The Half Door Writers' Retreat
An individual writers’ retreat space, offering you a place to breathe while you write, and a place to write while you breathe
A little bit about the space
The Half Door Writers’ Retreat offers you a tranquil space to work on any writing project. Whether you need a few days or a few weeks, you are welcome to come on a private retreat in a traditional stone cottage, overlooking Lough Derg in Co Tipperary.
Your retreat space includes a beautiful sitting room with an antique writer’s desk and log burning stove set into an inglenook fireplace. You will also have a cosy bedroom with a double bed and attractive wooden-clad ceiling, a small kitchenette and your own bathroom with a great power shower.
Living in the cottage might be all you require from your retreat. However, you can also avail of my teaching and mentoring services, if you wish. Whether you are a novice writer or simply need some advice on your project, please don’t hesitate to ask for some help. Please go to the build your own retreat page, and take a look at what is on offer.
A little bit about the area
The Half Door Writers’ Retreat is overlooking Ireland’s beautiful Lough Derg in Co. Tipperary. The area is stunning, with the hills of Co Clare and Co Tipperary all around. The lake is one of the largest on the Shannon and with its many changing moods and colours, it reflects the magnificence of this, Ireland’s most hidden gem.
There are many walking routes here, from the Lough Derg Way, gentle strolls in Castlelough Woods or a step down the old postmans’ walk to the famous harbour, Garrykennedy with its pubs, good food, cafe and horse-box coffee shop. You can also walk up into the hills of the Millenium Cross to see the famous Graves of the Leinster Men or walk further into the hills of Tountina or on into the Silvermines.
We are situated halfway between the market town of Nenagh with its old castle and busy arts centre, and the idyllic twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina with their farmers market each Sunday, the Killaloe Cathedral and busy nightlife.
We are 3 kilometres from the nearest shop and about the same distance from the pubs in Portroe and Garrykennedy, so it’s handier to have a car, if you come on retreat. I do go to the village most days and can give you a lift if needs be, but there is so much to see here, a car is definitely recommended.
I have identified as a writer from the moment I self-published a single, rather scruffy edition, of my first storybook at the age of six. The four-page crayoned-coloured book was about Don the Donkey, who munched on his hay and talked to his friend, Snowy, the white rabbit. It was not a long story! Sadly the sellotape-bound epic, inscribed on blue scrapbook paper, has been lost to the annals of time and too many house moves.
Don the Donkey lit the fire of storytelling in me which has never quenched. Life took hold and propelled me down a very different path than that of a novelist or a poet. Half a century passed me by as I followed a career in publishing and radio in the UK, moved across the Irish Sea in my twenties to take root in Ireland, raised my children in Co Cork, ran an equine livery yard, made fudge for the local sweet shops and cared for my ageing mother. I scribbled away when I could and wrote short articles for a local village magazine but this did not bring in the pennies or the cents to raise my family. Over the years I trained in the ways of alternative healing and finally, after my last child spread his wings, I moved back to my real roots in Castlelough, to my mothers’ old holiday home, and spent a few years running a healing retreat centre, overlooking Lough Derg.
I always wrote when I could, which was not very often. I had a short story published in an anthology with the Limerick Writers’ Centre some years ago and attended writers’ weekends, seminars and workshops when time permitted. However, I never gave myself permission to take my writing seriously and felt, in a way, that I had left it too late in life. I was getting too old.
Out of the blue, I received an email from the Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival, asking if I would like to attend a series of workshops. We were offered three weekends of classes and a chance to perform our work during the festival.
During the festival, I had a constant ache in my stomach. It was an ache of longing. I sat in audiences in the Nenagh Arts Centre, in Nenagh Castle and in the Dromineer Yacht Club during that weekend, listening to writers both established and emerging and became inspired by all of them. The inspiration was urgent, almost frenetic. I was filled with the desire to be that published author, that poet or that writer, showcasing my first novel, my first anthology of short stories, or my first collection of poetry. I no longer wanted to be part of the audience. I wanted to be on the stage. I have never felt such a passion. It was overwhelming.
We are often inspired by certain things in life and yet it is only too easy to return to one’s ordinary life moments afterwards. To walk away from the dreams of enthusiasm and desire. To put them on hold for another day. For another life. But I did not walk away. I applied to the University of Limerick for the MA in Creative Writing and I was accepted. I finished the degree this summer, having had an extraordinary year. I am beginning to feel that I am not so old after all. None of us should ever feel that we are too old to live our dreams.
Over the past while, my bio as a writer has gone from zero to something I am proud of.
I graduated from the M.A. for Creative Writing at the University of Limerick with (I am proud to say..) First-Class Honours in 2021. I was shortlisted by New Irish Writing and longlisted for the 2021 Fish Short Story Award. I have short stories published in The Galway Review, The Blue Nib and The Tiny Seed Journal. My flash fiction piece, Rag Doll was shortlisted for the Kanturk International Arts Festival and I have short stories and poems in the anthologies Vessel of Voices, Opening Doors and UL’s Ogham Stone 2021.
During my MA I took the elective Creative Writers in the Community and spent the Spring semester teaching Creative Writing. Having taught mindfulness and meditation through my healing retreats for many years previous to this, this rekindled my love for teaching. I am, therefore, offering my experience to those who come on retreat at the cottage.
I live overlooking Lough Derg, in Co Tipperary and am currently working on my first novel which spans the lives of three generations of women from 1896 to the present day. Moving through England, Ireland and Scotland, these women are shaped by the conventions and restrictions of their time. The story is based on my grandmother, my mother and myself. Similar themes weave throughout their lives and include lost children, the power and abuse from the Catholic Church, clairvoyance, women finding their voices, love, motherhood and isolation. I also write short stories and flash fiction.
I often wonder where Don the Donkey is now, but I hope he is looking down on me, chomping on his hay, and smiling