20 Years Of Celt!
CELT began in 2001 when wildlife enthusiasts and dry-stone wall builders Richard O'Gorman and Bob Wilson had the idea to create a group of like-minded people to offer learning and awareness-raising activities in traditional and ecological skills. A non-profit company limited by guarantee was created and was registered as a charity in order to benefit from various funding opportunities. An event with a number of hands-on skills demonstrations was arranged at Bealkelly Wood, Tuamgraney, Co.Clare at the last weekend of November 2002 which attracted 50 people, many of whom were inspired to ask for further opportunities to learn more of such skills. The following year brought a successful funding application with The Heritage Council and two successful weekend events were held in May and September with more than 70 participants. The funding allowed for purchase of some necessary tools and equipment and fair payment of professional tutors. This was repeated in following years and some additional events were added during the summer and some events have attracted over 100 participants from all parts of Ireland (and some from overseas) plus many casual visitors. Local businesses benefited from accommodation, food and entertainment. In 2012 the event was held at Irish Seedsavers Association venue near Scariff and in 2013 we moved it to its current venue, Slieve Aughty Centre, Kylebrack West, Loughrea, which has excellent eco-friendly facilities with a range of accommodation options, organic food, woodland walks and equestrian activities. This venue also allows us to offer a number of one-day events throughout the year.
In 2005 CELT joined the Irish Environmental Network (IEN) which allowed access to core funding from the Department of Environment, thereby allowing more activities to be taken on, including supporting various environmental campaigns. We also joined the Environmental Pillar which is supported by IEN and links with the Department of the Taoiseach. This allows us direct access to politicians so that we can encourage policy changes towards a more sustainable way of life and a more healthy environment.
CELT developed a native tree nursery in 2007 supported by funding from the Department of Agriculture with collection and propagation of seeds from certified native sources. This fulfilled a nationwide demand for certified native trees and created local employment whilst improving biodiversity and encouraging more tree planting for carbon sequestration to help mitigate climate change. Another successful project began in 2007 when Tuamgraney Development Association asked CELT to help manage a new local community woodland area for the benefit of the community and also for wildlife. CELT raised some funds and brought in several experts to survey and assess the woodland. A circular access path was installed along with a bird hide, nest boxes, bat boxes and some explanatory signage. Some invasive species were removed and new trees were planted including native oaks grown from acorns from the nearby Raheen ancient oak woodland, a remnant of what was once known as the Great Forest of Aughty covering a thousand square kilometers of East Clare and South Galway. CELT also helped gather information and install signage for the nature trail at Mooghaun ancient Celtic site near Newmarket-on-Fergus. We participate in festivals, shows, conferences and other such gatherings around the country.