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Ecotourism

Fancy putting your roots down in Ireland – literally?
50 Of Ireland’s Best Ecoescapes
Cloughjordan Eco Village
The Organic Centre
Promoting Responsibility
Responsible Escapism in Ireland’s Greenbox
Eco-Luxury


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Fancy putting your roots down in Ireland – literally?

Holiday Ireland (www.holidayireland.com), the travel resource, has joined forces with Rooted in Ireland a northern Ireland initiative (www.rootedinireland.com) for a ground-breaking green initiative where the company plants an Oak Tree in an idyllic location in County Armagh as part of a forest replantation project. Initially, the scheme will plant a tree as a thank-you to international tour operators for bringing their business to Ireland, however, in the future, visitors using Holiday Ireland will also have the opportunity to put down roots in the land of their ancestors. Sites are planned for this eco-friendly scheme in the Republic of Ireland, too, and you can watch your personal tree grow from 3ft tall to green-leafed giants in the years to come. Rooted in Ireland already offers people the opportunity to buy the gift of a living tree in Ireland, so if you know someone who would like to get back to their roots, then this is the perfect environmentally friendly way to do it, and up to 10% of the purchase price goes to Marie Curie Cancer Research, too.

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50 Of Ireland’s Best Ecoescapes - New Guidebook launch June 4th 2008

24 listed are current members of the Greenbox Network.

The Northwest of Ireland clearly stands out and has achieved recognition in Ireland’s first ecotravel guide book. The all island publication is the first recognition that a growing consumer market is choosing a holiday with a difference.

The following properties in the Northwest are included in the book, The Greenbox, the Kingfisher Cycle Trail, the Leitrim Sculpture Centre, the Organic Centre and many more services and organisations are also listed in the comprehensive directory.

Greenbox welcome this publication of many of its members which is a reward for much investment in training and product development over the past number of years.

Mary Mulvey, CEO, The Greenbox commenting on the launch “There is now recognition of the fact that the products and services are in demand by tourists. We now need all the agencies in tourism, agriculture and rural development to capitalise on these achievements and deliver on what it is in strategic plans if we are serious about developing ecotourism on the island of Ireland.
The majority of funding that the Greenbox has received to date has been from cross border sources, very little core funding support for training, capital development and marketing has been received to date.”

County Cavan (2)
·       The Old Schoolhouse, Meenaslive, Co Cavan www.theoldschoolhousecavan.com
·       Trinity Island Lodge, Killenashandra, Co Cavan www.trinityisland.com

County Donegal ( 3 )
·      The Breesy Centre, Cashelard , Ballyshannon, Co Donegal www.breesycentre.com
·      Ard Na Breatha, Donegal Town, Co Donegal www.ardnabreatha.com
·      Creevy Coop-Creevy, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal www.creevyexperience.com

Co Fermanagh (8)
· Ireland’s Eco Tours, Bellek Co Fermanagh www.irelandecotours.com
· Blaney Spa & Yoga Centre www.blaneyspaandyogacentre.com
· The Share Centre www.sharevillage.org
· Belle Isle Estate www.belleisle-estate.org
· Corralea Activity Centre www.activityireland.com

Co Leitrim (4)
· Ard Nahoo, Dromahair, Co Leitrim www.ardnahoo.com
· Tawnlusty Lodge,Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim www.tawnylustlodge.com
· The Old Rectory, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim www.theoldrectoryireland.com
· Lough Allen Adventure Centre, Ballinaglearagh, Co Leitrim www.loughallenadventure.com

Co Sligo (4)
· The Benwiskin Centre, Ballintrillick, Co Sligo www.benwiskincentre.com
· Voya Seaweed Baths, Strandhill, Co Sligo www.voya.ie
· The Gyreum EcoLodge, Riverstown, Co Sligo www.gyreum.com
· Coopershill House, Co Sligo www.coopershill.com
(Member of Ireland’s Blue Book and Responsible Tourism Skillnet, promoted by Greenbox)

The Green Box is Ireland’s first eco-tourism destination and is based on the principles of eco-tourism, which include the following:

• Conservation of natural and cultural heritage
• Includes local and indigenous communities in its planning and development
• Interprets the natural and cultural heritage of the destination to visitors
• Is best suited to independent travellers, and organised tours for small groups
• Its main emphasis is on sustainability

The project is currently implementing an operational work programme across 6 key areas:

1. Training and certification
2. Development of eco-tourism standards
3. Capital Development Programme
4. Marketing (including product / package development) and communications
5. Networking of product providers – Network development and support
6. Advocacy for Green/ Environmental / Eco-Tourism issues

All elements are inextricably linked to create a concept that can be sustainable, market driven and marketed as a real value Tourism product.

The awarding of Ireland’s First EU Flower –14 properties in 2006. 10 further properties awaiting notification of award in June 2008. www.ecolabel-tourism.eu

Ireland’s First Ecotourism Label has now set the standard for ecotourism in Ireland and is independently assessed by the EPA, NSAI, Failte Ireland, DARD and NITB.
See our Fact sheet on our website www.greenbox.ie plus Greenbox Certified Breaks on our home page. http://www.greenbox.ie/ecobreaks.php

Responsible Tourism Skillnets (Greenbox is the promoter) www.responsibletourism.ie This will provide training and networking support to enterprises interested in developing their business in a more environmentally friendly way, with a particular focus on ecotourism.
·  First up for Responsible Tourism Skillnet will be training in the following key areas: the EU Flower, an independent audited environmental accommodation standard; the single certificate in Ecotourism and the Greenbox’s own ecotourism label for packages.
·  Embargo until june 4th 5pm 2008

–further Details Mary Mulvey-CEO
00353 87 -6841531 mary@greenbox.ie

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Cloughjordan Eco Village

As a sign of the times, an innovative project is just breaking ground this summer in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary. Known as The Village this sustainable community has been in the works for several years now but at long last things are set in place to break ground and begin construction. Based on a 67 acre farm in Cloughjordan, The Village, ran by Sustainable Projects Ireland, is a housing development with a difference. Its main goal is to create a living environment that is committed to ecological, social and economic sustainability.

The Village will contain 132 sites divided into various zones including private houses and community infrastructure, organic agriculture and horticulture and areas that promote wildlife and biodiversity. It will include shops, playgrounds and communal facilities. The people that choose to live in this specialized development adhere to common goals and practices. They’ll grow a lot of their own food within the community, use local materials to build their homes whenever possible and foster ecological business ideas and cultural expression along with sharing common resources.

Members don’t actually buy homes. Sustainable Projects Ireland sells members freehold site with planning permission and services. Members can self-build with approved developers. Members also have to volunteer for the community.

To find out more about The Village – log onto www.thevillage.ie or contact them at Sustainable Projects Ireland Ltd., Main Street, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary PH: 353 (0) 50-542833.

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The Organic Centre

In today’s changing world, many people are making big attempts to be more self-sustainable but often this means they have to learn skills that their ancestors know first hand. The Organic Centre in Rossinver, County Leitrim offers a plethora of classes for those eager to take back control. On July 20th the centre will be hosting a garden party. They’ll be workshops on composting, growing herbs, dealing with blight etc. A demonstration of working horses is a favourite to watch and the Grass Roof Café will be offering up vegetarians dishes. The mantra of The Organic Centre runs along the lines of grow your own, make a difference, save money and have fun! This all stems from the fact that the increasing price of oil is leading to the increased costs of food – instead of it being a luxury to grow your own food it may very well become a necessity.

Throughout the end of this year, the centre offers many interesting courses that will help people become self-sustainable. From July 21-25 there’s a course called learn to Live the Good Life. Come September courses include Mushroom Hunting and Wood Energy: the smart way to heat your home. There are also fun courses like a Felt Making weekend or Wine Making held in October.

Set up in 1995, The Organic Centre is a non-profit organization which provides the public with education, training and information about organic gardening and sustainable living. They are based in County Leitrim but have outreach centres both in County Wicklow and in County Clare. For more information log onto www.theorganiccentre.ie, Ph: 353 (0) 71 9854338 or email: info@theorganiccentre.ie.

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Promoting Responsibility

For eco-friendly enthusiasts, it’s good to see a website devoted to promoting responsibility about the Irish countryside. (www.leavenotraceireland.org) The programme itself was officially launched in September 2006. “Leave No Trace Ireland promotes and inspires responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. The program strives to build awareness, appreciation and respect for Ireland’s natural and cultural heritage and is dedicated to creating a nationally recognized and accepted outdoor ethic that promotes personal responsibility.” Leave No Trace Ireland has seven basic principles it adheres to:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare.
2. Be considerate of others.
3. Respect farm animals and wildlife.
4. Travel and camp on durable ground.
5. Leave what you find.
6. Dispose of waste properly and
7. Minimize the effects of fire.

“Make it hard for others to see or hear you and leave no trace of your visit”.

The website all details the various training courses available from Awareness Sessions to Trainer Courses (16 hour course enabling people to teach Leave No Trace) and Master Educator Courses (highest level of training, week long course). You can download an application off their website or call 44 ()) 2890303938 or email: info@leavenotraceireland.org. Leave No Trace is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Responsible Escapism in Ireland’s Greenbox

Both an ecotourism project and a destination, an idea and a place, the Greenbox region in the northwest is Ireland’s first ecotourism destination. It takes in the counties of Fermanagh, Leitrim, West Cavan, North Sligo, South Donegal and Northwest Monaghan.

Discover its majestic lakes and mountains and its quiet country lanes; experience the roar of nearby crashing Atlantic waves, lively villages, local characters, music and literature—and be inspired at every turn.

The Greenbox is situated approximately 1 hour from Knock Airport, 2½ hours from Belfast and 3 hours from Dublin. Adrenaline junkies, creative types and those who just want to escape will enjoy bypassing the tourist trail to get away for a truly unique eco-experience.

Wander through this less populated, less polluted, less traversed area, and experience firsthand the pristine, the pure and the wild. Fermanagh has the highest proportion of native trees of any county in Ireland. Likewise, Leitrim has the lowest population. Benbulben in Sligo has one arctic alpine orchid—a leftover testament from the last Ice Age, found nowhere else in the world. This is Ireland's Lake District, but it's gloriously underdeveloped and that is how it shall stay.

What has four hooves but leaves almost no carbon footprint? Seeing Ireland from the back of a horse will show you the island in a whole new light.

SOAK seaweed baths in Newcastle, County Down, has its own ritual in store for you. First you get hot and steamy in a wooden steam cabinet; then you ease into a huge roll-top bath full of hot seawater (piped from the shore across the road) with a bucketful of green seaweed added. Your aches and pains disappear, your skin turns to silk, and you feel fit to face another day. This is weed heaven—but it’s legal and it’s cheap. Most definitely the best way to revive yourself after a day’s climbing in the Mourne Mountains. The seaweed is sustainably harvested on local shores, and then recycled as fertilizer on nearby farms.

The Ard Nahoo eco-retreat, quietly overlooking seasonal Lough Nahoo, has been offering a unique experience to its many astute guests for the past six years. Try yoga, relax with a massage treatment or while away the time in the ease of your eco-cabin. Pick your own herbs or apples from the orchard. The waters and the wild are in their element here, from the detox box and steam room to the wildlife pond and wildflower meadow. You can meander through nature to the Wise Woman mandala, or walk to Lough Nahoo or famous Lough Gill. Accommodation is certified to EU Flower standard.

Poised on one of the westernmost points of Ireland, overlooking Clew Bay and the Atlantic, the Clare Island yoga retreat offers a welcoming mix of yoga, homey accommodations, and home-cooked organic vegetarian meals, using its own produce where possible. The center is committed to sustainable living, using water from its private spring and energy from alternative sources, as well as offering the visitor a window on the life of this wonderful small island community. Even if you can't count your chakras, just grab a place in one of their cottages when there are no courses on. Often people find themselves hoping for storms, just so that the boat can’t leave.

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Eco-Luxury

Many luxury hotels are also subscribing to an ethic geared toward preserving the environment and are conscientious about recycling, cutting down on paper, and so on. In County Wicklow, just an hour from south Dublin, Brooklodge Hotel and Wells Spa offers four-star accommodations along with organic and wild foods in Ireland’s only certified organic restaurant, the Strawberry Tree. Wells Spa has its own five-star luxury status and offers, among many treatments, Serail mud baths, Finnish baths and a flotation room. All the water used in the spa comes from its own pure water wells. On the property, Actons Country Pub and Brewery serves organic larger and stout. The Macreddin Golf Club, designed by Paul McGinley, is set in 160 acres in the Macreddin Valley nearby and incorporates a free-flowing brook, statuesque pines and spectacular elevated areas. Rooms start at €220 per night. www.brooklodge.com

Ireland’s largest and best-loved spa, Powerscourt Springs Health Farm, is a mere 20 minutes from Dublin. Opened in 1996, it was an innovator in the spa boom that has since spread throughout Ireland. There are 18 bedrooms on the grounds, a restaurant that serves food from small local suppliers (much of it organic) and a sensory garden for relaxing and contemplation. Spa services include day programs (€150–€345) featuring the Powerscourt Pamper and Petit Pamper, Beauty Ritual and a delectable Champagne Experience. www.powerscourtsprings.ie

At Glengariff Lodge in County Cork, you’ll find the most luxurious self-catering premises set in the ancient oak woods of Glengariff. The thatched-roof lodge accommodates up to eight people and offers modern convenience and comfort, but has been restored by owner Alan Callender to be eco-friendly and sustainable. His family has owned the property for three generations. It was built as a hunting lodge for the Earls of Bantry, and in the early 19th century the idyllic woodlands surrounding the lodge were stocked with exotic birds and even a small herd of bison. Rates available on request. www.glengarriff-lodge.com

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