Some Thoughts on a Week’s Retreat in the beautiful surrounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan June 2023


My drive to Annaghmakerrig on the Monday was filled with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension. I had never given myself permission to immerse myself in a weeklong indulgence in the creative practice. At least – not til now. My submission for acceptance of this opportunity was greeted with a positive ‘green light’ from Tyrone Guthrie Centre Director, Dr. Éimear O’Connor. That itself was a declaration of permission and affirmation. Hence my excitement.


But my apprehension was the result of a self-generated fear. Would I last a week in my own company? Would I manage to ‘write’ for an extended period? Would the required communal dining experience (as stipulated in Tyrone Guthrie’s will) be fraught with anticipation of forced conversation? Would I make it to Sunday?


On arrival at the centre, much of my apprehension dissipated – and all of it in due course. The welcome I received from staff and current residents alike, and the realisation that this was a special place, a place where all respected the creative, made me realise that the week ahead was going to be productive, instructive, and informative. Walks through the property, down by the lake, through the woods provided balm for the creative spirit. The allocation of the ‘Composer’s Room’ (an elevated title, I felt since I was more a songwriter rather than a composer) provided inspiration and affirmation. A Yamaha Grand Piano. A dedicated space – one that I occupied for hours at a time in ‘full flight’, recording, noting, and notating musical motifs and song segments. I couldn’t stop. And if I did, I simply walked outside and wallowed in the aesthetic beauty, listening back to my recorded notes.


As for the shared meals? I didn’t miss one! Not one breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And neither did the 8 other residents. A collection of visual artists, writers, poets, actors, and playwrights. Our conversations ranged from shared insights into our creative processes to funny and giddy tales of life experiences. Enough to ‘fill the tank’ for further explorations back in the Composer’s Room. Bliss. Sinful bliss.


And did I last the week? I left, reluctantly on the Sunday, vowing to return at the earliest opportunity.



Of the many songs that came my way during the week, (including a collaboration with poet/writer Richard Dove from Australia – more on that later), the attached is my paean to the location, ambiance and inspiration of the centre and the vision and generosity of Tyrone Guthrie himself.

This is ‘Annaghmakerrig’, an intimate recording at the Yamaha Grand piano in my Composer’s Room. Thank you, Tyrone!