Hasta la vista!

Hasta la vista!

This is the last Sheltermaker – in this format, at least!
In a few days I will be 63 years of age – time to semi-retire methinks.
I’m not going to disappear entirely – as you will see below, I’ll still be active but not in the way I’ve been since 1989 when I started the whole Living Architecture ‘thing’.
Thanks for being part of it all.
See you round.


Sheltermaking Workshop participants reveal a wild mood!

Inchicore Workshop participants display the sheltermaking mood!

If something racy is to your taste in respect of buildings then Wild Sheltermaking may be the thing for you.

I will be leading this ‘activity’ daily at the Earthsong Harvest Moon Camp 18th-26th July 2015.
Wild Sheltermaking 1

Say goodbye to tame, safe and respectable and say hello to wild, zany, exuberant and outrageous.

Wild Sheltermaking reveals our shadow side, our deep inner nature.

Wild Sheltermaking is womb, hidey hole, den, safe place, refuge – your place, your self.

Wild Sheltermaking is made using branches, sticks, string, cloth, grass, leaves, dream and imagination.

Wild Sheltermaking embraces, ignites, stimulates, lures, seduces, entices, invites, compels.

So, prepare to draw your line, to embrace your space, to live your wild side!

See you at the Earthsong Harvest Moon Camp 18th-26th July 2015!



Permaculture is much more than organic gardening. Arguably it is one of Australia’s greatest intellectual exports, having helped people worldwide to design ecologically sustainable strategies for their homes, gardens, farms and communities. This book charts a history of the first three decades of permaculture, through the personal stories of Australian permaculturists. From permaculture co-originator David Holmgren, to ABC TV’s Gardening Australia presenter Josh Byrne, the authors span the generations and the continent.

These stories represent the scope, depth and diversity of permaculture in Australia and around the world. They explore some of the influences on those who have embraced it, record milestones and highlight recurring themes. The editors’ contributions and afterword by social ecologist Professor Stuart B Hill frame the stories in terms of transformation of the inner landscape of our minds and hearts, as the critical starting point for the outer change that is needed.

For those whose lives have been changed by permaculture, this book provides a context for articulating and celebrating their own stories and experiences. Even more, it invites each of us, permaculturists or not, to embrace our power in designing our world out of the best in ourselves, for the benefit of the whole earth community.

Pages: 384 pages Size: 6 x 8.5 inch; Publisher: Holmgren Design Services; Paperback ISBN 9780975078624

Lunch on the EcionoSpace deck

I have some copies of Permaculture Pioneers for sale.

It’s a great read and an enduring book because it contains so many individual and inspiring stories from people who have embraced and practiced this innovative approach to sustainable living.

Net proceeds tithed to Permafund – supporting permaculture projects internationally.

The book itself costs €14 … but in respect of postage, due to it’s being slightly over 500gms in weight, it is classified as a ‘packet’ costing €7 to send within Ireland and €8.30 within Europe.

If you wish to purchase a copy Contact me and we’ll work something out.


Mal's Octagon 1

After a lot of thought we have finally started the cabin. We have decided to go with logs filling the joint in between with lime mixed with water and overlapping the corners. We pin every second log to the one beneath and will cut out doors and windows as we go you can add or remove whatever you feel …

Mal's Octagon 2

This project has now, literally, gotten off the ground near Belturbet in County Cavan.

It is being built using locally sourced timber, milled on-site using log construction.

The hut is being constructed alongside an extensive broadleaf plantation under Agricultural,
Farm & Forestry Development planning regulations

If you are interested in this project, further details are available HERE


Raising funds for the street and slum kids of Calcutta, India

I will be volunteering at this so worthwhile event. FULL DETAILS HERE See you there!

IHLeitrim  Mimetic house Sml


An Exhibition of Rural Architecture and Design
Co. Leitrim, August 28th-30th 2015

We are delighted to announce that Green Door 2015 will be taking place from the 28th-30th August.

Green Door is a Festival of Rural Architecture and Design; a weekend of homes and buildings of architectural and heritage interest, open to the public over two days. This is a chance to see inside homes, meet the homeowners, architects, designers and builders behind the restorations, extensions and new builds. It is a weekend where we are encouraged to look at our built environment, our local, inherited and new built vernacular and consider its impact on our lives and landscape.

Children's mud-slinging workshop Sml

County Leitrim is unique in that it has a large community of people who have built, renovated and extended homes and buildings using sustainable and often unusual ways of building and design. This interest and concern for the environment has led to a high ratio of experimental and exciting builds throughout the county and it this that inspired the setting up of the project Inspirational Homes in 2011.
The Green-Door festival wants to celebrate and share the huge variety and ways of living and building sustainably in rural Ireland today, with the aim of inspiring and encouraging others.

Architects' Models Sml

Through tapping into these homes, that are often hidden away down lanes and up hillsides and, through the generosity of the homeowners allowing the public to visit, the festival is able to open up debate, bring people and ideas together and inspire innovation and consideration for the future for rural living, building, planning, architecture and design.
This year we excited to be expanding our boundaries to include some homes in Co Sligo. We are also collaborating with The Dock arts Centre in Carrick on Shannon and The Model in Sligo. We are being supported by The Arts Council of Ireland, the Heritage Council, Irish Design, Leitrim Arts, Leitrim Tourism and Harnessing Creativity.

LAC Studio4

We are currently curating an exciting programme of talks, tours, workshops, films and exhibitions all of which will be up on our website shortly.

If you would like to be kept up to date about the weekend’s programme please visit our website www.inspirationalhomes.ie and subscribe to our newsletter.

If you would like to contact us directly, if you are interested in volunteering and/or if you think your home or building project would fit into the Inspirational Homes website and you would like to share your experiences, then please do get in touch: jo@inspirationalhomes.ie 087 778 1914

Hands-on Sheltermaking

Hands-on Sheltermaking


Modern Build, Traditional Skills & True Building Craft
July 25th – 26th 2015
Caravantasia, Co. Tipperary

Caravantasia is a fun new glamping (i.e. glamorous camping) site in Tipperary run by Tom and Heather Pollard who live on a 23 acre farm in County Tipperary and keep sheep, ducks, chickens, pigs and geese.

The campsite has 6 vintage caravans from the 60s and 70s that have been renovated into cosy little places to stay. Onsite facilities are powered by solar energy and a unique little wooden building on stilts is used as the central meeting point on site and as a venue for events. The entire site is off-grid, and where power is needed, it’s generated by the sun.

Of the event Tom has this to say: Eoin Madigan on traditional mortars and the varying types he uses.
Eoin will be leading the build with Eddie Farrelly who is studying Building conservation in Waterfort Institute of Technology.
Louise Price who will be talking about a cottage renovation she did in Donegal and a small demo on raking out and repointing.
The Drystone wall association of Ireland will be here too and will be demoing drystone techniques with a surprise build.
I will have stone for them and six envelopes with suggested builds like – a small buttress; a chimney suitable for smoking food; a curved wall; an arch; a bridge over the stream and a small wall.
I will let them choose one envelope and they hit the ground running.
It will prove that just having materials to hand anything can be attempted.
Pat Mc Afee is still not confirmed as he is waiting on news of work in the US but if he attends we have an expert in traditional building and materials on our hands,.
Noel O ‘Shaughnessy is also attending and is a second generation mason who has a knack of getting to build outdoor seating and cooking areas as well as fireplaces after normally doing an entrance or house clad and letting the client know of other avenues that can enhance their homes.
He will be talking about stretching your talent and trying other ways to keep busy and ensuring his talent is challenged and therefore enjoying his work over plodding along.

I will be speculating as to the essence of ‘true building craft’ and what this means in terms of the current fashion for natural building.


I AM WITH YOU by Sten Linnander

Reviewed by Peter Cowman

The Earth wants to talk with us!

This is the kind of flakey statement that is regularly ascribed to new agers, tree huggers and greenies – therefore easily consigned to the realm of the comic or the ridiculous. Even those ascribing to Gaia theory might find the idea absurd and certainly ‘unscientific’

Sten Linnander, the author of I Am With You – The Earth wants to talk with us, who was prompted in a shamanic ‘journey’ to initiate a dialogue with the Earth on an Arizona mountaintop, certainly had his doubts too.

Coming from a well educated background featuring global travel, alternative living, community involvement and a relentless search for meaning, Sten cast aside these doubts, followed the proscribed directions and indeed did find himself experiencing the Earth speaking to him!

Reading his book one can easily share Sten’s doubts while quietly supporting his sense of adventure, an experience which stretches our credulity, which, according to the Earth is ‘a recipe for our changing times’.

On our journey we discover that the Earth communicates to us through our inner senses which lets us feel its aliveness and, if we listen carefully, can inspire us to be open to new ways of seeing and engaging with the world.

One does not have to search far for precedents to such an innovative worldview – Aboriginal Australian culture is constructed on such a foundation as are many pagan and indigenous cultures, not to speak of modern approaches to ‘sustainable living’ such as permaculture and environmentalism.

Imagining the Earth as an ‘incubator’ is a reliable means of of trying out this recipe for our changing times – we seed our intentions into Her and she incubates then births these in an empowering act of co-creation. We are not separate from these processes but we can easily deny our engagement with these mysteries because our brains override input from our inner senses a.k.a. the heart.

This is a book intended to inspire and to encourage alternative worldviews. In this it succeeds masterfully. Buy it. Read it. Live it and share it with everyone you care about.



By Andy Borowitz

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report) – Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.



Grayson Perry’s newly designed house on the Essex coast inspires the question as to why more artists don’t collaborate with architects to produce buildings that are functional and have flair, even if the end result is – in Grayson Perry’s words – “bonkers” – Disney meets Dali with a spot of Baroque thrown in.



Alanna Moore and her giant cabbage

Alanna Moore and her giant cabbage

Organic practices could counteract the world’s yearly carbon dioxide output while producing the same amount of food as conventional farming, a new study suggests.

The white paper by the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for the use of organic practices, says that using “regenerative organic agriculture,” such as low or no-tillage, cover crops and crop rotation, will keep photosynthesized carbon dioxide in the soil instead of returning it to the atmosphere.