Ancient Ireland - our ancestors' original permaculture forest?

Maddy Harland
Wednesday, 28th September 2011

Continuing my love affair with Ireland, today I discover a special place and travel back to the mists of time where the Celts roamed and foraged in an edible landscape full of magic and wonder, an ancient permaculture forest.

Today I discovered a photo blog by Colette O'Neill that caught my eye. So beautiful are the images in front of me and so powerful is the sense of connection with the land that I asked her if I could share them with you. I have visited The Permaculture Cottage before and admired the simple artistry and love of the land. Today I feel I am travelling through time to a Celtic landscape that sustained this extraordinary race of people.

Colette writes:

Stepped back in time today and into a part of Ireland that lies along the border between the North and the South of the land. This is an area linked strongly to 'The Tain', an ancient legend of the war between the two provinces of Ulster and Connaught. 


The ruins of this ancient church still stand on the land known as Thornhill, near the villages of Blacklion and Belcoo in the border region. The structure is only standing in part and is swathed in ivy, but the outline of the church is quite visible.

But we go back much further in time... into the mists of time itself... 

The trees that loom up out of the Cavan Burren are reminiscent of what would once have covered this landscape. The stones are cloaked in sphagnum moss. The land is covered with bilberry bushes. The Earth produces seasonal mushrooms. There are mounds of hazel deep within the forest. This is the ediblel landscape written about in Celtic poetry. A permaculture forest. 


And the ancient tomb of the warrior, maybe man or woman, as both were equal then... hidden within the dark recesses of the forest.


Moss covers the trees, spreading up towards the light. 




This photo blog has been reproduced with the generous permission of Permaculture Cottage, a regular blog from the Permaculture Centre in north west Ireland. Bealtaine Cottage is open for visitors, free of charge, throughout the seasons. Cuttings, advice and encouragement are all free of charge. Bealtaine is funded with nothing but enthusiasm for helping Gaia... simple as!

If you wish to visit, please email to arrange a suitable time: [email protected]