Festival of writing on Rathlin

'Let me take you to the Island' literary festival, now in its tenth year, will be held at the end of August on Rathlin Island which has just won an award from Simon Calder in the prestigious Independent newspaper as the best island in the UK.

Described by travel writer Calder as 'a model of simplicity' Rathlin, off the north Antrim coast in Northern Ireland is the ideal place for this writer's retreat. Its beauty and tranquillity, enhanced by its vehicle-free status (no cars permitted except for those belonging to islanders) provide perfect conditions for the focus and concentration needed to be creative.

Seamlessly organised by Heather Newcombe and the Ballycastle writer's group, the festival happens over a long weekend at the end of August. It offers workshops in poetry, song, film, stage, short story and translation.

The festival location is around the small bay known as Church Bay and the islanders give over every nook and cranny to participants over the weekend. Workshops, concerts, readings, recitals and the local drama groups' annual play are held in a variety of settings including the graceful Manor House, the parochial hall, the local caf, the local pub, the beautiful St Thomas's church and in people's living rooms.

Highlights this year include a reading to launch Joan Newmann's collection Prone (Summer Palace Press) which must be one of the best new collections around. Newmann was one of the few women in the now famous 'group' at Queens University in the sixties, of which Heaney, Mahon and Longley were all part. Each year participants are treated to the Rathlin Players' production of a local 50's drama, usually a reworking of a one act play, a hoarde of which was found in boxes in the local priests house, and are an unforgettable experience of authentic community drama before the term was invented

Rathlin Island with its beauty and tranquillity offers a spectacular setting for writers seeking space, guidance or inspiration.

Other events include a CD launch by Cherith Boyle in St Thomas's church, a reading by Ted Deppe, a concert by Briege Murphy (tickets available to the public) and a fierce night of music and banter in the local pub.

Tutors this year include Teresa Godfrey, Cathal O'Searcaigh, Kate Newmann, Denise Blake, Damian Gorman and Briege Murphy. There are still some places left .The dates are Friday 31 August to Sunday 2 September. Cost is 265/E410 full fee and 185/E290 discount fee. Further information from

info@rathlinislandwriters.com. Bookings online www.rathlinislandwriters.com

With assistance from: Moyle District Council, Imeall Tra, Hilary Carmichael Solicitors, Campbell & Co Solicitors.