24th January, 2015 - local food, biodiversity, native woodlands, ogham

Almanac ...

Rooster Call :

Was mainly cloudy day at Carrowcrory that did feel nippy despite highter day temperature. Was a sort of doodling writing day..

Today in 'Almost Daily Blog' ...
  • Food and Drink are keeping Ireland's Big Houses alive
  • Reflections of the Pine Marten who stayed at Carrowcrory Cottage
  • Always a good idea to bring Birch trees to your garden
  • How to pronounce the Ogham alhabet

Weather :

Though forecasted as warming it did not feel like it at Carrowcrory, reaching 7C, 45F. A milder Sunday, tomorrow, still in the forecast and is looks like being quite showery in the morning and late afternoon, but a warmish sunny lunchtime seems possible..
The current Brighid's Day and Imbolc forecast is cooling further and now there is some chance of frosty and light ice nights and morning. but no snow. A mix of sun and light showers, around 5C highs and 0C lows. 

Make the most of this break from winter weather as there are signs of another week or so of a cold snap brewing for about late first week or 2nd week of February, but March is currently looking good.    

Moon :

Moon waxing, at 20%  ....  at Carrowcrory, Ireland ... rises 10:12 am, sets 11:00 pm
sunrise 8:33 am, sunset 4:57 pm

News ...

Local Food :
Food and drink are keeping Ireland's big houses alive

Once the grand palaces of the elite, and the HQs of the feudal system, Irish castles and big country houses are struggling to survive.

I have mixed feelings about them as none of us need this size stone space to live in and the energy required to maintain them is very high. I have not heard similar in Ireland, but Lord Thurso in Scotland brought down most of his castle and just kept a bit to live in to reduce his costs and use the stone elsewhere.

Converting these big houses into hotels have proves to be one solution, though most of the castle and country hotels went into receivership, but are still open for business. Ashford Castle has continued to do well, for example.

In theory, a castle or big country house should command €200 per room per night, €100 per person if two share, and throw in a good buffet breakfast. Keep a room booked right through the year and that's about €70,000 revenue per room per year, not bad. Due to mid week and off season discounts, night not used, and single people wanting less than full room rate, the actual revenue per year per room is probably between €20,000 to €40,000. That could repair a lot of leaks.

The huge plus of Castles and Big Houses in Ireland today is that their lands are home to most of the minimal native woodland that is still present in Ireland.

The woodland plus the orchards and huge walled gardens are a huge asset wanting to be used.

Not every castle and big house owner wants to live with guests around them all day and night year round, so they are attempting to use their grounds to create income streams to maintain their houses. Examples are harvesting fruits and vegetables and sell them part prepared, such as fresh harvested, cleaned and cut veggies to restaurants and hotels.

Others have entered into the alcoholic drinks trade by making craft beers, ciders, perrys and whiskeys from crops from their lands and utilizing empty outhouses for brewing and distilling.

Others have chosen to venture into meat and dairy based foods from animals grazing on their lands. Markree Castle Sligo, ventured into making natural dyed wools sheared from their own sheep.

All of this foods and crafts enterprise is producing local food and crafts with top quality at fair prices. The tourism boost is exceptional and more and more people are visiting Ireland for food, drink, crafts and culture rather than reflect on the famine, clearances and dark history.

Financial returns? I don't know. Hard to get a €10,000 a week or more return from food and drink as is possible from a castle or big house letting out 10 rooms. But it can be done. The castle and big house owners have to do what they enjoy most. If this preserves and protects the biodiversity on their lands that may be abused on public lands by corporate blackmailed government decisions ... then this is a good thing.

This does conflict what I believe in, that land should be common land for the shared provision for all people, and I question the validity of preserving large houses today. But, it does seem that the biodiversity of 'big house' lands currently have a better caring and preservation than several of the 'nation's' lands. Some of the 'big house' lands are in 'trusts' ... so perhaps that's the way to go? Also staying in the room of a castle or large house evokes wonder and sense of adventure. I wonder where I am truly happiest, within the walls of a large country house or naked under the cotton canvas of a tent?

I wish the enterprises of these big houses every success. They deserve it.

food and drink enterprise at Ireland's big houses

Biodiversity :
Pine Marten at Carrowcrory Cottage

Followers on Facebook will already know this adventure well, but I would like to archive this in the 'vaults' of this blog.

To recap, a Pine Marten tried to take up residence in the cottage here during our ice, snow and sub zero days from 16th until 21st January. The Pine Marten was actually here from the 16th to 18th.

This time, though very short, was a very moving experience for me focused on the relationship between humans and wildlife, and the decisions we make about them. 

I may not find the time to write up a blog post on this, so here is the story in pictures and captions on Facebook for public view, so non Facebook people can see too.

photo album story of the Pine Marten at Carrowcrory

Forest Conservation :
Always a good idea to bring Birch into your garden

If you find yourself wondering what trees to plant in your garden, you will be blessed if you consider planting some Birch trees first. Birch is nature's colonizing tree. Where Birch finds a home a woodland and maybe a forest will find a home. Birch is not just about woodland too as it immediately attracts fungi, insects and wildlife that are all essential to weave what is needed to create a woodland.

Here is a a lovely article that also embraces the beauty you will enjoy through your garden being a home for Birch trees ...

plant a silver birch in your garden

Ogham :
How to pronounce the Ogham alphabet?

This lad, Figleafe, has provided a blog post that attempts to explain how he pronounces each symbol of the Ogham alphabet. Many of these seem very different to how I pronounce the symbols and one day I will present a blog of my version. Due to the mystery of origin there is actually no correct way to pronounce these symbols. The attempts are based on fragments we know of old language. Of course, we have no audio recordings from medieval days and earlier to refer to.

Even so, you may find this interesting and even helpful.

how to pronounce ogham symbols

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