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Nurturing Nature – September 23rd

Our next day on Nurturing Nature is on September 23rd from 10am to 4pm.

Writer Paul Kingsnorth and consultant ecologist Janice Fuller will facilitate the day. It will be a day of exploration of nature in our everyday lives.  How can we reconnect with the wonders of the natural world in our own lives and communities?  What can we do to communicate its importance to others?

It will be a nourishing day on many levels. We will be both indoor and outdoor.

The event is grant-aided.  The cost is 20e for lunch and refreshments.

To book email us at or phone 0909741689 before September 16th.

Awesomeness, Intimacy, Place

I do not often succumb to the urge to write! However an event yesterday is niggling me to do so. I attended the launch of the bird-hide in Portumna Forest Park on Saturday – a project conceived by Kieran Fallon of Coillte and Helen Carty of National Parks and Wildlife Service. The hide was built with the purpose of being able to view the White-tailed Sea Eagles on Church Island.
For me the launch was a special and moving occasion. The convenience of 4 telescopes allowed us to get close up to the now almost fully fledged chicks and it was a marvel. I also got a short view of some of Richard Foyle’s magnificent photos.

But there is another memory of the afternoon that is staying with me- maybe somewhat haunting me but in a very awesome way. This experience did not happen at the hide but on the walk to the hide. On the way I caught up with Anne Rabbitte and as we were chatting she told me that recently when she was out on the callows, one of the adult eagles landed close by. As she was describing the experience she conveyed a great sense of being overwhelmed, that she was trespassing and that she needed to get out of the place. I may be mistaken but I think this was not just a sense of fear but a sense of awe, a sense of the eagle’s strong presence and majesty, and of being overwhelmed with a deep sense of ‘place’. 

I like to stay with that feeling and believe that it is not only size that evokes such an experience and that the insect, tree, worm, mouse and all nonhuman species evoke a similar sense of awesomeness, intimacy and place. I am reminded of one of John Feehan’s mantras – ‘size is no measure of complexity’. Indeed John also describes a similar experience which he had on encountering a herd of elephants in the night in Malawi some years ago. He writes ‘ How can anybody who experiences this presence be so presumptuous as to deny this creature its God-given place on the earth? How can anybody who has come face to face with the elephant butcher it frivolously – so that some of us may use its teeth to decorate ourselves or its feet as umbrella stands in fashionable hallways – or banish it from the home for which it is made, so that we can grow tobacco?’

Migrating Trees

There has been a lot of attention focused on the role of climate change and increasing occurrences of severe weather events being contributing factors in human migration and conflict over the last decade and more.  Sea-level rise, extended droughts, and severe flooding events are just some of the symptoms that humans seek to move away from in attempts to safeguard families, cultures, and livelihoods.

Plants that have adapted to specific conditions in various regions are also finding themselves less able to thrive in changed climatic patterns but are without the locomotive capabilities of humans. ‘Assisted migration’ is an interesting response, but obviously comes with risks attached and is somewhat counter-intuitive given the strong rationale for planting natives that has informed much tree-planting in recent years. Perhaps it’s time to move past a strict line on this and increase the diversity of our tree species with an eye to the future?

What are your thoughts?

If you’re interested in this topic:


Seminar – Saturday, 1st of April

On Saturday April 1st we are delighted to be hosting a seminar on the theme of Care for our Common Home – Reconnect with the Sacred in Nature.

This will be a lively and positive day. We will be deeply inspired and our horizons will be broadened as the facilitators offer us a new vision and a new approach to everyday life.

Facilitators: Nellie McLaughlin, Paul Kingsnorth

Nellie teaches Creation Spirituality and is author of Out of Wonder and Earth’s Sacred BalancePaul is a writer and thinker and is interested in Spiritual Ecology.

Cost: €10 (Grant aided. Lunch included.)

Please book your place by March 25  – Ph. 087 284 5443 /

National Tree Week, 8 – 15 March

Each year we look forward to Tree Week and we always have some native trees and hedgerows lined up for planting.

Last year’s native hedgerow planted by 4th class from the local primary school is thriving. This year we will be planting another hedgerow and some trees.

We love our native trees and hedgerows and plant them for their own sakes but we are also keenly aware of the amount of wildlife they support – varieties of birds, of bees, of butterflies, myriads of insects, mammals, lichens, mosses, liverworts and ground vegetation-wild flowers. Our native trees are so beautiful and so rich in flowers and berries.

We are reminded of John McGahern’s observation that in the midst of confident life we forget what an amazing glory we are part of. In his book Memoir he describes the place in which he grew up:

The hedges are the glory of these fields, especially when the hawthorn foams into streams of blossom each may and June. The sally is the first tree to green and the first to wither, and the rowan berries are an astonishing orange in the light from the lakes every September. These hedges are full of mice and insects and small birds, and sparrowhawks can be seen hunting all through the day. In their branches the wild woodbine and dog rose give off a deep fragrance in summer evenings, and on their banks grow the foxglove, the wild strawberry, primrose and fern and vetch among the crawling briars….

Open Planting Day

We will have an open planting day on Wednesday 8th March. Let us know if you are coming. We do a mixture of native plants for the hedgerows – predominantly Whitethorn and Blackthorn, as they form a dense hedge. We add Holly, Guelder Rose, Spindle, Alder, Wild Rose, Hazel, Alder buckthorn and Purging buckthorn. This year we are also planting some trees – Birch, Alder, Rowan, Willow, Hazel and Bird Cherry.

Exercising the power that you have

The 2017 Oxford Real Farming Conference took place in early January and is a forum for discussing and developing approaches to agriculture and food that are based on ecological principles rather than the dictates of neoliberal economics. The opening plenary, touching on the topics of food democracy, politics and public health among others, was given by Olivier de Schutter and is well worth a listen. Although his focus in the talk is the UK, many of the points remain valid in the Irish context.

Audio Interview – Frederick Kirschenmann

Here’s an interesting interview with Frederick Kirschenmann. Kirschenmann has been a leading figure in the US over the last several decades in the area of sustainable, organic farming. The interview ranges over a number of topics including the depletion of resources (particularly Phosphorus), biodynamic agriculture, bioregionalism and the emerging new economy.

Listen to the episode here:


What are your thoughts on social media?

While having some misgivings and not wishing to add to the general crisis of attention brought on by the constant stream of information overload, we will be making some posts on Facebook in 2017. If you would like to be kept up to date with news of upcoming courses or other events and happenings here at An Gáirdín, please follow our page, and hopefully see you soon – in person.

An Enquiry into a New Story for Humanity

We’re delighted to be participating in the network of locations screening the premiere of the new documentary An Enquiry into a New Story for Humanity on Saturday evening, April 30. The film will be screened at 7pm and followed by a live stream of a post-film discussion from the Findhorn Foundation. All are welcome.


You can read an introduction to the film here.