With our next creative writing retreat less than three weeks away, excitement is mounting and preparations well underway in Donegal for both our practical, hands-on daily workshops and some tantalising cultural and historical excursions throughout northwestern Ireland.
Adding to the wonderful news that our retreat is fully booked out, with participants from different countries - the second time this has happened in the last four months - is the fact that there will be not one but two well-qualified tutors to help participants improve their writing skills during the week.
Sean Hillen, former foreign correspondent for The Times, London and The Irish Times in Dublin, and international publisher and author - whose latest work, a novella entitled ‘Driver’s Diary - Death At The Mouth of Flowers,’ a psychological thriller released on the 100th anniversary several weeks ago of the assassination in mysterious circumstances of one of Ireland’s leading revolutionaries - will be hosting workshops.
Alongside him will be a new member to our team of excellent tutors whose expertise ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ has harnessed over the years - Kathleen Shine Cain, Ph.D., Professor Emerita at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.
With 45 years in higher education, Kathleen’s summed up her view of both teaching and practising creative writing with the succinct phrase: “It’s not what I do; it’s what I am,” adding, ‘Being a writer and teaching writing has been far more than a career for me. From when I first held a pencil in my fist at the age of five and wrote ‘I want to be a nurse,’ I knew writing would be an integral part of my life—especially sharing writing with friends, colleagues, and students. No, I didn’t become a nurse. Fulfilling as it may have been, that would have been a career. Instead I have—and will always have—a vocation.’’
‘Teacher, Writer, Editor’ - during a colorful, event-filled life, Kathy has been a professor, writing center director, dramaturg, and, surprisingly, even a witch (in Macbeth), a fortune teller (in My Fair Lady), and a nightclub/brothel madam (in Cabaret).
After a year teaching in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Kathy added tour guide to her resume, later conducting an annual study abroad course on what was colloquially called the ‘Troubles.’
Best described as a dervish of vitality and vigour, Kathy is also the author of several academic books and articles, including Leon Uris: A Critical Companion, Living in the USA: Cultural Contexts for Reading and Writing, and From Comfort Zone to Contact Zone: Lessons from a Belfast Writing Centre.
Since retiring, Kathy has focused more on creative non-fiction, particularly on memoir and profiles and has developed captivating workshops on memoir writing for senior citizens and military veterans.
Over the decades Kathy has received a number of awards, none of which she says can compare with a 1993 accolade offered by her then twelve-year-old daughter: “Of all the mothers, you’re the least embarrassing.”