Belfast Telegraph

Tele Recommends: Northern Ireland's best places to write

We've consulted the experts to bring you the best Northern Ireland has to offer - the places, the food, the music, the craic.

Bernie McGill is author of The Butterfly Cabinet, named by Julian Fellowes as his novel of the year in 2012. She lives in Portstewart and works as a creative writing facilitator.

What is Tele Recommends?

Asked to name Northern Ireland's five best places to write, Bernie recommends...

The Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast

Preferably sitting in front of a Lavery painting with a notebook in your hand. It's nice and quiet in there and it's extraordinary what you can see when you give yourself permission to look. That hard wooden bench will keep you focused.

The Linenhall Library, Donegall Square North, Belfast

The members' area has the best seats (and brass lamps with fancy green shades) but you haven't paid your subscription and you're not here for comfort. You'll have to suffer while you write, on a coggly chair or a horsehair-stuffed sofa that's lost its springs. You still get to look out through those high-arched sash windows to Belfast below and breathe in the smell of books that hundreds of other people have managed to write.

Central Library, Royal Avenue, Belfast

There's a dome on the first floor for heaven's sake, what more would you want? You can sit under it and think aspirational thoughts and you can write.

Barmouth Wildlife Reserve, Portstewart

You'll have to leave your car on the road, stuff a notebook and pen in your pocket and walk for a couple of miles but when you get there your head will certainly be cleared of all the stuff that isn't writing and you can sit on the rocks for hours and watch the Bann run out to meet the sea and write to your heart’s content.

On a bench at the harbour on Rathlin Island

The ferry comes in, the ferry goes out. Life slows down. No one speaks to you. You have a sandwich and a flask in your hand. There's a big stone table in front of you that looks like it's been carved out of the rocks. There are public toilets. You've no excuse. Get writing.

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