About Sean and columbia & Columbia
We have lived in several different countries, both in Europe and in the US, built our own homes (from scratch) and have had many international house-sitters taking care of our present home in Ireland for more than four years, at least four times a year. Sean - an author, publisher, editor and international correspondent for more than 30 years (i...
We have lived in several different countries, both in Europe and in the US, built our own homes (from scratch) and have had many international house-sitters taking care of our present home in Ireland for more than four years, at least four times a year. Sean - an author, publisher, editor and international correspondent for more than 30 years (including Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, Daily Telegraph, London, The Irish Times, Dublin, etc). He now travels the world writing feature articles focusing mainly on hotel properties, interesting city or country destinations, fine restaurants and diverse activities. Columbia - the organizer par excellence in our family, is a well-respected photographer (her work mostly illustrates the feature articles). We are non-smokers.
As homeowners for sixteen years in Easter Europe and then more than 15 years in Ireland, we take pleasure in making a house feel like home by caring for each aspect that gives its character and charm. We also take immense pleasure in the enjoying the company of animals - we have two border collies ourselves and we host many sitters during the year when we are on assignments.
Sean John Hillen has been journalist, editor, publisher, media trainer and public speaker for more than thirty years.
Born in west Belfast, northern Ireland, he worked for various national newspapers there, including the Belfast Telegraph as well as the BBC, and in Dublin for The Irish Times, before emigrating to the United States to work at the United Nations Media Center in New York. From there Sean moved to the US Midwest to work in print and broadcast media, including news correspondent for Scripps Howard Broadcasting, now an NBC-affiliate, and as general and then health correspondent for The Kansas City Times (interestingly, here, Sean held the same editorial position as did Ernest Hemingway – aka night crime/murder reporter).
Over the years, Sean’s work has also appeared in many other publications including Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal, as well as the American Medical News, the national newspaper of the American Medical Association in Chicago and American Nurse, magazine of the American Nurses Association.
Sean has won many local, regional and national journalism awards before leaving the US for post-Communist Eastern Europe in search of adventure, immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1990 he established the first journalism schools there, working with international agencies such as the United Nations Development Fund, UNICEF and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). He became foreign correspondent for The Times and later, The Daily Telegraph, London, the largest circulation broadsheet newspapers in the UK, before founding his own national publishing and events company in Bucharest, Romania, for 15 years, employing a full-time staff of more than 30 people.
Sean was elected chairperson of the US Fulbright Commission in Romania for a number of years and received national awards from the President of Romania, Traian Basescu, for launching the nation’s first-ever Corporate Citizen, Civic Journalism & Community Service Awards.
Sean now lives in Donegal in picturesque northwest Ireland with his Transylvanian-born wife, Columbia, and two sheepdogs, Siog (fairy) and Lugh (a legendary Celtic figure who slew Balor of the Evil Eye), where he follows a journalism and writing career, as well as being a media and writing skills coach (Fios and Ireland Writing Retreat).
Aged 60, though looking slightly younger (a wee bit), Sean is a published author – with non-fiction books on the practice of journalism and media training techniques and an informative, light-hearted, intra-country travel book entitled ‘Digging for Dracula.’ Sean’s writings can also be found locally on Donegal News; nationally in The Irish Times Travel magazine; and internationally on JustLuxe, Examiner and Worlditineraries
Columbia, nickname ‘Coco,’ is a small-town girl with big-town dreams, originally from the mountains of Transylvania, where, she recalls, “autumns were a splash of splendid color but winters were so cold and bare my memories of them are all in black and white.”
At a young age, she would borrow her father’s brushes and oils but didn’t advance far beyond painting her own face, her hands and the back (and front) of the living-room sofa, so she turned to words instead, graduating in journalism and launching her own national newspaper in Bucharest, Romania, while still in her -mid-20s.
In the midst of a 15-year media management career, Columbia met Sean, loved bloomed (as it tends to do, often when least expected) and moved to a rural, rustic - utterly gorgeous - region, Donegal, in the pristine northwest of Ireland. Since then, she has been torturing family, friends and her two Irish collies dogs, to pose under the pretext of winning the Nobel Prize in Photography (Is there one? If not, there should be?). In an area replete with beautiful lakes, islands, rivers and mountains, and lying, as it does, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, it should come as no surprise that Columbia has a particular love of capturing diverse landscapes and seascapes. To relax, away from the lens, Columbia cooks up a storm, and is sometimes rather difficult company over dinner out, when she starts to analyze dishes, then photographs them.
Columbia has her own photoblog and photo website (columbiahillenphotography) and is a member of the World Photography Organization and the Saatchi Gallery.