word to foray into our own artistry. Immersed in the elements of local culture, we were also guided into language, music, and landscape. I will be leaving Donegal reawakened, but Donegal will not be leaving me.

Amber O'Hearn, originally from Nova Scotia, now living in Boulder, Colorado

Sea forager and walking guide Pol O'Muireasain talks to participants as they begin their exploration of Gola Island in search of creative inspiration.

Columbia cast far over the Internet to bring a small and lively group together for the June 2016 'Ireland Writing Retreat.' Did anyone have exactly the experience they expected? I doubt it. The group came together not homogenized  by the experience but more like a fine fish soup, with large distinct pieces each enhanced by the combined flavors of both the instructors and each other. Teać Jack, a lovely place to stay, and Donegal, were the herbs and spices. Columbia and Sean were the perfect tureen to keep us together and headed towards a great experience. Thanks!

 

Libeth Tempero, Liberty, Missouri

Participants at 'Ireland Writing Retreat' learn ceili dancing before joining local Donegal people for the traditional Irish dance evening at Teac Jack.