Sammy-Bear CatThis is about one woman deciding to do something very dramatic and revolutionary in Ireland…taking three acres of wet, rushy, north-facing land and planting trees like her life depended on it…it does!


www.bealtainecottage.com 011Bealtaine Cottage smallholding is in the west of Ireland.
In May 2004, this was a derelict cottage on a north facing slope of three acres of wet, rushy land.

My aim, living alone and without any workforce or helpers, was to create a self-sustaining smallholding designed and constructed on Permaculture Principles.
dsc04531This has included planting over 1,000 deciduous trees including two large orchards, as well as many perennials and bushes.
This all supports the developing biodiversity here at Bealtaine Cottage.

Ark for NatureBealtaine Cottage has evolved into an Ark for Nature, with continuous planting and expanding biodiversity.
dsc04691Transforming the cottage interior has meant, wherever possible, the use of re-cycled materials.
There is the recent installation of a compost toilet, put in place to ensure waste products are managed on site.

Permaculture Tunnel at bealtaine CottageGrowing organically produced food includes a continual, all-year round supply from a purpose-built polytunnel.

Potager beds of abundancePotager beds are now in their second year and producing abundantly!
The land has transformed from monoculture to Eden.

There is a continual, substantial food surplus and this is channelled into the making of wines, jams, pickles, chutney, dried foods and plants.

This approach to living on the Earth, forms the basis of an integrated approach to living with the planet, rather than on the planet.

My Spinning WheelSpinning is one of my favourite crafts, spinning wool and using the surplus ‘shoddy,’ as a fertiliser and mulch for the land.

dsc05250Crafting is an ongoing learning curve, necessity being the mother of invention, as proved here with the recycled floor.
Cold composting ensures a continual development of seed production!

dsc05043Bealtaine Cottage and smallholding continues to be developed in keeping with Permaculture ethics.
The addition of a wood burning stove in the sitting room and a multi fuel stove in the kitchen, has given free hot water, cooking, baking and central heating from a fire fuelled mostly with wood harvested here.

Bealtaine Cottage driveway


Bealtaine Cottage this morning


Now have a peek at the “before” pics…

Before Goddess Permaculture and the Transformation!

Over the past 14 years of the Bealtaine Project, Colette has sought to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world, photographing and writing several thousand blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site, as well as almost 500 videos on YouTube…all free from advertising!

In 2017 Colette O’Neill became a published author and was granted ‘Artist’ status by the Irish government.

Link to Patreon : https://www.patreon.com/BealtaineCottage


  1. What a beautiful home and smallholding you have created. I am completely in awe of your creativity and dedication. It is totally stunning and a real feast for the eye. Continued success to you.
    Bright Blessings

  2. What a paradise on earth you’ve built! Lovely blog it’s like a dream come true… When I speak the way you live, even though we are placed in a noisy polluted town people never fail to remind me that we are in the “real” world not one made of butterflies,birds & poetry but you have proved them wrong!
    You give hope for a better world you are a model for transforming dream into reality & I thank you genuinely for that… finding your blog made my day, my week & much more 🙂

  3. Hello! Somehow I stumbled upon your Youtube channel and blog while searching for information on cottage gardens. I’m absolutely in love with your garden and lifestyle. since we moved to Japan three years ago and I have now a small piece of earth to plant-I’ve been puttering about. Since I’ve “found you” I am passionately inspired to do the best I can to change this little plot into a real garden-a permaculture/cottage garden. Thank you for posting and writing. I’m sure you have inspired many people all over the world. xxoo

  4. Excellent blog. We moved over from the UK in 2006 and built a house here in Ardagh Co. Longford. We moved in on the 30th of April 2008. We have just over two acres here and wanted land in order to be able to grow our own food, be more self reliant and live a life closer to nature. We keep hens and ducks and pigs and are developing a forest garden. We have planted quite a lot of trees although I haven’t counted them! We have a large veg plot (40 12’x4′ beds) and at this stage eat mostly from our own harvests. It is great to see a fellow permaculture warrior doing so well. Interestingly we came very close to buying an old cottage on an acre near Frenchpark but we decided for various reasons not to buy in the end. We also have a dog named Jack. He was rescued in utero as it were. We rescued a lovely dog we found wandering in a car park and found she was pregnant. She only had Jack and then died shortly after. No cats though!!

    • Blessings X I don’t think I do link exchanges, though am not too sure what they are…never been asked. If you want to leave a link in the comments feel free though XXX Colette

  5. Thank you for putting this out in the world! It is so heartwarming and uplifting! Just had the chance to visit my first seminar regarding permaculture after reading about it a bit – mainly by Sepp Holzer. Your first you tube experiment also has been very appreciated. Thank you for your encouragement! Blessings! Sabrina

    • Good Morning, Sabrina, from a very misty west Ireland landscape! Permaculture is the way forward, walking hand in hand with Mother Nature. I need to get more videos made for my YouTube channel…it’s just so busy here…lots of visitors!

  6. Positively beautiful, visual, informative, inspiring, encouraging homepage here!

    I imagine it’s a bit of work, but then so is 40-60 hours/week in a cubicle, on a floor, or anything else really! I’m Irish-American, and the West of Ireland has a reputation more like your “before” shots than your “after” ones. “*Stark* beauty” is OK too, I guess, but wow, as they say, “Look what you’ve done with the place!” 🙂

  7. This blog has been helping me get through the slow days at the office, I work in Film and TV but now have plans to leave the industry and live a more simple life surrounded by nature and the smells of a freshly baked loaf! I’ve now started a permaculture course and have a variety of vegetables growing.. Its a small garden but its a start! In 3 years myself and my partner hope to buy a small plot in Wales along with a few acres to develop. I visit this blog daily as a source of inspiration, I really do hope to follow in your footsteps and Id like to thank you for this.

    • It’s always inspiring to hear from visitors who are embarking on the great change…planning to leave the corporate club and embrace their own sacred journey…that journey is all too short!
      Live life and make it your own!
      Blessings to you both
      Colette X

  8. I have never visited Bealtaine Cottage but hope to one day. It looks absolutely beautiful! So diverse, colorful, creative, abundant with all the goodness life has to offer. I could keep going on but in short thank you for the inspiration! Best wishes in the future

      • I am working my way through all of your blog Colette and it always inspires and motivates me. Could I ask you, did you start by putting up your polytunnel or planting your fruit and veg. first?
        I’ve got a decent size garden and 3 veg. beds and some fruit trees (that have yet to produce, even after 4 years) but I have alot of grass and overgrown area.
        I can’t help feeling that it’s wasted not to do something with it but I feel a bit overwhelmed about what to do first.
        The grass area tends to hold the water and is quite boggy even after a bit of rain so I’m not sure what to do about that.
        Any suggestions would be gratefully received.
        Best wishes to you.
        Fruit trees need bees and pollinators. Bees and pollinators need maximum biodiversity. My advice is plant, plant, plant. Boggy areas can support willow and birch and many trees and plants beloved of bees and pollinators. Walk your land. Make a path along the more raised and drier bits. Plant on either side. Now is a great time to insert cuttings straight into the ground. It is easier to cut things down rather than wait for them to grow, so get planting and be as intuitive with your land as possible! Put the tunnel up as and when you can afford to. Go out and make a deep connection to your land…walk it, engage and befriend it. Let the earth speak to your deepest intuition and emotion. The rest will follow.

        • Thanks for taking the time to reply Colette.
          The tunnel (a small one by tunnel standards) is up and I’ve been using it to store wood but I am determined to sort that out today.
          I’m going to use some of it to extend my raised beds.
          I love being out and always have the company of my chickens looking for a worm to be turned up for them.
          I have spent many an hour reading your blog and it always has such a calming effect.
          Many thanks for sharing your learning and your journey.
          I hope many more blessings come your way.

          You are one of many making the re-connection with Mother Earth…what a wonderful time we live in. Thanks for your good wishes.
          Bless you,

  9. Hi Colette,
    Your blog is as inspirational as your garden and your lovely self 🙂 I’ve been fortunate enough to visit your place a couple of times already. Would love to visit again soon to reinfect myself with your enthusiasm!!! Well done…

    • Hi there Lorna…I remember you! You are welcome to visit…just call first to make sure I’m around! 0863345639. It’s grown a lot since you were here last!
      Best Wishes, Colette.

  10. I found your site last week and was instantly entranced – I dipped into it here and then and then decided that I had to return each day and work my way through all your postings and follow Bealtaine through the seasons. Stunningly photographed and passionately written, it has been an absolute inspiration to see how you have single handedly created a place of great magic and from such an unpromising beginning too. I have been a passionate organic gardener all my life, and some years back started to take an interest in permaculture, read Gaia’s Garden and was surprised and gratified to find that we were some way along the road already, so much is common sense. Bealtaine shows me how much more is possible. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and your wisdom.

    • What a wonderful compliment and thank you so much, Sue. I have just waved goodbye to yet more visitors to Bealtaine and as you have probably read here, keep open gardens to all who want to learn about permaculture, want to see or just are growing enthusiasts.
      I hope you continue to explore all aspects of permaculture and find inspiration for your journey!
      Without any doubt, Permaculture changes lives and heals the Earth…loving it all!

  11. Thanks a million I will contact you by email soon I am in Geevagh to not too far from you looking forward to meeting you

  12. just wanted to find out if you have open days for visiting, and where exactly you are. I have so much to learn although been in Irland 10 years am not from this climate. I have poly now this is my first year growing and really would love to learn more

    • Thanks Eric…and it continues to evolve, which is how it all is…and what makes life so very interesting, don’t you think? The past 7 years here at Bealtaine has changed my whole life! Instead of accepting, I now question everything and find out new stuff all the time! Permaculture has defined how I see the world!

      Blessings to you and yours, Eric…Colette

  13. This is close to how I grow up. In a small cottage at the back of a farm in Essex, not west of Ireland, but it was still very close to this style of life. The owner was brilliant at running a truly natural mixed farm. That was the why it was in the 1950s, but once it was sold, my parents moved and I lost all interest in Old Barn. The next farm, Spring Field, was identical, a bit larger. The same thing happened there too, so they moved again and by this time. 1970S, I had lost all hope for farming or growing real food. Then in 1991, I attended a talk, the subject was new. It sounded wonderful, it opened my mind. This was my first introduction to Permaculture. From that day on, I have gone from strength to strength. Slowly, slowly some times, getting side tracked on the way, but never losing sight of my aims or long term goals. I studded conservation, woodland management, organic growing and many more course on Permaculture. I am now back on track working on a project close to my own heart. Keep up the good work.

    Good to meet you, Stewart and welcome to the world of permaculture that you are obviously delighting in as well! There is a little bit of Essex here at Bealtaine in the form of the new porch I built onto the cottage…it’s constructed using all wood with a shiplap exterior, as in all the lovely old Essex barns!
    Regards, Colette

  14. Hi, I love your blog. My husband is studying horticulture in the Botanic Gardens and is a huge advocate of permaculture. You are such an inspiration for us. We hope to achieve what you have one day. Thanks for a great blog!

  15. Thank you for posting this blog! It is very inspirational! I’ve just started getting into Permaculture and it is nice to see that it can be a reality to use and ‘live’ all the principles. 🙂

    • It’s good to hear from you, Shyra! Permaculture has brought freedom and abundance here at Bealtaine and it’s good to share! Let me and the world know how it changes your life too…as it will!
      Blessings and Abundance
      Colette x

  16. Hi all

    Just introducing ourselves – Richard and Averil – at present in Gloucestershire, and looking in to moving back to Ireland where we both have our roots. We made contact with Colette last week, and hope to visit very soon…

    “I love to sit still in one place and observe how nature takes care of things when we work withhert and give her the chance. This inspires my painting” (Averil)

    “Permaculture just makes so much sense to me, I am beginning to see the simplicity of it, and how less is more…” (Richard)

  17. Hi Colette! just discovered your website and what a lovely few hours I have spent looking at the lovely photos. What an achievement, and so lovely that you made the photos and information available to everyone.

    I’m from Ireland but living in Sweden at the moment, where the growing season is short but soooo intense! We only just pruned our 2 apple trees today (Spring starts ‘officially’ 25 March where we live) and there is still heavy snow on the ground, but the sun is warm and those swelling apple buds fill us with such joy and excitement of the fruit ahead. Still waiting for the daffodils!

    We come to Ireland often and would love to visit sometime, but imagine your days mighty busy 🙂 Wishing you bounteous spring and summer flowering delights, All the best – Helen and Stephen.

    • Helen and Stephen…it’s good to meet you! Sweden sounds a bit like Canada in terms of the growing season, so I imagine you have much work and lots to look forward to!
      Anytime you are in Ireland and are in this area, you are most welcome to visit. My number is on this site and email too…somewhere…but you can always message me here and I will respond, of course!
      My aim is to inspire and encourage people to be at one with Gaia in growing and creating gardens. Simplicity, re-cycling and abundance form the core of this simple philosophy. If Bealtaine can help visitors to see that and adopt a similar approach then I am happy to take the time and share Bealtaine with them!

  18. Myself and my wife are moving back to Ireland in the next year with the intention to buy land and start our own permaculture. At the moment were looking at Clare and Leitrim sites and doing research.

    Thanks for you blog, we as many find it inspirational. Would you have any recommendations on the type of soil table to go for and do you have contact with any permaculture initiatives/groups in those counties?

    Keep it up and maybe we’ll come visit next year.)
    All the best,


    • Hi Daragh, I’m happy you have found the blog inspirational and of use! If I had the money I would have bought good land…my personal poverty propelled me towards the cheapest smallholding on the market. I was told there was nothing to be grown here without copious amounts of chemicals, but…the rest is permaculture history!
      I have no active contact with groups in Ireland, but many online! I’m too busy…and in the process of writing a book about permaculture.
      You are welcome to come see all here…and if I can be of any help then I will try to make some time for you both!

  19. Hi!
    I have really enjoyed looking at your blogs. I am trying to start with growing my own veg and making preserves. I was just wondering what the jars on this page are full of? They look beautiful! Hope you know which picture I mean…. Thanks again for the inspiration.

    • Hi Kristi, Great to hear from you and more power to you growing your own veg! The jars are filled with Apple Jelly, which is delicious and wholesome and has so many uses, but is fantastic with cheese and bread!
      I’ll be making lots more this year and photoblogging for you to follow, so plant an apple tree and get ahead!
      Colette x

  20. Hello, your blog is a delight and a model for me and
    many others. Will you allow me to write an article
    on my blog about Bealtaine Cottage? I would
    very pleased to make known to my friends
    and visitors. Congratulations for your masterpiece

  21. My 6 yr old daughter and I have just relaxed and enjoyed your gorgeous garden on a very humid 36 degree summer evening in Canberra, Australia. Our new (sort-of) permaculture garden looks a little different to yours with its huge gum trees, 700m block, limited rain and limited sun because of the trees. However our chooks are happy and so are we. Thanks for sharing your garden and your joy in living in it.

    • I wish you much happiness in you permaculture garden and home.
      It is a fact that together we can heal the earth. Each garden, smallholding, farm or even windowbox that embraces the ethics of permaculture begins healing the environment around that area. Keep up the good work!
      Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.


  22. This is just what I am aiming for Have been on my property nearly 3 years and finding it heavy going, as I am not getting any younger, but seeing your pics give me inspiration.I am in Geevagh
    co sligo very clay soil,heavy going.

  23. I look at that arch in the lower picture and it’s so inspirational. I can only imagine walking through it into a self-sufficient world where ‘big business’ and ‘consumerism’ holds no sway – Fair play to you!

Your comments are welcome!