We are developing a multi-faceted project here in Castlerea to accommodate the many aspect of Sl� an Dru� � the path of the Celtic Lightworker. Many individual projects are in their second or third stage and some are just beginning so we decided to give an outline of what is happening so our friends, students and Grove members worldwide can have an understanding of where we are at with our project development plans.
The main building
This is our home where we can offer 4 places in bunk beds with an en-suite shower, whb and toilet to our guests. We have the Hemp Hall (the biggest room) in the old part of the house and at the east end we have our library. A large kitchen and entrance hall makes 6 rooms on the ground floor. We have our own private area upstairs with our en-suite bedroom, hot press, office and gym � we are �in� but of course there is much more to do. All external walls are insulated with a thick hemp and lime mix. This allows the house (built without a damp course with large stones from the fields 200 years ago) to breathe and it gives a great feeling and ambiance inside. Our attic is partly insulated with sheep�s wool and this job will be finished before the winter of 2010/11. We have under floor heating throughout the entire building and our solid fuel stove heats this very quickly. We burn smokeless coal, turf and wood and have a great high efficiency with a very low carbon footprint. All lighting is low wattage and all white goods are �A� rated. We cook on gas and do not have a TV.
This is where I make and teach Celtic leather craftwork. I specialise in hand made medieval leather items such as shoes, slippers, belts, bags and helmets and other special requests for the Celtic and Medieval period. I have even made �kit� for the Romans and the 18th century French re-enactors. In here we also keep the camp equipment and tents etc for our medieval fort when it is too wet and dark to have it all set up outside. The workshop includes a small light engineering set up with just the basic power tools. All gardening tools and equipment are currently stored here too as are my hand tools from when I worked as a craftsman plumber.
We run a 3Kw wind turbine to supply all our electricity. We are off grid so we do not add to the electrical demand for the nation. We have a green diesel generator for back up. Our 3Kw set up is small by normal standards but we designed our consumption to be small in the first place so we do not need a high power supply. We are at 450ft above sea level and we get a prevailing wind from the northwest. This system is currently out of action due to gross incompetence by the company that did the installation but it is in the process of being re-fitted with a new inverter and new batteries. Currently being replaced - pictures end Jan 2011, hopefully.
Sweat Lodge (Teach Allais)
A high earthen bank creating a separate reality encloses our sweat lodge. At the entrance I will build a proper gate with a Hazel wood frame that I have been given by a local man. Inside is the fire pit to heat the stones and the stand up cold shower to energise us after the �sweat�. We use a fire made with wild wood to heat the stones until they begin to crack � then it is time to bring them to the lodge. The Bronze Age tradition in Ireland had the hot-stone pit just inside the door and we replicate this method. We are currently rebuilding the lodge itself using quartz sandstone to make a circle of 3ft high walls � the roof will be decided later but inside we will have raised seating made from decking and an inner liner made using woolen blankets. Currently planned as a rebuild using Quartz sandstone from our land Dec 2010.
We have dedicated a one-acre field to our replica of a moated Rath found at Cloonfree, near Strokestown. In 1270 Aedh O�Conchubhair (aka Hugh O�Connor) built a wet moated rath of about 1 acre as a Gothic Party House and we are using this as a basis for our Rath. We visited Cloonfree with a highly respected archaeologist and were privileged to have a one-hour lecture on site. Built during �Norman� times it was a gesture of opulence and celebration while the invaders had to hide inside their stone castles. Hugh had married a Scottish princess and part of her dowry was 150 Galloglass or Scottish mercenaries. These professional soldiers camped outside the Gaelic Gothic Fort. It consisted of two banks with a wet ditch, and a south facing entrance, a high tower in one corner and a single main building with crux frame structure. We are far from this � we have the outer banks and the wet ditch laid out and have established a dry space for our tents and put in a stone pathway with a large fire pit but no large wooden building as yet. We have our medieval Lughnasa Games here every August using live weapons. More on Facebook as RoscommonSword.
Torc (Ceremonial Enclosure)
We have built our very own private circular ceremonial enclosure that we call the Torc. This was the first structure we built when we took over guardianship of the land. It was made from the bank of earth that was up against the old stone house and this bank was creating constant dampness so it had to go � the problem quickly became a resource as the earth bank was re-located to become the Torc. It is 60ft wide and 7ft high with a central fire pit and is covered with 3 leaf clover that tourists would call shamrock. No weed killer is used to keep it in order � just the strimmer and the rake. An entrance way made from Hazel will be added later this year � the wood has been cut and is now on site. It is our hope to build a freestanding roof on a log frame inside the Torc to make it into an all year place for fire ceremony � a kind of outdoor location but with a partial roof where we can have full and dark moon gatherings around the central fire. A wild wood frame and high doors now enclose the Torc - pictures due Spring 2011...
We have 16 acres (6.5Ha) of land with our house. It was let go derelict about 20 years ago and when we took it over (06) it was difficult to walk through it. We have let a local man have it for rough grazing for his horses in exchange for opening up the drains and topping the rushes. He has done a great job and we can now get to most fields for most of the year. We intend to plant up to 7 acres with native broadleaf trees as we begin to establish a forest garden, the grant application for this is currently in process. We intent to have a walking archery range built into this perimeter forest. All streams and drains are being designed to go to the middle of our farm where we intend to have a one-acre pond. This confuses neighboring farmers who are intent on getting water off their lands � but we are creating a Permaculture and a large pond in the middle is very important to create a space for a wildlife reserve.
We have installed a large red bed as a tertiary waste water treatment system. This has been built to allow us to accommodate large groups and is a feature in our sustainable set up. We use a range of plants � Sedge, Comfrey, Reeds, Iris, Willow and what ever nature adds to process all of our waste water into healthy clean vegetative growth. This is all done by design and we do not use electrical pumping. The birds and the bees and every flying thing seem to really like visiting the reed beds.
This has finally reached the stage of actual layout having been on the long finger for two years now. We had the stones from an old shed delivered to us by a local man who knew our intention and the dry stone walls for the north side of the garden are being prepared now. This project needs drains to be opened up before any other work because the earth is black and heavy and slow draining. A small pond is being incorporated to house the frog population who will in turn reward us with free and efficient slug population control.
Teampaill na Tri Coiri
The Pagan Temple is a salvage operation of a 200-year-old cow shed. This shed was built using stones and clay from the fields around it and has stood the test of time well. I am re-pointing the joints with sand and cement and I hope to get a roof on to it this year. I have built in a liner for the flue that will be fitted to the solid fuel stove at a later date. The inside will be lined with hemp and lime mix and it will be totally off grid because there will not be an electrical supply. Only daylight and candles will illuminate the Pagan Temple of the Three Cauldrons. We have 3 cast iron cauldrons for this temple and look forward to its dedication to the sean nos or the old ways. Much wall repairs completed, concrete base and surrounding pad 50% laid - a temporary roof is next - by summer 2011 is the plan.
This is mainly determined by the weather. As I write (May 2010)(update Dec 2010) we have a volcanic sulfurous ash warning because of a volcano erupting in Iceland. So I am indoors when I would prefer to be outside building, tidying, organising and preparing the many different parts of the project as outline above. We are fortunate in that we have people who help us to do the work and we also have the good will of many local people. We are not in a hurry but we want to have more done than we currently have � we need funds, volunteers and good weather to make the plan into reality. We say thank you to family and friends and to those who have given their help and to those who have made donations, we say thank you to the locals for their advice and we say thank you to the spirit of the land for the opportunity to be spiritual guardians of such a wonderful place.
All fees and Donations paid to Ireland�s Druidschool go to our Project Development.