The Hedge School — An Scoil Chois Claí
The lovely little bright yellow cottage above is the physical headquarters of The Hedge School. Originally conceived as an artist’s studio, it provides a cosy, bright and open space for workshops. The Hedge School is located in the heart of the south Connemara Gaeltacht, in a village where Irish is the first language of almost every resident – and language and culture is at the heart of my work here. That work is firmly rooted in the hills and bogs of this magical, watery country, in which we walk always with one foot in the Otherworld.
This little Hedge School building is in the wooded garden of our home – a garden in which wild and weedy edges are cherished just as much as the neater fruit, herb and vegetable beds at its centre. Foxes, badges and hares are regular visitors. A beautiful little fast-flowing stream, the haunt of herons, tumbles along one boundary and down into the village loch. We tend bees – a couple of hives (we practice natural beekeeping), and a resident wild community which lives under the fascia-board at the front of our house. We also keep hens, and a very tame polytunnel which looks out to the Maamturk mountains.
Connemara is a beautiful, wild region — a land of sea and stone, of lakes, bogs and mountains — which constitutes the westernmost coastal fringe of County Galway. That’s The Hedge School’s location, in the image below: see the shadow of a house tucked in among the trees there on the right, on the other side of the loch. In the background are the stunning Maamturk Mountains, home of strange and beautiful myths and legends.
The Hedge School is close to the Gaelic heartlands of Ros Muc and An Cheathrú Rua (home of the traditional Galway Hooker fishing boats). Gleann Trasna (which means ‘crossing valley’ in Irish) is a lovely sheltered and hidden village in the hills, with green fields surrounded by drystone walls, on the shores of that beautiful, wild loch. The fascinating seaweed-strewn tidal inlets of south Connemara are close by, and Galway Bay, with the magical Aran Islands in clear view, is a fifteen-minute drive.
We’re about 45 minutes away from the vibrant old city of Galway. Shannon airport is a couple of hours away by road, and Knock airport is about an hour and a half away.