Known as Lugh’s Mountain, named after the ancient Celtic Sun God, the majestic, silver-coned Errigal gazes down upon the exquisite patchwork terrain of west Donegal nestling against the Atlantic Ocean, a natural beauty highlighted by Ireland's national newspaper, The Irish Times.
While the summit is a challenging, three-hour climb, easier walks around it provide panoramic views second to none, with a colorful, intriguing history matching the raw, natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Thus it was that international participants to the ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ from Australia, the US and England found themselves enthralled by the words of expert guide and seanchaí, Seamus Doohan, who effortlessly combined Celtic legend, archaeology, fauna and contemporary history as he led them on a two-hour walk.
Reflecting the writing retreat’s aim of immersing participants in local folklore and landscape thus providing inspiration to fire their creative imaginations, the hike under the shadow of Errigal, along a gently sloping valley ended in a breathtaking view of a ruined castle at the head of a tranquil lake – the perfect setting for a budding scribe to tease out a tantalizing thriller or romance.
With the ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ being the only creative writing retreat actually located on the famous ‘Wild Atlantic Way,” organizers encourage participants to use the beauty of local scenery not only as context but as an active character in their stories.
Ireland Writing Retreat is a unique example of a project that strongly supports literary tourism. By encouraging writers, both national and international, to pen work about the inspiring landscapes of northwest Donegal, the retreat helps publicize the beauty of the area, thus attracting many more visitors to vacation here.
Following the walk around Errigal and an enjoyable open-air picnic beside the ruined castle, participants were bussed back to the cozy comfort of boutique, family-run hotel, Teac Jack, the location of the retreat, where they selected elements of what they had learned that most impressed them and turned them into short stories or poems.
During interactive discussions next day, the writings were then assessed by published authors invited to the retreat for this very purpose, with everyone contributing their views on the merits of each other’s work.