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Laughter and tears characterize latest writing retreat

Another week of laughter and tears and fine prose and poetry at ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ has come to an end as novice & experienced scriveners from many different countries celebrated the power of the written word.

Participants from every walk of life, from social work to herbal medicine, from IT to teaching, and countries as diverse as Italy, Canada, the US, England and Ireland, north and south, connected instantly at the opening ‘Magical Mystery’ soiree

Highlights of the week were so manifold, it’s impossible to choose just one.


Dynamic surprise concert at Teac Jack by well-known Irish group ‘Goats Don’t Shave’ with singer-songwriter-lyricist Pat Gallagher in brilliant vocal form.

Delicious ‘Irish High Tea’ at the 100-year-old thatched cottage, Teach Mhuiris overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, courtesy of staff & volunteers at An Crannog, community center in the town of Bunbeg, especially Mairead Ui Dhugain.

The more-than-satisfying repast included homemade breads & scones with natural cream & assorted jams & scrumptious desserts made from seaweed, plus a wee dram of poitin, all well received by guests.

Traditional Irish dance lessons, sean nos singing (ancient Celtic art form) & tunes on whistle & fiddle from the ever-talented, award-winning local performer, Noeleen Ní Cholla.

Lively musical evening at Leo’s Tavern (home base of ethereal singer, Enya, and her sister, Moya) celebrating the release of a long-awaited debut solo CD by Manus Lunny, musician extraordinaire, about the beauties of the local national park, entitled The Glenveagh Suite. Manus is also responsible for producing the excellent CDs of local artists including singer-songwriter-guitarist, Ian Smith & composers-fiddle players, Theresa Kavanagh & Stephen Campbell, Martin and Mary Crossan, Jackie Sharkey, and a host of others.

Beautiful harp-playing by life-long harpist & piano player & aptly-named, Chere’ Harper, wife of pathologist, author & writing trainer, Bradley Harper.

Delicate and utterly delicious handmade chocolates by Maire Bonner, owner of ‘Donegal Chocolates,’ with such creative favours as seaweed, chili and seasalt;

Guided tour past the mystical pyramidal-shaped Errigal Mountain (Mount of Lugh), Poisoned Glen where Balor of the Evil Eye was slain by his grandson, Lugh, and of Glenveagh Castle & its landscaped gardens.

Ferry-boat ride to Gola Island, inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’ on The Cricket, with Captain Sabba at the wheel, and specially-prepared island lunch including fresh seafood chowder and delicious desserts by native, Winnie and Eddie McGee.

Not to mention, the fine teaching of Williamsburg, Virginia-based former US Army Colonel-cum-forensic pathologist Dr. Brad Harper, author of Holmes-like mystery, ‘A Knife In The Fog’ and Sean Hillen, international travel writer and author of contemporary novel, ‘Pretty Ugly,’ linking Ireland (Donegal and Belfast) with the US (Boston, New York, Washington DC and Kansas City) focusing on corruption in the cosmetics industry. Fascinating interviews with local authors Brigid P. Gallagher and James Barr.

It’s no wonder, after all these treats, all of us at ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ are looking forward to the next events in Donegal, Paris and at the Black Sea.

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