Nature at home - The Burren, flora and fauna and creating a educational center

 The four year old pony, Floyd, ended up going to his first show on Sunday. He was third, in the pouring rain, which I was happy about as he was only ridden for the first time in January. Here he is relaxing the day after (right)

I lodged the planning application for the nature centre. As I am an engineer I was able to draw up the plans myself and do all the surveying etc. which means we only have to pay the application fee and because it is a conversion that is minimal.

The barn would contain a farm café and an introduction to the flora and fauna to be found on the mile long nature walk around the farm. This has views of the Burren mountains and includes limestone pavement, rare and alpine flowers, native species of trees, farm animals, poultry and an unusual tidal freshwater lake or ‘turlough’ that attracts a variety of birds and even the odd otter. It is a bite sized piece of the Burren and hopefully you would leave armed with all the information to explore the other ten square miles and full up with a delicious lunch of local produce including our own Aberdeen Angus burgers or home grown soups and salads.

We plan to develop the nature walk to include play equipment such as zip wires and climbing frames to encourage children to complete the walk and pick up a bit of knowledge as they go. We have also included an indoor play area for rainy days. It rained all Sunday and when I tried to google ‘things to do with children indoors in Galway’ the only results were the Aquarium in Galway city (been there), the museum (shut on Sundays) and the swimming pools (they were swimming on Saturday). There is a huge need for indoor facilities for locals and tourists.

We applied for a nature centre in the Celtic Tiger years. Our plans were way more ambitious with a state of the art new eco building and holiday apartments. Although Galway County Council approved the application and we had huge support from all the locals and the Galway Enterprise Board were (and still are) backing the project, one objection pushed the application to An Bord Pleanala (the planning appeals board) who notoriously do not agree with Galway County Council and it was refused. It is amazing how one €20 euro objection can disappoint so many. We are hoping that in these tough times if the same person objects (they have 5 weeks to do this) the appeals board would see it would be crazy to stop a new facility that will create jobs. We have been careful to address all the issues raised by them in the previous application but ‘what will be will be’. If it doesn’t go through we will be have to consider looking again at the opportunities in London or further afield.

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