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Best-selling author Emma Heatherington joins forces with partner to bring paint and prose to the public

As an international best-selling author of thirteen novels, creative writing coach and poet, some might say that – career-wise – Donaghmore‘s Emma Heatherington has done it all.

But when you have a creative mind like Emma’s the world often appears as an endless sea of opportunity, and what’s more, that world-view is even further amplified when you combine one creative mind with another!

Tyrone I recently spoke with Emma about her latest exciting endeavor, made all the more special as she joins forces – to bring poetry and paint to the public – with her partner, artist and Cookstown native, Jim McKee.

In a first for the couple, Emma and Jim have worked for the last year, in conjunction with Mid Ulster District Council, to develop a tourist attraction package with a twist.

Rosehill House, Stewartstown, Co. Tyrone.

Naturally, with their individual skillsets and vast coaching experience the duo didn’t have to brainstorm for too long. The idea for a weekend of creative writing and oil painting was put in place with just the minor issue remaining of finding a venue.

Emma said: “We had the idea for the weekend but no location. Eventually Rosehill House in Stewartstown was suggested and it was perfect. It has everything under one roof, it sleeps up to 14 people, plenty of space for cooking and room for two workshops, chill out areas and stunning accommodation. It has all the charm of an 1840’s style cottage with a thatched roof, open fires and terracotta tiles”.

Whilst their plans for the retreat were set in motion about a year ago, Emma explains that the seeds were actually planted eight years ago in 2015.

She said: “The idea actually came about in 2015. Jim was commissioned by the Institute of Technology in Tralee to complete a painting to be presented to President Michael D. Higgins alongside a poem written for the occasion. Something happened and the poet they had commissioned fell through and they approached Jim to ask if he knew of anyone who could complete a poem in a short space of time”.

Needless to say, Jim recommended Emma and together they created a set to be presented to the President, ‘Sailing in Diversity’; painting and poem.

Author Emma Heathering, far right, presenting ‘Sailing in Diversity’ poem and painting by partner Jim McKee, middle, to President Michael D. Higgins in 2015.

This collaboration fueled the fire for future opportunities and the two have very much been looking forward to joining forces again for the retreat this May.

Participants will enjoy lunch, buffet and evening meals, traditional Irish music and 2 x two hour workshops focusing on how to develop characters, how to structure a story, advice for budding writers and introspective ‘inner-self’ poetry.

Of the inner-self work Emma explains: “That part of the workshop can be quite an emotional experience. It’s asking people to draw on their own experiences and whilst it is often emotional it can also be very cathartic.

“It’s open to anyone at all who wants to try a new experience. It’s also a great bonding opportunity for the guests. I love to see everyone getting together and like-minded people finding things they have in common and forming friendships”.

Several spaces have already been reserved with people travelling from as far as Canada and Colorado – proving that the retreat is doing what it set out to do – in bringing tourism to the area.

Whilst, guests from anywhere in the world are more than welcome, Emma also stresses her desire to see local support too: “I never thought people would travel so far”, she said. “I am delighted to see it and love that some of the guests are also making extended trips out of their stay. But, I would also welcome anyone from the local area to attend. There are day passes available for those within travelling distance”.

“We would love to see this become an ‘on demand’ or seasonal thing as part of itinerary for Rosehill House. It really has been a labour of love and I just can’t wait to see the magic created in a room when people come together to create”.

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