River Mill Retreat
Contact: Paul Maddern
TEL: +44 (0) 2844 842 531
Built in 1718, this former flour mill is in the heart of the rural Lecale region of South Down, Northern Ireland. Fully restored by the previous owners in 2008, The River Mill is now a boutique reading and writing retreat.
We offer Individual Residencies and Mentored Weeks. Our 5 en-suite bedrooms, communal spaces and garden are designed with the needs of writers and readers in mind.
WHAT WE OFFER
Ground floor, king-size bed, writing desk, en-suite wet room, and wheelchair accessible.
Ground floor, king-size bed, writing desk, en-suite wet room, and small patio area to rear of building.
First floor – a smaller room with a small double bed, writing desk and en-suite wet room
First floor – smaller room with a single bed, writing desk and en-suite wet room
First floor, master suite, double-bed, writing desk, walk-in closet, high vaulted ceiling with skylight, and en-suite bathroom.
Telephone : +44 (0) 2844 842 531
The River Mill
43 Ballyclander Road
The River Mill was built in 1718 and contributed to the then thriving milling industry in the Lecale region of South Down. When that industry collapsed, the mill was abandoned until the ruin was bought by Aidan and Theresa McAteer in 2006. They restored the building to its former glory and added some modern design elements, such as geo-thermal underfloor heating. (Thank you very much!) The McAteers ran a successful B&B business at the mill until they sold it to Paul Maddern who, with a career in both hospitality and creative writing, recognized the mill's potential as a literary retreat.
Paul, the sole owner and operator of the mill, was born in Bermuda. He obtained a degree in Film Studies from Queen's University, Ontario, then lived in Denver, San Francisco and London before moving to Ireland. After attempting a career in dance, he jetéd into the restaurant business and in London he held managerial positions at Branganza, the Limelight, the Groucho Club and 192 Kensington Park Road. When he moved to Co Down in 2000 he worked at Fontana Restaurant, Holywood, before returning to higher education at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen's University, Belfast. There, he obtained a Creative Writing MA (Poetry) and then a PhD in English. He has since taught Creative Writing at the Heaney Centre and the University of Leeds.
He has 3 publications to date, all with Templar Poetry: Kelpdings (2009), The Beachcomber's Report (2010, shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award) and Pilgrimage (2017). He's currently working on The Tipping Line, due for release in late 2018, again with Templar.
The guiding principle of The River Mill is simple: respect. Respect for the history of the building; respect for our neighbours and the surrounding environment; respect for the writers and readers who come to stay; and respect for the craft of writing. With this in place, your stay at the mill will hopefully be a time to generate ideas, start putting them into practice (perhaps even refining them!), and where you can enjoy the company of a small group of like-minded people.
While we of course want you to use your time at The River Mill to read and write, we realise that sometimes you need to 'clear the head' and that a break is required.
Ballyclander Road provides a lovely walk through the immediate area, but there's much to see in the nearby city of Downpatrick, including Down Cathedral, St Patrick's Visitors Centre, Down Arts theatre and gallery, Down Leisure Centre, and Downpatrick Race Course. The city has a wide range of retail outlets, including a large shopping complex, and there are several banks, restaurants and many pubs.
Close to Downpatrick, you can walk the banks of the scenic Quoile River, and visit the ruins of Inch Abbey, the holy sites of Struell Wells and Saul Church, the beautifulRowallane Gardens, and Castle Ward, where scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed.
The picturesque fishing village of Ardglass, south of the mill, has several popular restaurants and there's a lovely coastal drive to Strangford, where you can catch the ferry across to the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry and possibly drive a little further to the house and gardens of Mt Stewart. In Portaferry, depending on ferry times back across the lough, you could perhaps see an evening show at the Portico,
In the other direction from The River Mill, heading towards Newry, there's Castlewellan Forest Park the majestic stretch of Tyrella Beach, the ancient Murlough Dunes, Tullymore Forest Park, and of course the Mourne Mountains, which "sweep down to the sea" at Newcastle.