GROUND-breaking author on the history of the world’s greatest love story – between Anthony and Cleopatra – as well as the writer of a Donegal-linked trilogy that is to be turned into a television series are among confirmed speakers at Ireland’s newest creative writing retreat beginning this weekend in Gaoth Dobhair.
Organisers of the ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ under the catchphrase ‘Forgotten Land, Remembered Words,’ which begins on tomorrow (Saturday), June 28, have attracted a range of leading authors – both fiction and non-fiction – for the one-week long event, which takes place at Teac Jack in Glassagh, near Bunbeg.
Rachael Kelly, a native of Belfast has become the foremost expert on the age-old romance between Roman leader, Mark Anthony, and Egyptian Queen Cleopatra (made famous on-screen by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) after completing her doctorate in film studies on it.
Rachael has also penned the first novel in a trilogy on the two historical figures entitled Queen of the Nile, set in 1st-century-BC Alexandria.
Rachael’s earlier novel, The Edge of Heaven, won the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair Competition 2014, while her short story, Blumelena, was short-listed for the Bridport Prize 2012. Her Long Anna River won the Orange Northern Woman Short Story Award and was later featured in an anthology called The Barefoot Nuns of Barcelona, while The Night Sky In November was runner-up in the White Tower Publishing Short Story Competition. Her poem, A Five Yard Odyssey, won The Battle of the Bards.
Kenneth Gregory, whose debut novel The Polaris Whisper, the first in a trilogy, was published by Blackstaff Press, will also teach at the creative writing retreat.
Negotiations are now underway for the novel to be turned into a television series with a film option. His second novel ‘hahryár’s Heir: A Prince among Thieves is the first fantasy novel in an Arabian Nights’ Series. “It is an honour to speak at such an event as the Ireland Writing Retreat,” he said. “Northwestern Donegal is an awe-inspiring place, with an intriguing, colourful history packed with legends.
“So enthralled am I by the area that the third book in my trilogy, a modern-day thriller, has the working title of Brinlack, a place beside Bloody Foreland. My best editor, my brother, Mark, lives there and I visit often.”
A third speaker at the writing retreat is published writer, Anthony Quinn, born in 1971 in Tyrone. His short stories have been short-listed twice for a Hennessy/New Irish Writing Award. He was also the runner-up in the Sunday Times New Food Writer competition. Disappeared is the title of his first novel.
Eileen Burgess, director of library services for Donegal, has been invited to open the week-long proceedings. Also expected to speak to the international participants from three continents – Australia, Europe and America – is Noeleen Ni Cholla, a senior representative of Foras na Gaeilge, and Fionbar O’Baoill, training manager with CeangalG, a three-year, EU-supported project focusing on promoting intra-cultural relations between western Scotland and Ireland.
It is also believed well-known author and medieval historian, Brian Lacey, will also speak. He is one of the foremost experts of the mystic Celtic monk, Columba, former director of the Discovery Programme, an archaeological research institution in Dublin, and has written a number of books including Medieval and Monastic Derry and ‘Lug’s forgotten Donegal Kingdom.’ Further information on the writing retreat can be accessed at www.irelandwritingretreat.com