Suaimhneas sna Coillte - Festival of Wellbeing in the Woodlands

Suaimhneas sna Coillte - Festival of Wellbeing in the Woodlands

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Glengarra wood





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Nestled at the foot of the Galtee Mountains, the architectural prowess of Glengarra Mountain Lodge anchors our weekend in the forest.

About this event

Suaimhneas sna Coillte


Suaimhneas sna Coillte is a unique weekend-long series of events set in the idyllic surroundings of Glengarra Mountain Lodge in Glengarra wood. This festival of peace and harmony amongst those natural habitats that lie on our doorstep encourages us to appreciate the presence of the lodge in the forest by bridging the use of the forest and Mountain Lodge together and engage the local and regional community through a quartet of combined elements; nature, heritage, creative practice and wellbeing.

Part of the plan for the rejuvenation of Glengarra Mountain Lodge, located in Glengarra Wood, as a community project, is to create a resource for events and a retreat for artists and writers complimenting the well-being of community citizens and local creatives.

Now with significant development in the restoration of the Mountain Lodge achieved, this wellness festival is an opportunity to showcase the potential of the Mountain Lodge not only for those in our community but for the wider artistic, nature enthused and physical well-being communities and groups.

Suaimhneas sna Coillte - Festival of Wellbeing in the Woodlands image

Event Details

Expanding on the success of the inaugural festival in 2021, the 2022 festival will run over three days.

Oíche Samhraidh [Summer Night] | Friday 19th August [Dusk: 8pm-10.15pm | Moonlight: 9.30pm-11.45pm]

A new initiative for the 2022 festival which aims to expand the creative engagement of the community with a newly curated multi-media arts installation. This event hosts a 4km guided sensory walk at dusk (a second walk at Moonlight) travelling via three audio-visual installations in the forest.

Síocháin agus Compord [Serenity and Comfort] | Saturday 20th August | 10am-5pm

Full day wellness retreat at Glengarra Mountain Lodge.

Suaimhneas on Sunday [Wellness on Sunday] | Sunday 21st August | 9am-5.30pm

Sunday hosts an array of local creatives and well-being practitioners in the forest and at Mountain Lodge completing the weekend in celebration of well-being amongst the natural splendour and the architectural grandeur of Mountain Lodge.

Several free and ticketed events are scheduled throughout the weekend and booking is essential.

For full details of Suaimhneas sna Coillte please visit the event page @glengarralodge.

Suaimhneas sna Coillte - Festival of Wellbeing in the Woodlands image

Glengarra Mountain Lodge - the story so far...

Mountain Lodge was built as a Shooting Lodge for the First Viscount Lismore, Cornelius O’ Callaghan on what was part of the Shanbally Estate in the townland of Cullenagh. Samuel Lewis wrote in 1837 that “ his Lordship has lately erected a lodge, a structure of much beauty in the glen of the Galtees”. Griffiths Valuation(1850s) note a house valued at £7 and mountain land.

Shanbally Castle 1810 and later Mountain Lodge were designed by John Nash, one of the most important Regency Architects of the early 19th century. John Nash designer of London’s Regent Street and Regent’s Park, is credited with the work which saw Buckingham House become Buckingham Palace and was the architect of the fairylike rustic Swiss Cottage or Cottage Orné in nearby Cahir. Keeping these in mind you realise the architectural and historical value of Mountain Lodge, being one of the few remaining Nash designed buildings in Ireland. A place of such consequence to ensure a visit in April 1904 of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra who arrived in cavalcade across the bridge which remains in situ to this day.

Mountain Lodge is a Protected Structure and included in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage where it is given architectural, artistic and social categories of special interest. Walking through the original front door, one can observe the South facing Round Bay, the wrought iron of the valance to the overhanging eaves and the historic lime render. We see the Neo-Gothic small pane timber sash windows, the fine glazing bars with the beautiful trefoil tracery feature to the top sashes. Entering the Lodge, one is astounded that so much of the original building has survived-the panelled doors, fireplaces, the decorative cornices and plasterwork and ceilings, the window shutters and the timber floors. The wall mounted gas fittings, which for a long time was the only source of lighting, remain to this day.

But the piéce de résistance, the most remarkable feature, is of the architecturally proportioned Round Drawing Room. When in time you can encounter this again in person, think of the workmanship and the time involved in the crafting of the curved doors in perfect operation to this day. This is really the jewel in the crown of Mountain Lodge.

The fate of the Lodge was much more fortunate than that of its parent buildings and origins. Shanbally Castle of which Mountain Lodge was the hunting recreation, would meet its demise in 1960. The Castle, Lodge and land was left by the last Viscount Lismore to his cousins Lady Beatrice Pole- Carew and Lady Constance Butler, daughters of the Marquis of Ormond. ( Their lives are the makings of another story.) The Castle was sold in 1954 and demolished by the Land Commission in 1960.- “Then in a wicked act of destruction the battlements were hacked down”. It’s fine cut stone ,salvaged and put to practical use and what remained was blown up with 1,400 sticks of gelignite.

This should be reason enough why Mountain Lodge should be conserved , restored and preserved for future generations.

Mountain Lodge was leased to An Óige in the 1930’s, converted into a Youth Hostel and which opened in 1939, and was maintained as a hostel until 2012. Following the vacating of Mountain Lodge by An Óige in 2012, the Lodge was vandalised twice, resulting in the destruction of the roof, and windows left severely damaged. Seeing that the building was then in a very vulnerable condition, in 2015 a decision was made by Burncourt Community Council to research the work involved in the restoration of Mountain Lodge to its former glory and as an amenity for the future.

This resulted in Burncourt Community Council leasing the building with the objective of both the conservation & restoration of this iconic structure. A Conservation Report was commissioned to guide the Restoration process.

To date the project has achieved the following:

• Replacement of the Roof and Repair of the thirteen Neo- Gothic windows and new chutes and soffit

• A Survey of the existing waste-water system carried out and subsequently replaced with a bio-cycle system which has been realigned with the existing sewage network.

• The building has been rewired, a heating system installed and treatment of a wet rot presence in some rooms has been undertaken.

• In the interim waiting period before the ESB connection, now installed, a generator was purchased and installed, allowing for projects such as the virtual festival last Autumn.

• Additional, some external groundwork has been completed, namely the levelling off and gravelling of the area immediately outside the building.

Work for the future will involve:

• The Installation of Security, the Re-design and replacement of toilet and shower block

• The kitchen needs upgrading and the installation of industrial units.

• Further groundworks needs to be carried out and fencing installed to the surrounds

• In the very final stages, efforts will need to be made to touch-up the aesthetics of the building, bringing the project to completion and the Mountain Lodge restored to its original glory.

All of these efforts will entail a lot of work and a significant cost.

Though substantial grant aid has been received to date, shortfalls not covered by Grant aid have to be raised by the Mountain Lodge Committee and by the securing of loans with subsequent interest repayments to continue financing the project. On completion we envisage that the building will be re-opened as a niche artist retreat space and event venue to include small accommodation. Additionally, it is hoped that a seasonal café will serve visitors in the summer months. Alternative nominated uses of the building include a training base for Mountain Rescue, and a facilities unit for Hillwalkers.

Suaimhneas sna Coillte - Festival of Wellbeing in the Woodlands image
Suaimhneas sna Coillte - Festival of Wellbeing in the Woodlands image

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