The Song House

A group singing (pre lockdown) at in the song house garden with the iconic Muckish in the background
A group singing (pre lockdown) at in the song house garden with the iconic Muckish in the background

I first came to Ireland on a family holiday aged 18. We visited Connemara and the rough grass sward, all those wild flowers and grasses in the wind and sun got into my bones.

 I came back as a student several times, invited by friends who lived in Bantry Bay. It was a very different world to the one I had known, and something rich & nourishing about it seeded itself deep in my heart.

Then decades of life took over - bringing up 3 children, 10 years of single parenthood, and developing a business as a community choir leader.

In my 50s I felt that familiar yearning again for wild places. So I created - Singing on the Wild Side – I’d take groups to Orkney, the isles of Skye and Eigg, Bardsey Island off the coast of Wales and fulfilling that yearning to return to Ireland - we found Corcreggan Mill in Donegal. It was perfect. We brought our first group of singers there in 2013 and we had such a wonderful time, we booked it again for the following Easter of 2014.

One afternoon, whilst exploring Inish Boffin, off the coast of Magheroarty, I got a phone call from my sister. She shared heart-breaking news that our other sister, Bina in the USA, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was one of those life moments that you don’t forget, leading into a hectic year, including 2 trips to visit Bina, my mother’s death in July and then Bina’s very sad and premature death in November. Inevitably I was led to asking myself the question- what have you not done in life that you need to do? And up it popped - shiny, forceful, irrepressible, incomprehensible, and seemingly impossible - I HAVE to live in the Celtic west!

So I made the decision to find a home in Donegal and after a fruitless search my friend and musical collaborator Lindsey Williams suggested I expand the search to somewhere I could work from. ‘Dream on’ I said, but the next thing, I was visiting a long low whitewashed building known as The Poets House, originally a traditional cottage but developed 20 years ago into an extensive house with 5 bedrooms, built in the same style - tall ceilings, rough plaster, a magic view over Muckish mountain from all windows. My heart knew it was home.

It took 6 months and with the help of several German singing friends, synchronicity, the death of my mum, Spirit not allowing this idea to die, and an understanding husband who knew that this was a personal soul journey, I bought the Poets House in 2014. It took me a year to complete work projects in England, to say goodbye to my choir Sounding it Out, to explain to my kids that I had to do this, and I moved over in Feb 2016, at the age of 62, on my own, wondering what on earth was I doing.

Five years on and the Song House has welcomed so many groups of people for singing, music, poetry, foraging, personal development, ecology, shamanism, family holidays, as well as my own Singing on the Wild Side and choir leader trainings.

The pandemic has been an enormous challenge, nevertheless, we adapted and began like many others, experimenting with the online realm. We ran our first online weekend on Traditional Donegal Song in June 2020. The outcome was way beyond expectation. Joining us were almost 50 people from Germany, Switzerland, all over the United States, the UK and Ireland. Since then, we have attracted participants from a dozen further countries, adding folks from Hawaii and even Australia to the list!

Next up we are very excited to join in the celebrations for the 1500th anniversary of Donegal born St Colmcille/ Columba. Starting in August, we have a series of poetry writing workshops with two very special poets: Annemarie Ni Churreain - now world renowned, who began her poetry writing career here when it was the Poet’s House - and Scottish poet Charlie Gracie. Together they will deliver workshops drawing inspiration and looking at cross-cultural perspectives from the life of our local saint. A valuable creative opportunity for aspiring writers, historians and poets. I love it – connecting folks from all over the globe to the richness and beauty of Donegal. Long may it continue!

So my advice is follow your dreams! It feels as if we have been led, I listened to the still small voice within, and my life has enriched and expanded further than I could have imagined. Please check us out here -

Maybe someday we will meet

on a path where our hearts

have been followed by our feet!

Thanks for reading, all good wishes Candy x