Greetings fellow travellers!
My name's Daniel, and I've been a volunteer since 2012. I recently purchased a hundred-year-old stone cottage in County Sligo on the west coast of Ireland. I'm now looking for enthusiastic volunteers to assist me in restoring it and developing the one acre of land into a permaculture smallholding.
The cottage (pictured) needs a great deal of work before it's habitable, so accommodation will be in a small caravan on site, or, if you're feeling adventurous, a private tent. You will need a willingness to live a simple outdoor life for the duration of your stay. There is electricity on site for phone and laptop charging, as well as mobile internet, but it's not what you'll be used to in a city. Water is gathered by hand from a natural spring, and the nearest neighbour is a kilometre away (apart from the mooing variety).
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
The cottage is situated close to Lough Gara (pictured) and a short drive from the Curlew mountains (also pictured). It's surrounded by rural countryside, wild moorland and forestry (great for walking). The ocean is an hour's drive west, but I'm an avid explorer of beaches and coastline, so there will be occasional opportunities for adventure if you're interested in tagging along (weather dependent). The local village, with a population of less than a hundred, is a fifteen minute hike down the road. You'll find a welcoming pub, a village shop and a post office, but very little else.
I have a small two-person canoe, which I love to take out exploring during down-time. If you're feeling brave, and it's a particularly hot day, then Lough Gara is great for wild swimming! I also have a bicycle, which I'd be happy to lend you if you'd like to venture out on your own. Lough Key Forest Park and the megalithic tombs on Carrowkeel mountain are about an hour's bike ride away. Ballaghaderreen is the nearest town - about a thirty minute bike ride away. There you'll find restaurants, supermarkets, and a great many quaint little shops with brightly-coloured facades that sell things you probably won't find anywhere else (or indeed have any use for).
I'm looking for helpers (one or two at a time) and can pick you up from Sligo or Roscommon, which are connected to Dublin, Galway and other major towns by bus and train. Alternatively, Knock airport is just thirty minutes drive from the cottage, so if you're flying directly to western Ireland then I can pick you up straight from the airport.
The ideal volunteer would be someone looking for a peaceful environment with a lot of time for reflection (reading, writing, drawing, etc), who loves animals, and has a personal interest in vegetable-growing and permaculture, or at least a preference for working outside and getting their hands dirty. Bonus points for an interest in house restoration, or even applicable skills, but it's not necessary. A good level of basic fitness is important, as you will be on your feet most of the day. Wellies (rubber boots) are a requirement (it gets very muddy here), as is a waterproof coat. Flip-flops are optional... :)
All the best on your adventure, and do get in touch if you're interested in visiting me.
The work will be varied, depending on the weather and your area of interest. Don't worry about a lack of expertise. Over the summer and early autumn there's plenty to do outside: weeding, strimming, landscaping, tending plants, etc. There's also restoration work on the cottage; at the moment I'm focused on replacing the roof and flagstone floor. And of course there's always basic tasks, like cooking, cleaning, washing, and walking my border collie pup. You'll have two full days off per week. Food is included, but it's basic stuff. Expect to see plenty of stars... and perhaps a few clouds (this is Ireland after all).
In time I'll develop the land further, planting hazel trees for nuts/coppicing, blueberry bushes, building poly-tunnels, keeping rabbits and bees for honey. Moderate self-sufficiency is my goal, but with an acre of land (about the size of a football pitch) I can't get too ambitious! There'll certainly be no herds of alpaca (more's the pity, I love animals).
English, French (Basic)
Small caravan (shared) and/or private tents.
I'm a published writer by trade and have some experience teaching English, so if you'd like to practise and improve your language skills whilst here then I'd be glad to help.
Oh, and if you're a vegetarian I can easily accommodate you, as I only eat fish, and then only from sustainable sources, so it's a rare treat. If you're a strict vegan then you may have to do a little extra cooking yourself, and either make do with a simpler diet, or buy some extras (like almond milk, vegan cheese, etc, which are very expensive here), but I promise you'll still eat. :)
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week