Ireland Exploration Overview

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September 23- October 6, 2017

Spend three days working with Irish basketmaker Joe Hogan: We will spend an amazing three days working with Irish basketmaker Joe Hogan in his studio set in the sweeping hills of Connemara to create our own traditional willow baskets. Joe is an internationally regarded author of ‘Basketmaking in Ireland’, (which each guest will receive as a signed copy) and is instrumental in preserving the traditional knowledge of willow basketmaking. We are so fortunate to be able to learn from him.

Explorations of the largest remaining oakwoods in Ireland, and expert guided walks of forests, bog and mooŕ: In Connemara we will visit the one of the last remaining intact oak woodlands, wander through diverse bogs, visit beach and moors.  This day will end with an optional Pony Trek on the beaches and moors, and perhaps we’ll spot some Connemara ponies along the way. In Killarney area we will walk amongst the last remaining stand of old yew in Ireland, each tree a being of its own, and travel by boat to the largest intact oakwoods in Ireland, and seek out ‘Dogarry Woods’ considered to be what is likely the only uncut and truly native oldwoods left in Ireland.

Enjoy traditional music in the pubs of Doolin Village and others along the way: In Connemara we will visit a bodhran maker and learn the Irish drum. We’ll stay in the tiny village of Doolin with ocean views of the Cliffs of Morar and the Aran Islands, and walking distance from beautiful old pubs, known as the ‘secret mecca’ of Irish traditional music. Killarney and Clifden are also known for their traditional music, so we will hope to encounter more along the way. The people living in this region also still speak the Irish, and we will learn some of the language to use to greet people along our way.

Learn weaving on the Aran Islands: We will take the foot ferry to the Aran Island for an overnight stay, with beautiful beaches, castle ruins and rare plant communities, and visit with master weavers to learn about the art of wool weaving and dying wool for making the Crios, an ancient form of weaving in Ireland, now used for the handfasting ceremonies and straps.

Botanize in The Burren and the Burren Perfumery– The Burren is one of the most unique plant communities in Ireland, on limestone ‘karst’ soils with endless stone walls crisscrossing the terrain, stone forts and ancient dolmans. The Perfumery is in a remote valley in The Burren where they make their own perfumes from Irish plants, with a lovely herb gardens and a tea room.

Harvest and make hedgerow jelly and plant medicines: We will wander ancient footpaths from our white-washed garden cottage near Killarney (‘Gaelic for ‘Church of Sloes’) to harvest sloe berry, black elder, crabapple, rosehips, hawthorn and herbs from hedgerows and meadows which we’ll bring home to make our own hedgerow jellies, herbal salves and natural dyes.

Visit stone circles, dolmans, Ogham stones, burial cairns, beehive huts, monastic sites, holy wells and famine farm ruins– All along the way we will visit stone cairns, dolmans, ogham stones, stone circles and other archeological sites which dot this ancient landscape, spanning the ages- holy wells, ring forts, monastic sites, beehive huts, and the sad remains of the farms left empty after the great famine. We will spend one day in the Cúil Irra peninsula  near Sligo with the most dense stand of megalithic tombs in Ireland, and another day travelling the Dingle Peninsula with the most numerous and diverse archeological sites in Western Europe.

Visit important attractions and museums along the way; National Museum of Ireland Folk Life; Great Blasket Centre, Innis Oirr Craft Center, the Gap of Dunloe, Cliffs of Morar, the Kylemore Abbey and Walled Garden, Muckross House & Gardens, the Dingle Peninsula, the cute shops of Clifden and Killarney, and craft centers we encounter along the way.

Enjoy Irish Traditional Foods we prepare: Menu items such as Parsnip and Kale Colcannon; Irish Stew; Brown Bread & Irish Cheese; Corned Beef & Cabbage; Buttered Leeks; Turnip Champ; Irish Apple Cake; Lamb Chops; Roast Chicken; Smoked Salmon and Herring; Irish Oatmeal; and we’ll throw in lots of fresh organic salads and greens, fresh fruits, granola, yogurts, nuts and more! Oh and, Irish beer, wine and hot whiskeys, of course! Our friend Kat, shown above, who lives in Ireland will help us shop and prepare these foods during our trip!

Orientation and Followup Workshops: I will offer two ‘orientation’ classes prior to the trip- Plants of Ireland; and What to Pack and Planning (required); and we will have one followup Potluck and Projects Day to complete our projects. Upon registration I will provide a more detailed itinerary, offer suggestions for maps, books to read prior to the trip, resources, tools, and other planning suggestions. You can also join in on some ‘Irish’ language informal classes so we can at least say hi in the Gaelic!