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Hippy dream comes to life as a haven in woodland

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Judy Murphy finds an eco-conscious guesthouse and equestrian centre hidden in a Galway forest

Taking a small right-hand turn down a byway on the road from Loughrea to Woodford, about eight miles outside Loughrea, there is little to indicate the hive of activity that lies down this narrow, leafy boreen.

With barely room for one car, it looks like a glorified byroad, leading nowhere except to an area of forest. And eventually that is where it ends up. But before that there’s a real surprise, because a short distance down, on the right hand side is a  nine-bedroom boutique guesthouse and equestrian centre, with a certified organic restaurant and gardens, which opened last November and is offering a sustainable approach to tourism, local and international.

The Three Towers in Kylebrack West, Loughrea, is owned and run by mother and daughter team, Ester and Merel Zyderlaan. It is Moroccan in style and full of personality – “hippy chic”, laughs Ester, who is the driving force behind the centre and who ensured that all the fixtures and furniture have come from ecologically sound sources. Some of the furniture, like the massive teak table in the living area was reclaimed from floorboards in the family’s original house, other items like the comfy chairs in the bedroom, were sourced from markets in Amsterdam and carefully restored by this resourceful Dutch woman.

The centre is the realisation of a dream that sometimes must have seemed like a nightmare, especially as there was a period when Ester had to stop work for four years as the bank refused to release any money for the development. But her belief in the project – plus a grant from Galway Rural Development – saw it completed and she is justifiably proud of what is going one in the Three Towers.

When Esther and her family first arrived in Ireland from Holland in 1978, their aim was to live the “hippy dream’”.

They bought seven acres in Kylebrack West and lived in a camper van while their house was being built. They bought goats and cows and made cheese, which they sold in the market in Galway.

These days, a lot has changed. The cows and sheep are gone, replaced by about 30 horses and ponies, as well as the eco-friendly guesthouse and restaurant, while there’s a conference centre and spacious garden that can cater for events from weddings to conferences in singular style.

Ester is still a hippy at heart but she is also an astute business woman with a keen awareness of environmental issues and this is reflected in the ethos of the Three Towers. “A workaholic” is how she describes herself.

The Three Towers developed from an equestrian centre which Ester set up in the mid 1980s to take advantage of its hinterland of the Sliabh Aughty Mountains – the property, which has been extended to 16 from the original seven acres – is surrounded on three sides by more than 50 miles of woodland and river trails. `

The equestrian centre is accredited by both the Association of Irish Riding Establishments, the British Horse Society and Bord Fáilte and caters for riders of all ages and ability. There’s an all-weather sand arena, a full set of jumps, a diverse cross-country course and any amount of trails through the forest and local countryside. That makes it an attractive destination for young riding clubs, Ester explains.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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A man lies on a bed of nails at the opening of Galway Shopping Centre, Headford Road, on October 26, 1972

1921

Silence is golden

Leaders on both sides have stated that the best assistance the country can give in the making of peace is to keep silence.

During the past week there has been a great deal of speculation, most of it harmless enough, as, for instance, the enterprising American journalist’s “exclusive” on the first meeting of the British Premier and the President of the Irish Republic; much of it positively mischievous, as the case of the efforts of a certain journal, which has grown hoary in the reputation for throwing in the apple of discord, to anticipate failure in advance.

Our American colleague was on surer and on safer ground when he told of how de Valera and Lloyd George met.

“Mr. Lloyd George,” he cabled, “was sitting at his desk when the Irish President entered. For just a minute these two gazed fixedly at one another. Then the British Premier walked across the intervening space and shook de Valera by the hand. He led him to a seat where they sat side by side. The atmosphere was tense. They faced one another. Then Lloyd George reached down for a box of cigars. But the Irish President is of Spartan mould. He neither permits himself to drink nor smoke. He politely but firmly waved the box away. Mr. Lloyd George, however, selected and lighted a Havana, and as the smoke curled upwards the atmosphere became decidedly easier!”

Good planning

The wise and practical man always lays by a store against the time when supplies will be scarce. One of the most serious effects of the prolonged drought is the scarcity of supplies of fodder for cattle-feeding during the coming winter and spring.

The hay crop is not more than half the average yield. The corn crop is far below normal. Turnips in many districts are a partial failure. We have frequently emphasised the importance of growing catch-crops to supplement other feeding stuffs raised on the farm, but it is only under circumstances such as the present that their utility is brought home to farmers. Owing to the early harvest, a larger area than is usual can and should be put down this season. This would make good, to some extent, at least, the shortage of hay and other feeding-stuffs.

The demonstration plots laid down by the County Committee of Agriculture have shown that catch-crops, such as vetches and rye as well as other mixtures, can be successfully grown in all parts of County Galway.

We would urge on farmers the desirability – nay, the necessity – of procuring seed and making early preparation for the sowing of an increased area of catch-crops this season.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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Country Living

A weekly peep into wacky and wonderful world of country life

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In the mid-1970s, JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY was a schoolboy with a camera who had an eye for the unusual shots. He took this picture outside McDonagh’s Thatch Bar in Oranmore of a gentleman taking a break from the rigours of life, with the Connacht Tribune poster on the window and also note the weekly Woman’s Choice magazine on the other side. In those days, ‘print was king’.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s most unusual these days in the newspaper game to get anything in the post. Everything pops in on the email  . . . we’re all hopping in and out of Google every few minutes . . . and of course if the mobile is more than a metre away from our person, it’s as if we’re standing naked in a crowded church.

Anyway, last week, a handwritten envelope arrived from the current editor of the Tuam Herald, David Burke, who I soldiered with for a number of years back in the 1980s, which included a copy of an old column I had written for The Herald, back in January of 1984.

The column was called Country Scene and was written under the pen name of Pierce Ploughman, a king of play of words (I think) on a famous late 14th century poem called Piers Plowman and written by a William Langland, dealing with the quest for the true Christian life.

At the time one of the reasons for the pen name was that it would allow me to write a bit more anonymously about some of the characters I’d meet on the highways and byways of country life, but of course after the first column or two, my cover was blown.

One of the jolts we all get from looking back at things from the past is of course that realisation that time seems to have slipped so quickly – almost as in the blink of an eye.

The column David Burke sent to me, and written over 37-years ago, actually jogged a little memory tributary in my brain. I could remember writing it and I could remember the local character it was based on too, thankfully still alive, hale and hearty.

His name in the column was Malachy and like Pierce Ploughman of course it wasn’t his real one and his novelty in his trait of never being quite able to make up his mind about anything. One of Malachy’s dilemmas was summed up in this extract from the Country Scene column of January 7, 1984:

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Novel book offers solace for persistent pain sufferers

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Dr Monty Lyman

Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

If you are one of the thousands of people who suffer from persistent pain, listen up.  A new book by a junior doctor in the UK promises to offer solace. “Everything we think we know about pain is wrong. By ‘we’, I mean us as a society; I mean most people in and outside the medical establishment. We misunderstand the nature of pain and this misunderstanding is ruining the lives of millions.”

In his second book, The Painful Truth, Dr Monty Lyman, 28, reveals that he has been cured of longstanding and occasionally severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) through hypnotherapy.

“Hypnosis was something I never heard mentioned at medical school and something I previously sneered at, but my own pain relief has been near miraculous.”

Imagining “his bowels changing from rocky rapids to the languid Oxfordshire Thames” had the most powerful effect.

Working in Acute General Medicine at Oxford University Hospitals, he declares that pain is a protector – “this truth is forming the foundation of a pain revolution”. Understanding this ultimately relieves pain.

He recalls the moment when his interest in pain first began. He was playing cricket on a beach when a hook became lodged in his foot.

“But the pain I felt fluctuated wildly, despite the issue in the tissue not changing one bit. The pain began when I saw the offending object protruding from my foot, was diminished by the presence of impressed onlookers, grew worse when I was on my own, and even more so when I visualized the angles needed for the hook’s exit strategy. The seed in my mind grew into a fundamental truth: pain is clearly not a direct measure of injury. Hurt does not equal harm.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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