Sunday: I am a most fortunate writer this week because I find myself, rather unbelievably, at the inaugural University of Limerick Winter School. If you haven’t heard about this, it’s a new five-day writing retreat which aims to help writers complete their novel. The fact that it’s taking place at Hotel Doolin in the wilds of Co Clare is the icing on a pretty tasty cake.
The facilitators are mainly from UL’s creative writing department – Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Eoin Devereux, Rob Doyle, visiting Fulbright scholar Kerry Neville and one of my absolute favourite writers Donal Ryan. My Name is Leon author Kit de Waal, another favourite of mine, has flown over from the UK to be a facilitator, as have literary agent Jo Unwin and editorial director Helen Thomas.
When the winter school was advertised in the early part of the year the interest was huge, and I believe there’s already a waiting list for next year’s event. If this evening’s introduction was anything to go by, emerging writers should sell their cars, houses or pets to get to it.
Registration was late afternoon, the participants travelling from far and wide – a surprising amount from abroad – and by 5.30pm we were sitting at round tables in the beautiful Barn Hall, doing our first writing exercise. Thankfully, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald assured us beforehand that no one would be reading what we wrote, otherwise my mushy brain would have churned out the alphabet over and over. This was mercifully short and was more a way into a general discussion about writing and the things that hold us back – such as dreading people reading our alphabets.
The rest of the evening was about breaking the ice, which was well and truly broken after Jo Unwin’s lightning-fast book quiz. Who knew Holden Caulfield could cause such division?
A love story
Finally, anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that if I’m not talking about food I’m probably sleeping. Oh, the food. I’ve only had one meal but I’m already deeply in love with Hotel Doolin’s kitchen. Every morsel of my three-course dinner was just delicious. I’ll happily talk you through it, bite by bite, another time.
Please forgive any typos or higher degree of nonsense than normal, am v v tired and need to watch The Good Place before sleeping. More tomorrow…
Read Day 2 here