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Discovery Retreat In The Land of Celtic Legends

We invite you to embark on a voyage of discovery with us in one of Ireland’s most ancient and sacred places.

Over the last decade (yes, we’re delighted to celebrate our tenth birthday this year) many people at our retreats say they’ve enjoyed both our writing workshops and also the cultural experiences we organise. Some even say our retreats have created once-in-a-lifetime memories that are immensely therapeutic.

So, as part of our special Spring retreat May 20-26, we’ve decided to blend special ‘discovery’ activities in Donegal with hands-on travel writing workshops.

If you come to this innovative retreat (there are still several places left so sign up quickly to avoid disappointment) you will enjoy what no others on our retreats before have ever experienced - a week of travel writing interspersed with ‘discovery’ activities such as:

  • creativity sessions hosted by a qualified hypnotherapist;

  • music provided exclusively by local performers to illustrate artistic heritage; 

  • multi-sensory experiences hosted by a herbalist to enhance sensitivity to both our inner and outer worlds;

  • specialised photography workshop on using mobile phone features to capture key images to complement travel stories;

  • food and drinks tastings to improve food writing and restaurant review skills;

  • cultural and historic excursions including separate visits to an intriguing island with an unsolved mystery, a ghostly medieval castle and a century-old thatched cottage;

  • introduction to Celtic mysticism hosted by an Irish seanchaí (traditional Gaelic storyteller). 

Why introduce such activities at a travel writing retreat?

It may not be linked to Excalibur, but this stone tells an ancient tale.

Because travel writing is about discovery, and not just about what you see. That’s too easy. That’s lazy writing. Brilliant travel writing emerges out of experiencing moments with all your senses. That means drawing on your deepest emotions to create vivid stories that readers remember. Stories that stand-out high above the humdrum average. Stories that travel editors of glossy print magazines and journals want. And pay for. Stories that land you complimentary trips by tourist organisations to exotic destinations around the globe.

Our ‘discovery’ activities will help you paint the authentic flavour of a place, the sounds, the smells, the colors, not just a rundown list of each and every attraction that you see in guide books. Such small details are much more powerful in conveying an atmosphere than sweeping general statements.

We will help you imagine your reader as your travelling companions, people whom you will captivate by sharing your true self. In other words, your writing will reflect your essence. Through such activities and our dedicated writing workshops, you will learn to access your personal feelings, insights and reactions on your journey and distil them into your articles thus helping your readers understand why you love to travel whether that be for escape, a search for something special, or simple therapy.

And we believe there’s no better place for such a ‘discovery retreat’ than one of the most ancient, sacred, energy-giving places in all of Ireland, a place far from the noisy traffic jams, pollution, ticket lines and tourist busses of Dublin, Kerry and Galway, a place of tranquility on the gorgeous ‘Wild Atlantic Way,’ a place that Time forgot where writers and musicians abound. 

It’s not just us saying Donegal is a fascinating ‘Land of Legends’ nestled in the rural beauty of northwest Ireland. Many well-respected international travel publications agree.

In its recently-published ‘Best In Travel’ 2024 book, ‘Lonely Planet’ said:

Donegal is the wild child of Ireland with a big heart, home to some of its most ravishingly sublime scenery, with the longest coastline in Ireland and more than one hundred beaches, a land of unspoilt splendour, stark peaks and port-side restaurants serving majestic food, the highest sea cliffs in Europe and miles of unspoilt coastal hiking trails along the Wild Atlantic Way, a place of ancient forts, musical traditions and a rich cultural heritage.’

The global ‘Rough Guides’ publication said, ‘Donegal has unquestionably the richest scenery in the whole of Ireland, featuring a spectacular three-hundred-kilometre coastline – an intoxicating run of headlands, promontories and peninsulas and inland terrain of glens, rivers and bogland hills.’ 

As such, there’s probably no more inspiring place to awaken your creativity and learn how to capture the soul of a place, and your own, than this unforgettable journey through the world of international travel writing and self-discovery.

Our retreat is an immersive experience that will leave you inspired, connected, and with a deeper understanding of the travel-writing craft. Limited to ten people for personal bespoke tuition, the rhythm of each day on this retreat is carefully planned to nurture a sense of well-being while allowing you to gain greater insight into your own self and the destination itself. We select special places to inspire you and provide rich opportunities out of which fascinating and unexpected stories evolve. 

Sean and Columbia. 'Travel writing can be so much fun. Guess where this assignment brought us.'

Our retreat will be led by Sean Hillen, long-time travel writer and former foreign correspondent for The Times newspaper, London and Time Magazine, New York. Sean also worked at the United Nations Media Center and was chairperson of a national US Fulbright Commission. He has worked on projects with many international organisations including UNICEF, the Rockefeller Foundation, the British Council, the Soros Foundation for an Open Society and USAID. Sean is author of several books in various genres including novel, memoir and novella. Sean’s travel articles can be read at and on his own luxury travel blog 

Columbia Hillen, award-winning photographer and a herbalist, member of the Irish Register of Herbalists will lead the workshops on these two subjects. A native of Transylvania, Columbia was former managing director for ten years of a national publishing and events company with an annual turnover of more than one million euro.     

Grounded in the lessons they have learned through their successful media careers, Sean and Columbia will empower you with new skills covering everything from the basics of travel writing and how to conquer writers' block, to the tips, tools and tricks that help you to thrive as a travel correspondent and blogger.

The White Witch of Donegal believes faeries live under this sacred Donegal mountain, Errigal.

Each of our retreats is a celebration of words and ideas, places and people, an invitation to connect with like-minded souls who take delight in capturing the nuances of the world around them. We are all on the road to being the writer we want to be, but we must continually nurture our ‘self’ to achieve our goals. That’s why we’re here, to help you unlock that magical voice that is yours alone.

We invite you to settle into the rhythm of traditional rural life on the rugged west coast of Ireland where you'll be inspired to witness life unfolding as it has for generations. This retreat will be packed with special moments that will provoke a wealth of story ideas and our daily workshops will arm you with the confidence and ability to put those stories into writing. You'll also enjoy your own ensuite room in a cosy, family-owned boutique hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with full breakfast included where workshops will also be held.

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