Writers from various parts of the United States including Pennsylvania, Texas and Idaho as well as others from cities such as Dublin and Cork enjoyed our first-ever travel writing retreat which ended this past weekend.
Workshops last week focusing on skills necessary for writing captivating travel articles for magazines, newspapers and blogs combined with interesting excursions to some of Donegal’s iconic landmarks including Glenveagh National Park and Castle, local food tastings at quaint Teac Mhuiris, a 100-year-old thatched cottage overlooking the Atlantic, live traditional music and dance performances, all helped create a supportive community spirit among the writers.
Comments from participants reflected the essence of the retreat.
“My experience at Ireland Writing Retreat was life-altering, both for my creative writing career and in other significant ways,” said Chelsea Goodrich from Idaho. “The location in Donegal is spiritual and magical and created an enriching environment for both the intellect and the soul. The writing assignments were rigorous and challenged me in a way that was extremely educational, and helped build my confidence.”
Mary Hopkins, a leading advertising executive who established her own company in Cork, also left contented, this being her second time to join the Ireland Writing Retreat, “Having my work critiqued honestly by experienced author and travel writer Sean Hillen was refreshing. I’ve learned a lot this week and enjoyed the experience with my fellow scribes and world travellers. As for Donegal… love it, just love it!’
Among special speakers during the week were Maire Aine Gardiner, senior executive with Failte Ireland, Ireland’s national tourism agency, who hosted a dynamic multimedia presentation and Q&A session on the success of Ireland’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way.’
Author James Barr led an interesting seminar on literary and historical tourism, speaking about his research linking the sinking of the Spanish Armada and Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing of his classic novel ‘Treasure Island’ to Donegal’s Gola Island (formerly known as ‘Gold Island’).
Sean Hillen, journalist, editor and author, shared some of his experiences as a travel writer for almost ten years for publications such as The Irish Times, JustLuxe.com and Fodor’s Travel Guide. Sean also has his own travel blog, worlditineraries.co
Reflecting its wide international reach, Ireland Writing Retreat was named among the top ten creative artistic retreats in Europe by respected national, London-based newspaper, ‘The Guardian.’ It was the only one based in Ireland to make the prestigious list.