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 continued to operate but at a reduced rate until milling was abandoned before WWII. The ruin was bought by Aidan and Theresa McAteer in 2006 and restored to its former glory, with the addition of 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.
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.
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 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.
Paul has 4 publications with Templar Poetry: Kelpdings (2009), The Beachcomber's Report (2010, shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award), Pilgrimage (2017), and The Tipping Line (2018). He has been awarded two Bermuda Government Literary Awards for his poetry and his poem, 'Effacé' is on the Northern Irish GCSE syllabus. He recently edited Queering the Green: Post-2000 Queer Irish Poetry, published by the Lifeboat Press (Belfast, 2021)