Workshop Retreat Schedule for 2016

Competition for a Free Place in Leanne's workshop retreat in August 2016 - Deadline for submission: 30th April 2016 (Midnight GMT)

Our thanks once again to all who submitted poetry to the competition for a place in Leanne O'Sullivan's workshop retreat, "Lining Our Thoughts." According to all the judges, the standard was extremely high therefore the final choice difficult.

The winning poet this year is Lisa de Jong (Dublin, Ireland) for her poem, "Lighthouse," about which Leanne says:

"I very much admire the atmosphere this poem creates through its technical achievement, it's use of rhyme and repetition and a wonderful rhythmic sway the writer brings to every line. But what impressed me very much is how the writer is able to marry that musicality with maturity and wisdom. She brings together past and present, myth and experience in a way that is immediate and intimate and incredibly moving. I look forward to meeting this writer in our workshop!"

Lighthouse by Lisa de Jong (Dublin, Ireland)
(Inspired by the Celtic myth of the Tower of Hercules Lighthouse, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain)
Men who build lighthouses know a lot about darkness.
Men who build lighthouses know the depths of the sea.
I once knew a man who built lighthouses and love
on rocks and waves around the coast of my country.
He knew the dark and the light and the strength of the sea.

I’ve been swimming through the dirt of the dark swampy waters
Immersed one day by the hand of Hercules.
From the Irish coast to north western Spain
He made me battle the whirlpools of the Celtic Sea.
I learned about the light and the dark and the holding of rocks
And about love and land and how to set myself free.

I now see a lighthouse and I’m close to the surface
Above murky greens and browns – once a home for me
And I’m swimming and swimming – up and up
For I know it is good and I know it is strong.
But the closer I get, the less I can see
Blinded by light that finds darkness within me.

Men who build lighthouses learn the meaning of darkness.
Men who build lighthouses read the waves of the sea.
Their work becomes a stillness in the midst of the ocean
Sacrificing safety for solitude at sea.
In the dark they build a light to guide boats home,
But each man needs a light to survive at sea.

Short List for the Competition

New to the Schedule:  Memory and Creativity in September

Individual retreat residencies as well as places in the following workshop retreats are available throughout 2016. If you would want to make certain you get the dates, the room and/or the workshop you are most interested in, think about booking early. You might also want to book a creative retreat for a loved one as a holiday gift.

For more information and to book an individual or workshop retreat as a gift for someone else or for yourself, contact Sue at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A Poetry Weekend

A Poetry Weekend

Leanne osullivan

Retreat Leader: Leanne O'Sullivan (more information)
Arrival: Dinner, Friday, 29 January 2016
Departure: Afternoon, Sunday, 31 January 2016

From Leanne:  "Please join us for this St. Brigid's Day weekend workshop at Anam Cara during which we will invoke the creative and healing powers of this ancient deity.  Saint or Goddess, Brigid has always been associated with healing, poetry, fertility, fire and nurture, and during this weekend we will be working towards clearing any barriers that are keeping you from writing the poetry you want to write. We will also be visiting some of the more ancient sites on the peninsula such as the Cailleach (The Hag of Beara), and using these as starting points for our work.

Whether you are lost, searching or just in need of nurture, this workshop will provide a safe space where you can take risks, steeped in the wisdom of poetry and traditional story, and renew a curiosity for your own work that will keep you writing with energy and confidence."

The weekend starts with dinner on Friday night, 29 January and runs through the afternoon on Sunday, 31 January 2016. The workshop retreat fee includes two nights accommodations, six meals, the workshop tuition, and use of the retreat and its amenities.  

Singing Over the Bones

Singing Over the Bones

Sharon-BlackieRetreat Leader:  Sharon Blackie (more information)
Arrival:  Sunday, 6th March 2016
Departure:  Friday 11th March 2016
To Book: Contact Sharon directly on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Returning after an incredible  'Singing Over the Bones' creative retreat for women writers and artists at Anam Cara last October, Sharon is once again bringing her unique workshop retreat to the beautiful wild Beara Peninsula, the home of the Cailleach Bheara, and a place steeped in myth and story. 

From Sharon: "During 'Singing Over the Bones' retreats, we explore the ways in which we can bring into our writing and other creative work that uniquely female sense of wildness that so often remains unawakened or suppressed. We do this primarily by working with wild myth and archetype and by mapping and storying our connections with the natural world. The approach is grounded and embodied; it is rooted in sensory experience, as well as in the poetics, dreamings and storying of the land and its inhabitants. It is about re-enchantment, for sure -- but it is also about  quickening.

"We aim to create a warm, supportive but creatively challenging and transformative atmosphere in which we spend time indoors and outdoors, exploring a unique combination of practices -- writing, storytelling, creative imagination as well as crafting and artwork techniques -- to deepen our connectedness, catalyse our own personal metamorphoses, and enrich our creative practice.  There is free time for private creative work, walking, and relaxation, and the evenings after dinner are devoted to conversation, readings and to myth- and storytelling by the fire."

What do I Mean by Creativity?

"What do I Mean by Creativity?": A Proprioceptive Writing Retreat

Ginny Keegan

Retreat Leader: Ginny Keegan, Proprioceptive Writing Teacher, Artist, Writer and Long-time Student of Buddhist Meditation
Arrival: 16th April 2016
Departure: 23rd April 2016

Because of the success of this workshop retreat in 2015, Anam Cara is once again sponsoring a week exploring this unique approach to writing.

"How does Proprioceptive Writing (PW) promote creativity? People have blocks to creativity for all kinds of reasons. These may reside in our memories, in our emotions, and in our attitudes, values, and belief systems. By bringing these into the open through attention to our ideas and feelings, the PW method begins to break up these blocks. Through PW, people increase their creativity and feel their minds expand, one of life's greatest pleasures.

"Without the practice of PW, I would not be an artist today. Convinced (since that day in First Grade when everyone laughed at my picture) that I had no ability, I closed my paint box for 50 years. In 2000, while on a PW retreat at Anam Cara, I was invited into a watercolour workshop that was in process. Daunted by my encrusted view of 'no talent in this lifetime,' I moved from my PW writing paper and pen to watercolour and brush and began to paint.  A magical new world became possible."

Today, Ginny is a founding member of Artisans Collective-Yarmouth, Maine, USA. (

Creating Works That Rivet Your Readers

Creating Works That Rivet Your Readers

david hazard

Retreat Leader: David Hazard (more information)
Arrival: Saturday, 30 April 2016
Departure: Saturday, 7 May 2016

"The week will help you find or further explore your voice as a writer. Voice is the edge every acquisition editor and contest judge looks for, beneath the writer's technical skill.  Your voice - your fire, if you will -- is what gives your writing, from first to last, its true and lasting brilliance.

"Great writers... successful writers... learn how to speak with what I call, "the voice of the soul, and the voice of the body." Power is released into your writing when you open these energies. Whether creating a novel, a memoir, or essays, fresh, riveting voice is essential."

Painting the Wild Coast of Ireland Workshop Retreat

Painting the Wild Coast of Ireland: A Watercolour Painter's Idea of Heaven

evelyn dunphyRetreat Leader:  Evelyn Dunphy (more information)
Arrival: 28th May 2016
Departure: 4th June 2016
To Book: Contact Evelyn directly on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This year will be the fifth group that Evelyn has brought to Anam Cara for a delightful week of painting with her excellent instruction in situ.

From Evelyn:
"This workshop is designed to enable you to approach plein air painting with confidence. From making a good composition to choosing values and colors, you will be rewarded with a painting that is evocative, tells the story, and is a beautiful memory of Ireland. The glorious light of the Beara Peninsula is an artist’s paradise. If it happens to rain, we work in the conservatory at Anam Cara. This gives us a chance to expand on the field work, which is so valuable.

The small workshop size means I can spend as much time with you as you would like. I do demonstrations all day long! Your success is my goal”.
Here is a message from an artist who came to my last workshop:

I must tell you how valuable this workshop has been to me. I now understand the qualities of pigments, values and temperature and what their variations can bring to a painting. I also had a gestalt with regard to osmosis and the use of watercolor. I also want you to know that I appreciate the passion that you bring to your work and to your teaching. It is really a joy to be one of your students, Thanks, Ruth.

Read more: Painting the Wild Coast of Ireland Workshop Retreat

Memory, Secrets and Immortality

Memory, Secrets and Immortality: A Crucible for Creativity - A Women's Writing and Visual Arts Retreat


Retreat Leader: IONE (
Arrival: 23rd July 2016
Departure: 29th July 2016
To Book: Contact IONE directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Women may work on new or pre-existing projects. Meditation, guided meditation, discussion and copious free creative time and sharing of work as desired are a part of this gentle and restorative retreat.

IONE is an author/playwright/director and an improvising word/sound artist. Her works include the critically acclaimed memoir, Pride of Family; Four Generations of American Women of Color, Nile Night, Remembered Texts from The Deep, Listening in Dreams & This is a Dream!   Her anthology, Spell Breaking; Remembered Ways of Being also features up to 18 participants in a vibrant Traveling Show. A second volume of Spell Breaking is currently in progress.

A specialist in dreams and the creative process, Ione conducts retreats throughout the world. She is Deep Listening Certification Instructor with The Center for Deep Listening at RPI, Troy,NY and Director of the Ministry of Maåt, Inc. Both organizations act to foster harmonious world community. 

Lining Our Thoughts: A Poetry Writing Workshop

Lining Our Thoughts - A Poetry Writing Workshop Retreat

Leanne osullivanRetreat Leader:  Leanne O’Sullivan (more information)
Arrival: Saturday, 30th July 2016
Departure: Saturday 6th August 2016

"This workshop is for those who would like to begin to write poetry or those who would like to develop poems they have already started.  The main aim of my workshops is to encourage writers through discussion, exercise based and free writing, while also allowing them to take risks in a supportive environment. Each session will focus on a different topic, such as imagery, perspective, storytelling, rhythm and form. Everything a writer needs is inside of themselves, and it's my goal to help them refine the effectiveness of how they communicate their subject matter.

"Morning sessions will include a reading of poems by established writers (which will be supplied) with discussion of what makes these poems effective, writing exercises and also excursions to some sites in Beara that have given inspiration to my own writing.  In the afternoons, I will be available for one-to-one sessions and this will also be free time during which participants can enjoy the creative peace of the retreat and do some writing."

Competition for a Free Place in Leanne's workshop retreat:
Since our workshop will take place on the magical, mythical Beara Peninsula, it is very fitting that our poetry -- which is, after all, a concentrated imaginative and intellectual response to our experiences and contexts -- will seek to possess something of the essence of this very special part of the world.

As an entrant to this competition, you must write a poem (max. 40 lines) based on or inspired by a mythological narrative. Your narrative may be updated into a modern context if you wish, though the bones of mythology should reside. [Please submit your entry (as an attached word.doc without personal information on the poem) to Sue at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

Deadline for submission: 30th April 2016 (Midnight GMT)

Leanne’s Bio:
Leanne O'Sullivan comes from the Beara Peninsula in West Cork and is the author of three poetry collections, published by Bloodaxe Books -- Waiting for My Clothes (2004), Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009) and The Mining Road (2013).  She has been the recipient of several awards, most recently the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award (2009, nominated by Michael Longley), The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature (2010), The Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry (2011), and the UCC Alumni Achievement Award (2012).

Memory and Creativity

“Memory and Creativity”

marion reynolds

Retreat Leader: Marion Reynolds (more info)
Arrival: Saturday, 3rd September 2016
Departure: Saturday, 10th September 2016

This workshop retreat will explore the relationship between memory and creativity. To the ancient Greeks, memory was a goddess, Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses.
Hamlet calls his memory, “The book and volume of my brain.”

Memory looks back at what has been. Creativity looks forward and creates what will be. Participants in the workshop will be encouraged to tap into their well of memory and use it to fuel and enhance their writing.

The workshop will include keeping a daily journal, daily writing exercises and one-to-one mentoring. It will encourage the participants to make full use of the beautiful surroundings of Anam Cara to free their creative spirit. It will also include daily readings demonstrating the use of memory to enhance creativity from writers such as Colm McCann and  James Joyce.


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