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Family Friendly Destination of the Year 2017

Feb 12, 2017

The Natural Origins of Valentine's Day

Imbolc – what a wonderful time of year! Spring is upon us again, the days are getting longer, love is in the air and it is mating season for many species. Keep your eye out for tadpoles wriggling in the streams, look for fairy cushions hanging in the willow trees and there is a good chance the lambs tails are already hanging in abundance on the hazel trees. How wonderful to see signs of life in the natural world beginning to show after the dark Winter.

Natural Origins as a Fertility Festival

With Valentine's Day approaching, we look into the natural origins of the ancient festival of love. Long before the era of St. Valentine, it was February 15th that was celebrated by many cultures as a fertility festival.

In Rome, the festival was called 'Lupercalia' and was dedicated to the ancient horned Greek God Pan. Pan was the God of the woods, wilderness, wild places, animals, fertility, nature and music. Tradition had it that on the day of Lupercalia, the young singletons of the town would put their names into a pot. When the name was called out by a member of the opposite sex their fate was sealed and they were to become sweethearts for that year. This and similar traditions were practiced all over the globe. In Ireland, we celebrated our own horned God 'Cernunnos' who was also the deity of the forests, wilderness, animals and fertility.

Modern Valentine's Day

Born in 178AD, Bishop Valentine of Rome was a good a pious man, and was even believed to have restored a young girl's sight. At this time, the Emperor of Rome had outlawed marriage in order to keep his soldiers and armies free from worry and family responsibilities. However St. Valentine secretly married young Christian couples who were in love. For this he was imprisoned and later executed on February 14th 269AD. Many years after his death, he was martyred on that day and his saints' day soon took over the old pagan festival. Fortunately for us, some of the traditions have lingered on such as giving your heart to someone for Valentine's Day.

I will always see Valentine's in a new light now, not just for celebration of sweet love but also for love of natural places, the woodlands and the wild animals. Keeping with that thought, this poem "Lord of the Wild Wood" by an unknown author sprung to mind.

"A silence lies in the Wild Wood, the light of the stars grows dim.
The wind has died in the branches, but a shadow moves. It is Him!
He is the stag in the moonlight, the stallion alone on the hill.
The bull that paws at the tussocks and the salmon that leaps in the rill.
Each is a part of the Hunter, The Godhead that lives in the Dark,
Lord of the Wild and the Hidden, at midnight, the small breathing spark.
His is the glory of sunrise, the greenness that rises in spring.
His is the force of the tempest, the strength in the wild eagle's wing.
His is the voice of the pan-pipes, the power that governs the land.
But She is his wife and his Mother and he dwells in the palm of her hand."

Make Your Own Natural Heart

At Down to Earth Forest School we use our natural environment to be creative as nature provides us with the most beautiful material to work with. For this project, we have used some fresh green hazel sticks and berries to make very simple, natural hearts.

Simply tie the thin end of two hazel sticks. Then gently bend them around to fashion a heart shape. Tie them all to the junction in the middle. Use berries, flowers or ivy to decorate as above.

Down to Earth Classes

Little twigs Parent and Toddler Group for parents and children age 1 to 5 recommences on Wednesday the 1st March at 10.30- 12 in Esker wood in Brigit's Garden. 6 week terms for €60 (siblings prices available).

Forest After School Group for children aged 5-12 recommences on Wednesday 1st March at 3.45- 5.45 in Esker wood in Brigit's Garden. A 6 week terms costs €90 (siblings prices available).

Stick Sunday is monthly family fun day with fire, crafts, stories and plenty of forest fun. Dates to be announced soon. Please see our facebook page or website for more details.

Down to Earth also host forest themed birthday parties, events and functions.

Carol Barrett and Kerry Walker,
Down to Earth Forest School Leaders




The following food will be provided during the festival:

At the Garden Café 
Saturday 9.00a.m to 8.30pm
Sunday 8.30 - 5.00pm
Drinks available up to 10.30pm Saturday night

At our Garden BBQ
Saturday 12.00- 8.00pm
Sunday 12.00-4.00pm

At the Food Stalls
Saturday 12.00 - 8.00pm
Sunday 12.00 - 4.00pm

Garden Café:

The Garden Café will serve

Breakfast includes a buffet bar with cereals, bacon/sausage rolls, croissants etc.

Lunch & Dinner is a delicious range of pastas, salads, hot dinners, kids rolls and drinks include a selection of herbal teas, coffee, wine, craft beers and minerals.

There will also be a range of homemade treats in store for your delight

The Garden BBQ will be sizzling sausages and burgers with all the trimmings and the Food Stalls will be serving a variety of foods from Asian street food, baked potatoe, pizza, chips to delicious artisan ice-cream.


Brigit's Garden is 20km from Galway city just off the Wild Atlantic Way.
From Galway city take the N59 in the direction of Clifden. Go through Moycullen and after about 8km you reach the small village of Roscahill. You will see a brown heirtage sign with Brigit's Garden name on it pointing to the right. Take this right and the entrance to Brigit's Garden is on the left approximately 2km from this turn (after the community centre and church on the left hand-side).

Please pay attention to the signs for the overnight carpark and day carpark during this event.

Accommodation Close by

(for Friday and/or Saturday night)

In Roscahill Co. Galway- 5 mins drive from Brigit's Garden

Rockfield House B&B, 091 555586

In Oughterard, Co. Galway: 10 mins drive from Brigit's Garden
Camillaun Lodge, 091 552678
The Boat Inn, 091 552196 (family rooms from €78)
Ross Lake House Hotel,, 091 550109
The Connemara Lake Hotel 091 866016
Oughterard Hostel 091 552388

Overnight for Campervans, contact Dessie Walsh in Oughterard, €10 per van, 085 2899391

Hostel Accommodation: Oughterard Hostel 091 552388

Camp Sites

Salthill Caravan Park ; Salthill, Galway City, County Galway
Tel: 091 523972; 086 8175551 Email:
Spiddal Mobile Home Park Tel: 091 553372, Mob: 087 7607698 Email:

There is plenty of other accommodation listed at Follow links for accommodation and search for Moycullen or Oughterard

More details to follow!! Please spread the word, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!! Book your tickets early to avoid disappointment!

Slán go fóill :)*

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