GLENGARRA Mountain Lodge is buzzing with life again as nature lovers find their way back to this scenic wildlife haven – thanks to ongoing restoration work by local volunteers!
We put on our sensible footwear and packed a picnic at the weekend to attend an open day hosted by Burncourt Community Council at the Co Tipperary shooting lodge-turned-hostel, which has lain empty in recent years.
The event had two purposes – firstly, to show the public how far the community had come in fixing the potentially devastating damage caused by vandals and thieves, and secondly, to remind us all that support was needed for the work still to be done.
Glengarra Mountain Lodge
I had recently blogged about my long-time love for Glengarra, and about my horror at seeing the damage done to the lodge during a series of night-time attacks by unscrupulous people. The blog also mentioned the work being done by local residents to try and undo the damage and give the lodge a purposeful future.
Our girls, Ava (11) and Becca (8) have been visiting this Coillte-owned forest since before they were born – during both pregnancies I would waddle around one of the loop walks with my husband or a sister in tow for as long as possible!
And they were both very upset when we came upon the vandalised lodge just a couple of years ago – that kind of violence is incomprehensible to small kids. So, it was lovely to return with them on Sunday to see the repaired roof and replaced windows.
Work in progress
I chatted to people involved in the project as the girls explored the inside of the building – which still requires investment and work – while tucking into the buns offered to visitors. It was their first time beyond the red front door, and although I used to be a hardened hack I hung back, and they were the ones who did the brazen investigating, combing every single room, in that way only children (and possibly veteran burglars) can do.
They were amazed by the circular main room, which would originally have been used as a place to relax at the end of a day’s shooting, and in later years by backpackers who would unwind and chat with fellow travellers.
Despite its wounded appearance – damp stains, stripped walls and faded paint – there’s still a sense of life (past and future) in the room. If that sounds a bit daft, I’m not going to apologise, because I think that anyone who stood there for a moment would sense that this building has more to give both the community and anyone who visits in the future.
As children we would walk from the main car park up to the lodge with our parents, grumbling along about our tired legs and the fact that our mother worried we would get tonsillitis if she let us paddle in the river. When we reached our destination we would look across the river and see the parked cars, vans and bikes of the hostel residents.
For several years, the hostel had remained isolated and vulnerable after its closure, so it was grand to see life return, with people who had grown up visiting Glengarra returning with their children and grandchildren on as, thankfully, sunny afternoon.
Looping history and Glengarra memories
We didn’t stay terribly long at the hostel, having earlier crossed a bridge at the carpark, we had walked through the forest to the top road, had our picnic, and spent time at the girls’ favourite spot – not sure why a river flowing over a roadway is always the absolute pinnacle of their Glengarra experience, but there you have it – before arriving at the hostel.
On our way back, we completed a loop by taking the narrow pathway by the river in front of the hostel, crossing a wooden bridge, hiking up a wooded walk, and two styles later we were back on the top road, mainly listening to Ava’s birthday plans (she turns 11 at 3.40pm on July 6 but the celebrations seem to go on for the entire month!).
Before heading home, we visited my parents, where three generations chatted about Glengarra and the Mountain Lodge over Granny’s rhubarb tart and icecream.
Last night, I was thinking about our day, and what I might write today, and it occurred to me that our past can be something we gift to our children for the future – if we have the sense to cherish it.
You can keep informed about the community’s progress or find out how you can help by visiting the dedicated website.
If you have any memories of Glengarra and the Mountain Lodge I would love to hear them. You can get in touch, or follow me on Facebook and Twitter by visiting my blog here.