ecotourism in ireland

Sheeps Head and St Finbarr's Walking week 15th-20th May

Sheeps Head and St Finbarr’s Walking week    15th-20th May

St Finbarrs Walk Sheepshead Way West Cork IrelandExplore the wild scenery and exhilarating views of The Sheeps Head Way this May with Top Of The Rock. They have created an gorgeous 4 day package with accommodation, transport, meals and guidebook as well as an accompanying guide throughout.

A four day walking tour from the SHEEPS HEAD lighthouse to St Finbarr’s hermitage at GOUGANE BARRA, with five nights’ accommodation at the Top of the Rock Pod Páirc and Walking Centre. The cost of our 2016 walking week is €515 per person sharing (including VAT)

St Finbarrs Walk Sheepshead Way West Cork IrelandFor more details and maps on each days walk Click Here
St Finbarrs Walk Sheepshead Way West Cork Ireland


A Thesis on EcoTourism by Aoife O Donovan

Last year I spoke with Aoife O’ Donovan who was writing a thesis on ecotourism and its effects on creating environmental policy

She was looking for contacts to interview so I passed on details of a few people. Here (finally- sorry for the delay Aoife) is an excerpt from her finalised work:
Ecotourism Thesis by Aoife O’ Donovan
This project was submitted to University College Dublin in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc. Environmental Policy – Aoife O’ Donovan

While the complexity of the conflict between tourism development and economic growth offers no perfect solution, it is worth noting that ecotourism is becoming more and more of a reality.
It is considerably difficult to say anything negative about ecotourism. The literature had mixed reviews some authors seeing it as the golden opportunity within the tourism sector and others considering it a policy failure.
However, from the interview findings the former appears to be more accurate. Ecotourism promotes sustainability, conscious ‘green’ thought, environmental ethics and local support.
What became very clear throughout the interviewing process there is an overwhelming level of support within the ecotourism sector in Ireland. At all times environmental protection is their priority, meaning that it is possible to allow the ecotourism industry to grow, safe in the knowledge that those working in the industry will halt growth if the environment can no longer facilitate that level of visitors.
To summarise, ecotourism may not be a perfect industry or the only solution to the wider conflict but it is an excellent way to promote sustainability into the future.
Read the full document here:
Ecotourism Thesis by Aoife O’ Donovan
Contact Aoife On Linkedin >>

Meeting Miles Irving at #WFSS2015

Wild Food Summer School Forage

I made it to Blackstairs Ecotrails’ Wild food Summer School for the morning forage with Miles Irving yesterday and what a treat it was!
Miles was able to show us numerous edibles in the small area of the field we were in focusing on grasses and trees. His hope is that we can harness technology to make preparing wild food easier whilst keeping it wild and nutritious.
Here are some points I took away – please note that these are simply observations I noted and one should ALWAYS inform and educate themselves on the safety (and sustainability) of eating any wild food – check out Miles’ book on foraging here for useful tips and advice:

  • Dock weed seed is bitter but good for the liver – maybe chef’s can come up with a way to make them tasty – particularly great if they can make it something to accompany alcohal! 🙂
  • Blackberry leaves can be used to make a very nice tea
  • The young shoots of the Rowan tree taste like almond
  • You know those stickleback plants that stick to you when you walk through them? Turns out that you can use them to make a coffee type drink! Best when brown.
  • Don’t eat nettles when in flower as the crystals in them will irritate the kidneys – note that they don’t taste very nice at this time anyway…
  • Green Pine Flowers are best!

Thanks to Mary and Robert for a great event – am sure they are all still having fun! Wild Food Summer School runs until Sunday evening this weekend. Visit for details.
Follow Miles Irving on Twitter @ForagerLtd
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2015 Mini Eco Tours

EcoTours 2015

After the huge success of last years’ Ecotour of Ireland we have decided to do visit more Eco businesses nationwide to highlight all the wonderful stuff people are doing out there! 

Ireland is jam packed with fabulous fun Eco friendly things to do and places to visit and we want to make sure the whole world knows about them!
Learning from last years’ tour I have decided to break the tours into shorter trips usually midweek as we aim to ensure that the tour does not overlap with school holidays or very busy periods for participants.
Last year we got great press coverage and support both online and offline with RTE Radio 1’s Countrywide show documenting and interviewing us throughout the tour as well as local newspaper coverage and of course online support from The Tweeting Goddess herself, The WOW Team on Twitter and the general public.
This year we aim to get even more press and media coverage for all participants and indeed showcase the benefits of Ecotourism and Sustainable Living.
If you’d like your business to be included in our mini tours Contact Roz on 0831949444 or email
Check Out Last Years Eco Tour Blogs, Map & Audios

Sponsorship Packages available

Images From Last Years EcoTour:
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Eco Tour of Ireland Finale

Top of The Rock PodPairc West Cork

My nights’ stay on Day 10 was spent at Top of the Rock Pod Pairc with the aim of spending some time with owners David and Elizabeth Ross and here my trusty Google Maps GPS proved it’s worth again.
A beautiful journey it was, through stunning scenery – so stunning that I was about an extra hour than planned as I simply HAD to keep stopping to take photos en route – I even met a young stag pottering down the road before he leaped back into the forest!
Anyway, upon my arrival I was welcomed by David who showed me to my pod for the night – the Celtic luxury pod – OOOhhhh! Once I knew where I was going he invited me to join a few others at the outdoor camp fire where we were treated to homemade apple cake and toasted marshmallows.
What was particularly lovely – especially with my rather tired head from such a long day, was the introductions that he made for all of us there who included a bride and groom on their honeymoon and their family members from Galway who had taken the chance to catch up with this now emigrated couple (they now live in Australia and I would like to wish them a very happy life together there!)
After a nice hour or so chatting by the fire I decided to head to bed as myself and David had planned to visit a local Alpaca Farm, Tour the Pod Pairc grounds and meet a few other Eco minded people in the area in the morning before I headed back to the east coast.
Thursday morning dawned bright and clear, perfect conditions for our day ahead. After my tasty ‘breakfast in a bag’ I met up with David and we headed off to visit Waterfall Alpaca Farm who are friends of David and Elizabeth.
I have mentioned before how collaboration is popular between local Eco businesses and this is a perfect example of that. Both businesses recommend the other to passing travelers and promote one another where possible.

Alpaca Farm & Bumblebee Wedding Flowers

Waterfall Alpaca Farm is run by Markus and Emma Bird with whom we headed off for a riverside walk after which we met the famed alpacas- So cute! we couldn’t find them anywhere then Emma started calling them and they all came rushing up the hill then shyly looked at us from under very long lashes! I think I have been smitten by these gorgeous creatures. To find out more about this fun family day out visit
We also met a lovely group at Waterfall Alpaca Farm including Mags and Steve of Bumblebee Flower Farm who grow beautiful chemical free flowers for events and weddings- visit for details
After our visit David and I headed back to Top Of The Rock for a walk around the farm. The farm focuses on biodiversity with lot’s of bird friendly flowers & cover planted and the walk leads down to the river which is bursting with trout, salmon, kingfishers and much more – perfect for the nature lover. The grey partridge has also recently been sucessfully re-introduced to the area.
David told me how the local farmers are joining the Walkways Scheme: Under the scheme, landowners receive payments for the development, maintenance and enhancement of approved marked ways and looped walking routes through their land. With 16 farmers in the area already joined up it’s no wonder Drimoleague is a walkers paradise!
The farm itself offers a lovely river walk that is a perfect introduction to the area and brings you around in a circle back to the Pod Pairc where you can find out lot’s more about the local area and local walking routes – which include St Finbarr’s pilgrim walk, in their custom made walking centre full of maps, information and suggestions plus internet access with kitchen facilities for walking groups also available.
Top of the Rock also offer conference facilities -with a large projector screen, black out blinds and seats up to 80 people comfortably as well as retreats for those looking for a spiritual getaway.

Pod Pairc Accommodation

The Pod Pairc itself is very nicely laid out with a variety (7 in total) of pods available to rent including standard pods, family pods and luxury pods.
There is a modern communal kitchen with each pod having it’s own assigned cupboard supplied with delph and pots etc.. and very nice easy to use showers where you pop a €1 coin into the meter for 5 minutes of hot shower time in clean and modern private cubicles. The shower was fabulous and secure – I mention this having been walked in on during a shower many years ago when hostelling so a secure shower area is important to me and no doubt to others! 🙂
There is also a games room and again upstairs in the walking centre you can relax on a sofa and read a book while young children can play with the supplied toys, or eat as a group if the weather outside is not ideal to picnicking (it is Ireland after all)
There are also facilities for 5 camper van spaces and 5 or so tent pitches.
Open all year round, Top Of The Rock is the perfect destination for Walking groups, Romantic couples, Families and ideal for touring WestCork.
To contact David and Elizabeth visit their profile here >>
Listen to our Audio chat here:

January – February Events 2014

Eco Tourism Events Ireland Jan-Feb 2014

Coming up:
It may be Winter but there’s still lot’s of fun outdoor activities that you can enjoy with our EAI members:
Mountain Skills Course
11th January 2014 – Two day course
01st February 2014 – Two day course
Pre-Booking Essential
Lampshade (stained glass) and Jewelry (fused glass) weekend
Sat/Sun 22/23 Feb.
Pre-Booking Essential
Gold Panning Every Saturday Pre-Booking Essential
Avoca Mines Walk -Saturdays and Sundays Pre-Booking Essential
Irish Seaweed Safari – Daily – Pre-Booking Essential
Sea Kayaking and Surfing – Daily – Pre-Booking Essential
Burren Walks and Climbing Days – Pre-Booking Essential