Ireland’s Family Friendly Eco-Retreat Boghill Turns Twenty
This August, the Boghill Centre in County Clare, Western Ireland, is celebrating its twentieth birthday with Traditional Irish Music Workshop weeks. Co-founder Sonja O’Brien explains that the celebrations are part of a “gathering initiative,” which the centre hopes will draw back the many musicians who have previously enjoyed Boghill’s music workshops, and also attract newcomers to this special part of the Burren.
Boghill was originally set up in 1993 as a centre for music, arts, crafts and outdoor activities, but has since evolved into an eco-destination, accredited by Ecotourism Ireland, offering a range of ways to connect with and help the local environment. There is an important holistic slant to activities at Boghill, and over time it has also become renowned for traditional Irish music.
It is this musical heritage and prestige that O’Brien – also music teacher at the centre - hopes to bring to the fore in summer, when Boghill will turn twenty. “Over the 20 years I have seen many musicians in our music workshops with different levels instruments and abilities, different approaches and ways of learning, limiting beliefs and fears that block their musical expression,” she explains, but believes that there is no-one who does not have musical ability and there is always a reason why people develop a block: her motto is that “music should be fun,” and she uses this to help people unlock their abilities. “Whatever the level of playing, everybody always left playing better after a week at Boghill,” she promises, and the Traditional Irish Music Workshop Weeks this summer should be a showcase of the centre’s musical success stories. The experience will be rounded off with a Bumper Birthday Party on 10 August, which will combine traditional Irish hospitality and festive spirit with fantastic music from the surrounding area and far beyond.
Whilst the Boghill Centre is a great resource and destination for musicians, it has far more to offer than just music-orientated holidays. This multi-faceted “residential holistic eco venue” is a haven for those seeking relaxation, to reconnect with the natural world and to indulge in a range of artistic and outdoor pursuits – with something on offer for people of all ages, including tailored family holidays. The centre’s policy of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle’ constitutes a rigorous set of ecological standards. These include countryside management, growing their own produce, using environmentally friendly products, a thorough energy policy, and much more besides. This ethos fits in perfectly with the verdant natural scenery that surrounds Boghill, and the unique limestone karst landscape of the Burren nearby. A holiday at Boghill offers you the chance to discover the beauty and history of the surrounding area, plus the opportunity dine on its fresh vegetarian produce, lovingly cooked and served up at the centre.
A great way to get an insight into the world of Boghill is to take part in one of its activity workshops. This most certainly is not a place where you sit idly on the side: at a cob-building workshop you are thrown - almost literally - into the thick of it. Cob is a traditional building material from Western Ireland (and various other parts of the world), composed of clay, sand straw. According to O’Brien, the beauty of cob is that “it is a very sculptural way of building and the nice thing about it is that anybody can do it,” unlike many building methods which require heavy lifting. At Boghill, they dig the clay from the ground themselves, and it isn’t just used for making cob – there’s also the chance to make your own pottery in their traditional ceramics studio, and the local clay turns “a nice deep red when fired”.
What else is on offer? Well - have you ever felt frustrated that you just can’t make your favourite tune sound the way it should? In addition to this summer’s celebrations, the Boghill Centre offers music courses for all levels – the whilstling along holiday allows both parents and children (under twelves travel for free if they are accompanied by a paying adult) to learn the art of Irish whistling whilst exploring Boghill’s 50 acres of land and top-flight facilities. By the end of the week, the whole family will be able to whistle along to a range of traditional Irish favourites!
The Boghill Centre offers a huge range of different holidays, as well as simple eco-friendly accommodation facilities for those wishing to explore the Western Irish countryside and its rich culture. If you’re appetite has been whetted, then check out some of their fantastic holidays, from music courses to holistic healing, active breaks and walking in the Burren. Below is a selection of their current offers.
- A budget three-day family break from 99€ per person full board – kids come free and there are great opportunities to interact with nature and enjoy the centre’s activities.
- Summer Holiday Activity Weeks from 495€ full board, with guided walk, home-cooked food, activities inclding kayaking, surfing and climbing, plus traditional Irish music sessions.
- A range of different Burren Eco Breaks from 595€ full board with a full programme of activities.