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Internationally accomplished Irish author tutors at this summer's retreat


As the time draws ever closer for the start of Ireland Writing Retreat’s summer week in scenic west Donegal, preparations are underway for fascinating author trainers and intriguing excursions, both by land and by sea.

Highlight of the former, retreat organisers are delighted to announce, is Bernie McGill, author of Sleepwalkers, a collection of stories short-listed in 2014 for the Edge Hill short story prize, and of The Butterfly Cabinet (named in 2012 by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes as his novel of the year).


Her latest novel, The Watch House, is set on Rathlin Island on the northern Irish coast in 1898, at the time of the Marconi wireless experiments.

Bernie’s writings have been published in the UK, the US and in translation in Italy and the Netherlands. Her work has been well placed in the Seán Ó Faoláin, the Bridport, and the Michael McLaverty short story prizes and she won the Zoetrope: All-Story award in the US in 2008.

Living with her family on the north coast of Ireland, the author said she is looking forward very much to returning to Donegal and work with participants on the Wild Atlantic Way writing workshops.

Born in Lavey, County Derry in Northern Ireland, Bernie studied English and Italian at Queen’s University, Belfast and graduated with a Masters degree in Irish Writing. She is a recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s inaugural ACES (Artists’ Career Enhancement Scheme) Award in association with the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University.

Bernie’s short fiction has appeared in acclaimed anthologies The Long Gaze Back, The Glass Shore and Female Lines, all by New Island Books, and for the theatre she has written The Haunting of Helena Blunden and The Weather Watchers.

A Creative Writing Facilitator, a Writer in Schools with Poetry Ireland, and a Professional Mentor with the Irish Writers’ Centre, Bernie takes up a Fellowship with the Royal Literary Fund at Queen’s University this September.

Bernie will be joined at the retreat as a trainer by Sean Hillen, long-time international journalist, publisher and author of contemporary novel, ‘Pretty Ugly.’


As for activities and excursions complementing the various writing workshops, delightful surprises await participants, starting with the opening evening’s ‘Magical Mystery Welcome’ (lips are sealed), not to mention guided visits to a castle, a century-old thatched cottage and even an island for a walkabout and special homemade lunch.

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This Artist's Retreat is available for rent this summer, in the same village where Black Sea Writing Retreat took place


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