Hilarious jokes, live readings, drinks, food and overall communal conviviality (or ‘craic’ in Irish lingo) characterized the ‘farewell-see-you again-soon’ final evening of this summer’s enjoyable ‘Ireland Writing Retreat,’ which ended last weekend.
With participant feedback forms not only featuring many perfect 10s but also some out-of-the-box 20s, organizers woke Sunday morning to an immense sense of satisfaction that everything had gone so well.
A sample of comments from both participants and trainers included:
“This writing retreat provided much more than a safe and enjoyable place for writers to share their talents and abilities. It also offered rich, intriguing tours of a beautiful district near the sea in Donegal, plus an introduction to the Gaelic language, a history of the area, and much more. These are kind, generous people who go the extra mile for their guests. I’m beginning to feel that Donegal is my second home.”
Holly Johnson, playwright and arts writer, Portland, Oregon.
“I feel like I flew across the Atlantic to meet up with a group of old friends I’d never met. Your energy and magnetism made this happen. I am eternally grateful.”
Mai Jacobs, teacher, Beacon, New York.
“This week was rich with local stories, informative and inspiring workshops with authors, interesting visits to traditional local sites, gorgeous landscapes, sunsets, songs and music. The people of Donegal are wonderful hosts including Sean and Columbia who welcomed us and co-ordinated and tutored a fabulous programme of events. We were challenged to write every day and to discuss our writing with the other attendees. By the end of the week, we were sad to farewell the friends with whom we’d spent time and from whom we’d learned so much. Thank you, Sean and Columbia. It was all amazing.”
Bridget Davidson, teacher, Dunedin, New Zealand.
“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Ireland Writing Retreat participants for a Q & A session on my memoir ‘Watching the Daisies.’ Questions included an eclectic range of topics including my writing and self-publishing experiences and Donegal's wealth of legends on the fairy folk. My own writing muse left Teac Jack much inspired by the group's creativity.”
Author/Memoirist Brigid P. Gallagher, Sterling, Scotland.
“Ireland Writing Retreat in Donegal offers a unique combination of gentle writing exercises, assignments and professional guidance along with guided tours of some of the most stunning scenery that Ireland has to offer and an authentic insight into the Irish language, music, culture and history of the north-west corner of the country. Ideal for those who are looking to develop their writing practice, meet like-minded souls, and take inspiration from this beautiful part of the world.”
Bernie McGill, author, Derry, Northern Ireland.
“For the last few years, I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie and sense of purpose and fun at this innovative retreat in west Donegal and this year was no exception. How could it be otherwise when interested, intelligent, creative people are gathered together in such a wondrous and inspiring part of Ireland.”
Mark Gregory, forensic editor, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Following final-day workshops on forensic editing hosted by Belfast-based Mark Gregory, and point-of-view writing by Derry-born author Bernie McGill, everyone gathered together for a Saturday evening soirée at which participants told jokes, shared their travel plans, recited poetry and read from some of their prose writings.
Holly Johnson, 75, from Portland and author Sean Hillen, ‘became’ a Canada goose and a Western grebe to perform an excerpt from a delightful play written previously by Holly. Martha Gies, also from Portland, told several very funny jokes, including one about Gloria Steinem on an airplane which give new meaning to the term ‘cockpit.’ Poets Hannah Edgerly from Providence, Rhode Island, and Shelley Minden Seattle, Washington, read some of their elegant verses, a mix of humor and philosophical insight.
Bridget Davidson read short story excerpts including some she had worked on during a 12-hour layover in Auckland on her way to the Irish retreat. Mai Jacobs read from a tension-filled story she is now working on involving a teenage party and a gun.
We would like to thank Teac Jack for hosting the international writers; Captain Sabba Curran of ‘The Cricket’ ferryboat for bringing them to Gola Island; Winnie and Eddie McGee for preparing a fine lunch; officials at Glenveagh Castle for an excellent guided tour; Anna Ni Bhroin from Foras an Gaeilge for Irish language classes; and Mairead Ui Dhugain, Cathal Ó Gallchóir and members of An Chrannog community centre for preparing local foods at the century-old thatched cottage, Teac Mhuiris, near Cnoc Fola overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
The Saturday evening get-together was a great way to end a great week. Now everyone here at ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ are looking forward eagerly to enjoying just as good a time at the upcoming week in September.
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