The Girdle of Green 002An old castle on an island in the forest, not far from Bealtaine Cottage, and where I walked today with my daughter, Cara, whose birthday we celebrated, with a walk through this magical landscape on a glorious autumn day. 007This is Lough Key and the castle once belonged to the MacDermott clan who lived here hundreds of years ago. 003The castle is mentioned frequently in the ancient annals, being a focus for both fighting and partying.

Brian of the Carrick, Chief 1585-92, is reported to be last head of the clan to live on the island. 004 There is reference to Castle Island in the annals of Lough Ce as early as 1184.

During this time the park was called Moylurg and the Kings of Moylurg were the MacDermotts. 017The real pleasure lies in walking among the mighty Oaks that guard the Lough. 031This Oak tree was warm and welcoming…an ancient heart holding the history of the land within. 021Just resting against this tree made me feel joyous…what amazing energy and strength emanates forth from trees like this!

The mighty  Oak has had importance and great significance to the Celts, from ancient to modern times. 034This is where the ancestors worshipped and held important events in the old calendar, for the Oak Grove was considered sacred. 048Oak trees grow in almost every part of the world.

The Druids made their magic wands from only three woods…Yew, Oak and Apple. 054

As the sap begins to drop in the trees and the leaves turn colour, Ivy, that has previously been shaded out by canopy, emerges into its own, as a permanent reminder to us all that spring will return. 057The evergreen girdle of Ivy, on many trees, keeps a host of small birds and insects warm and fed over the dark days of winter. 043Similarly, the girdle of Moss, around the base of the mighty Oak, will secure the winter for many small creatures.


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  1. Spent many a happy day in Lough key when my girls were young and then brought the next generation – we hugged many a tree! I have to admit I Was not too happy with the adventure centre – felt it encroached on the natural adventure ground!

    • It’s a beautiful resource, but has been rather “taken over” by the new activity areas which cost the taxpayer six million euros and now we have to pay to park there. I don’t pay! I won’t pay! The Forest park belongs to the people…end of!

  2. Hi Colette. I’m a new registrant to your blog. I’ve been looking at your Youtube videos for a while and would like to visit you sometime en route to Donegal from Dublin. Can you tell me where are you exactly, please? I retire next year and would like to develop a permaculture food forest on 2/3rds of an acre in Donegal and your place seems like a good role model for me… except for your Buddhas!! (my son is a Franciscan priest! ’nuff said.) Still I’d love to see and hear about what you’ve done to support yourself and plant trees and fruit and veggies. i’ve been watching a lot of stuff by Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton, both from Australia, and both long-time, well recognised, permaculture experts. There seems to be remarkably little by way of permaculture examples in Ireland, apart from yourself and some folks way down south in Sneem, Co Kerry. But I can detour to you on my way to Donegal, whereas Sneem is a whole trip on its own. What kind of notice do you need? and can you give me directions please? Sincerely, Robert Jordanaka robertcurris@

    Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2013 18:56:53 +0000 To:

    • Good morning Robert,
      Developing a food forest sounds like a wonderful idea. However, I have posted new details regarding visits to Bealtaine Cottage, if you’d like to have a look at the page marked “visits” at the top of the website.

  3. Best wishes to your daughter, what a wonderful way to celebrate. You can feel the magic of the trees, giving shelter to you and the animals of the forest. The castle is wonderful. Great pictures and a great day.
    Blessings to you

  4. Happy Birthday to Cara! Born into such a beautiful month and I can’t imagine a more romantic place to visit on your special day.
    Colette you look wonderful in your autumn coat, I think that magnificent oak must have been very glad of your company, I am sure your love was felt.
    Many oak trees have an astoundingly warm energy, there is indeed something very special about them. I am glad you mentioned that the apple has importance too, I have a particular affinity with apple trees.
    Thank you for this lovely post, you are a very magical person.

    Warmest blessings to you and yours and many happy returns to the Birthday Girl xx

    • I admired the coat for a long time in a shop window, but could not afford it. Within months, I walk into a charity shop and there’s the coat with a 7 euros ticket on it…magic!
      We had a lovely day, thanks, Cicely! it is pouring with rain as I type!
      Colette X

Your comments are welcome!