There has been much good work done this year on the development project here at Ireland's Druidschool. The campus and the farm itself have both been evolved organically by comprehending and copying Nature. What follows is a brief report on various aspects of the development project.
The Torc, our ceremonial enclosure.
Inside the Torc we built a circular wall of 5m diameter x 1m high and covered this with a round canvas tent. We have used this for the Aislings - our Celtic Dreamings - Immramma, Eachtra agus Imbass to great success. The outer crescent temple is 'floored' with wood chippings (as is the tent in the Torc) and surrounded by natural bog oak roots that stand as sentinels. The Willow trees planted outside all this are also doing well.
The Reedbeds - sewerage treatment system.
We have wonderful reedbeds to transform all our flushed waste into organic growth. We have a normal two stage septic tank followed by a 3 way separator that feed the reedbeds evenly. Here we grow Sedge Grass, Reeds, Comfrey, Yellow Flag Irises and Willow. Cuttings from the willow section were planted around the vege garden area and are doing great. More willow cuttings will be made and planted by students on our Study and Live program.
The Tree Plantation
We have planted many native species on the land. A corridor for the wildlife is currently fenced off from wildlife to allow it to establish itself. Alder trees with their foliage that is similiar to Hazel are doing great and we are amazed at their growth in just one year. Our oak tree nursery is strong as we had students clear grass from the base of each tree and lay it as a mulch around each tree. We have 20 trees in re-used fertiliser bags that we intend to plant out this season - some of these will go to Teresa Treacy who had the esb jail her so they could force a pylon line through her native woodlands. We used a copper spiral around a planted out oak tree and has astonishing growth of new stems. We reckon we forced the growth too much and have since removed the spiral and relocated it to a damaged Frockan Tree.
Teach Allais (Sweat House)
Our Teach Allais is not in order. After severe weather we dismantled the traditional bent pole and tarp set up and intend to rebuild in a more solid fashion. We will use Quartz stones from the land to make the walls and put a slate roof over it. There will be a firebrick (donated) furnace near the door allowing the stone to be heated quickly and efficiently - this allows operation and maintenance by one person. The building of the Quartz Stone wall is planned for
Fri 20 to Sun 22 Quartz Sweat House and Fri 18 to Sun 20 Quartz Sweat House - Volunteers Wanted - free bed and food offered, click here for details.
Off grid electricty system.
Our off grid system is now working perfectly. We have a small demand so we could have a small capacity system - our 2.5kv downstream 6 blade turbine is on top of a 10m pole and fills up our battery storage so we can have power even if there is no wind for 3 days. By the 4th day the 1kv diesel backup generator kicks in automatically to supply power and to fill the batteries. The trick here is to have low demand - we have all low wattage lightbulds and all white goods are 'A' rated. We will add a 1.5kv pV panel to take electricity from the Sun when funds allow.
Our one acre medieval fort is maturing nicely - the ground is now solid and drains the rain perfectly. The high banks give that sense of security and the archery set up has been fully tested and everyone enjoyed it. We have had our 4th Lughnasa Games (video soon) and a large fly tent acted as kitchen in the fort. The Warriors of Queen Meave shoot was great fun too - thanks to Dutch and Nick for setting out the 3D targets. The flight shoot to targets in the long field was also enjoyed by all.
The 200 year old cow barn has been re-roofed. The mud is scraped out from between the rocks and then repointed with sand and cement. This is a slow and painstaking operation - enough was done so that the timber frame for the roof could be fitted. This has now been covered by profile on the roof and shiplap on the high walls. It has begun to dry out the floor... We will continue with repointing (Students will work on this), add a door and some windows and then the inside will be plastered up with Hemp and Lime putty.
The Urn Field.
We have designated a one acre (0.4h) field as a resting place for the ashes of loved ones. The will allow family and friends of the departed to dig and place the Urn themselves with any special items in the protected ground here at Druidschool. We have begun to transform the rushes in to grasses and an access route is being established. Some drainage is needed and two gates etc need to be fitted also. This field is surrounded by our fields and is on a part of the land that has no loans or mortgage on it. It is not open for use just yet.
We have purchased a ride on lawn mover. This is a great machine - it cuts and mulches thereby feeding the land so everything becomes more alive. The neatness factor is not to be forgotten either. This ride on allows the stock control fence to have the grass / rushes / weeds etc to be cut within an hour instead of all day with a strimmer.
We have had 3 draught mares with two foals here for most of the year - they have been relocated to their home farm on the other side of the hill. We still have two donkey mares who quietly graze the land and then every so often - he haw he haw... We have a family of mad hares who even come up to the main building. There are two Falcons who hover to hunt. There are Bats too - more recognisable now that the Swallows have gone. The ponds on the Rath have created the environment for Frogs who are multiplying. There is a Badger while not on our land may use our land as his set is quite close. We have Mink too. Pied Wagtails and Finches and Robins are plentyful. There are also Rats and a wild looking Cat has been seen a few times. In the Rath ponds we saw a Scorion like diver eat many Tadpoles - we found out that this is a Diving Beetle and an indicator of good water quality.
We wish to thank all the friends, family, students and volunteers who helped us.
Con and Niamh
Our south view from the main building - landscaping with magical intent is such fun. Wonder what it all looks like from above? This is where we host ceremony and moots as well as training student druids. Hidden are numerous trees and the wild flowers and herbs that are emerging now that there is no stock grazing... Many trees were donated and some are rescue trees taken from the edge of forest tracks before the slasher destroys them.