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Connacht Tribune

Feelgood factor of Nature Therapy

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Marion Edler from Crann Óg Eco Farm in South Galway with her dog Minnie. Nature Therapy is "about the pleasurable experiences around nature, sustaining us and opening us up to the healing power of nature,” she says. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets Marion Edler from Crann Óg Eco Farm who promotes the values of a simple life alongside nature

In a society where most of us spend our lives rushing around, usually glued to our mobile devices, Nature Therapy can help us slow down and become aware of ourselves and the world around us.

So says Marion Edler from Crann Óg Eco Farm in South Galway, who will be speaking on the value of Nature Therapy at the Burrenbeo Learning Landscape Symposium, which is taking place in and around Kinvara in early March.

Nature and Forest Therapist Marion will also be leading a walk in the Burren where people will be encouraged to tune into their own bodies by fully engaging with nature.

German-born Marion who runs Crann Óg with her husband, Flor Burke, has been promoting the value of simple living for more than two decades, since she first moved to Drummin at the foothills of the Siabh Aughty mountains.

Their 14-acre eco-farm in the hills has been awarded gold-star status by Eco Tourism Ireland, the internationally recognised accreditation body for sustainable tourism and it’s easy to see why. From the pond area, which Flor and Marion created using a nearby well, to the willows that help drain the naturally boggy soil, they have worked with the natural environment to create a holding that supports their small community – mostly this consists of family members and their co-workers, Paul and Marla, who also live onsite. Volunteers visit regularly, too, wanting to learn more about eco-farming and skills such as living willow sculpting.

Crann Óg has been welcoming tourists for many years, mostly people who want to reconnect with nature. And they do so in an eco-friendly way. The farm’s ‘longhouse’ which can sleep 12, has solar pipes on its roof that provide hot water in summer. In winter, a stove in the longhouse connects with the pipe system, which means there’s always hot water. The compost toilets come complete with instructions and, says Marion, they work brilliantly once people follow these.

For Marion, who lived off-grid for six years after moving to Drummin, the message is that “people can live happily with less”. And with practically everything in Crann Óg being made from recycled material, they are proof that it works. Comfort hasn’t been sacrificed either.

During the summer, in a field away from the main house, guests can also be accommodated in yurts and tepee style tents while having access to an octagonal communal shelter known as the Hogan. This tent, modelled on those of the Native American Navajo, is made from old wood pallets and canvas from a defunct marquee. It has a large circular opening at the apex, so guests can stargaze. Directly below is a circular fireplace, made from the metal rim of a tractor wheel. Even in heavy rain it’s dry inside, according to Marion. It’s where they hold storytelling nights, hosted by Flor, where guests are welcome to share their experiences.

Crann Óg’s location in South Galway is ideal for natural experiences, adds Flor. The Burren is 15 minutes in one direction, while Portumna and Lough Derg are in another. East Clare and its rich musical heritage is just over the mountain, and all around there are connections with Lady Gregory and WB Yeats as well as with Edward Martyn, another key figure in the Celtic revival, whose patronage was responsible for stained glass windows in many local churches, most notably St Brendan’s in Loughrea.

And, for people who want to engage close up with farming, there are ducks and ponies to be fed as well as pet sheep.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Galway Lotto prize winner off to see the King!

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A National Lottery player from Conamara is still in disbelief after claiming their EuroMillions ‘Ireland Only Raffle’ ticket worth a staggering €1,005,000 this week – and is already planning a trip to Graceland!

The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they didn’t realise they had the winning ticket.

“I was looking at my ticket and it didn’t have any of the EuroMillions numbers, I didn’t think I’d won anything, so I threw it somewhere in the car. I completely forgot to check the raffle code on the bottom of the ticket!

“A few weeks later I decided to do a clear out of the car and I found the ticket wedged down the side of the seat. I scanned the ticket on the app and called the National Lottery Claims Team and that’s when they told me I was a millionaire! I couldn’t speak, I was in such complete and utter shock!

“I had a plan to surprise my wife for her birthday by putting the cheque in the card, but my great plan lasted all of one hour, I just had to tell her, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”, they added.

The player purchased the winning EuroMillions ticket worth €1,005,000 on the day of the draw, Friday 19th August, in Costcutter in Beal an Dangan.

They revealed some plans they hope to achieve with the new life-changing prize.

“We’ve always wanted to go to Graceland in Memphis to visit the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself. That’s all we have in mind for the moment, we’re still letting it all sink in”, they said.

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Connacht Tribune

Exhumations to begin next year at Tuam Mother and Baby Home site

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A full exhumation of the bodies of children buried in the grounds of Tuam Mother and Baby Home will begin in 2023.

A ‘Director of Authorised Intervention’ is to be appointed by Government to oversee the excavation of the site where it is believed almost 800 children were interred in an unmarked grave.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, in bringing matter before the Dáil, said it was incumbent on the State to address what was “a stain on our national conscience”.

Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, said while the news on the exhumation was welcome, she had “lost faith” in the Government which she said had “learnt absolutely nothing” and had to be “dragged” every step of the way.

It had failed to bring forward a redress scheme for survivors of the home, she said, and Minister O’Gorman had rowed back on a previous commitment to have an independent human rights review of the testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

“I don’t think he should ever have promised that because he was never in a position to do it. He was never going to question the establishment narrative given to us by the three wise commissioners, the narrative that told us that the evidence of those who came forward was contaminated and should therefore be treated with caution,” said Deputy Connolly.

“We continue to begrudge and to do everything belatedly. If we are seriously interested in redress, let us do it right.”

Paying tribute to those who shone a light on the wrongdoings in the Tuam Home and elsewhere, Deputy Connolly said it was they who had forced the Government’s hand.

“On the ground, we have seen Catherine Corless and, well before her, Mary Raftery. I also want to mention Patricia Burke Brogan [activist and playwright] who died last week – may she rest in peace – with regard to the work she did in respect of the Magdalen laundries, in particular with the play Eclipsed.

“The groups on the ground have certainly forced us and dragged us every step of the way,” she said.

Agreeing, Minister O’Gorman said it was absolutely right to recognise critical the role of Tuam historian, Catherine Corless.

“We would not be here today but for her dogged persistence in highlighting what happened in Tuam.

“Deputy Connolly mentioned the redress legislation. This legislation has been worked on by my Department over the summer and I will bring it to Cabinet in October to seek approval for the final Bill and to bring it rapidly through the Houses [of the Oireachtas] and the committee, so that we can provide redress to family members,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Seán Canney, TD for Galway East, said what had happened had impacted the people of Tuam deeply and said the Director, when he or she is appointed, should be based in Galway and seek to engage with locals during the excavation process.

“It has created a sense of a stain on, or a shadow over Tuam as a town. Tuam is a very good town and has the finest people living there.

“The Minister has set out in his speech how a Director would be appointed . . . and that an office will be set up to manage the excavation and all that goes with it. However, it is important that there is local engagement with the people of the town,” said Deputy Canney.

“The office should be set in the town and there should be a liaison aspect to the brief that this director will have so people from the locality who want to know what is going on can find out,” he continued, adding that locals should be able to meet the Director in Tuam and not Dublin or anywhere else.

Minister O’Gorman outlined that the Director would oversee a phased forensic-standard excavation, recovery, analysis and re-interment of the remains.

“The order also provides that the Director will carry out an identification programme as an additional function for the intervention,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Customs ‘dip’ for green diesel on Aran island

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Revenue officers made an unannounced visit to Inis Mór last week – with around 10 customs officials performing spot checks for marked diesel.

The Connacht Tribune understands that three motorists were nabbed by the officers for driving with ‘green diesel’ – a fuel only permissible for off-road use, mainly in agriculture.

According to a source in Revenue, this surprise visit is a return to normal service, with spot checks having stalled during Covid.

As part of the operation, customs officers were drafted in from various locations and travelled to the island without prior notice to Gardaí.

Having arrived by ferry from both Galway Docks and Ros a’ Mhíl, officers performed a number of checks at the Pier in Kilronan and also visited Dún Aonghasa.

Vehicles were dipped for green diesel for which tax is paid at a much cheaper rate than road diesel. Those convicted of using marked diesel on the roads face a maximum fine of up to €5,000.

A garda spokesperson confirmed that a group of Revenue officers visited Inis Mór on Friday, September 16, and were facilitated by gardaí on the island.

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