Information and Final Report

FINAL REPORT

      • Eco-Cottage Tourism Development Project

        ‘The EcoBooley Project’

        Part of

        The Pilot Initiative on Tourism
        and the Environment

        With funding from

        The Department of Tourism, Sport & Recreation

        Through

        The E.U. Regional Development Fund

        And administered by

        Bord Fáilte

        June 2000


        Terry Cunningham, B.Agr.Sc.,M.R.D.

        Rural Enterprise Adviser, Teagasc, Carrigeen, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

        INTRODUCTION

        PROJECT IDEA

        (A) Project Concept
        (B) Background to the Project Concept
        (C) Core Project Concept
        (D) Special Planning and Design Constraints

        HISTORY OF THE SOUTH TIPPERARY ECOBOOLEY PROJECT 1998-2000

        (A) Application
        (B) Project Management and Finance
        (C) Legal Issues
        (D) Architectural Issues
        (E) Technical Research
        (F) Construction
        (G) Landscaping
        (H) Project Recording
        (I) Website www.ecobooley.com
        (J) Publicity and Extension Work
        (K) Costs – Projected and Actual

        A SELF-CATERING COTTAGE FOR RENT

        ‘Ireland 2001 Self Catering Guide’
        Stay in an Irish EcoBooley and go back to the Future

        APPENDICES

        Appendix 1: Location – 3 km west of Clogheen
        Appendix 2: Photographs before Reconstruction and After Reconstruction
        Appendix 3: Sketch of Proposed Garden Layout

        INTRODUCTION

        The Eco-Cottage (Tourism Development) Project is basically about the development of a new product – the EcoBooley Self-Catering Cottage – for an emerging environmentally aware tourism market.

        Work Programme

        The project (beginning in late 1998) consisted of three main stages:

        1. Research into the alternative and Eco-friendly technologies and systems (which are
          appropriate and available in the Irish context) that would render the EcoBooley completely habitable and usable.
        2. The restoration of one abandoned homestead – the Looby Cottage at Ronga, Clogheen, Co.
          Tipperary – and testing the validity of the techniques.
        3. a) The compilation and indexing of the information and approaches
          b) The dissemination of the information to the widest possible audience, especially via
          www.ecobooley.com
          c) Make further arrangements with, and amongst all interested parties so as to mainstream the whole concept, and begin the process of establishing the EcoBooley as a viable tourism product.

        PROJECT IDEA

        (A) PROJECT CONCEPT

        The Irish Eco-Cottage (Tourism Development) Project aims to create a new, branded, and uniquely Irish product, the EcoBooley Self-Catering Cottage.

        Rural Ireland contains countless numbers of abandoned homesteads, all charming and important in their own way, and often located in remote and beautiful parts of the rural landscape.

        Such homesteads often have difficulty of access and are usually not serviced by mains water and electricity supply.

        Rather than seeing the problems – of developing such properties as tourism outlets – this project believes that they may present great possibilities as ‘Eco-Tourism’ accommodation outlets.

        The overall idea is for the owners of such properties, who are mostly farmers, to reinstate some of those homesteads – using only Eco-friendly technologies and materials. These habitable houses would then be let out as self-catering accommodation to the expanding Eco-friendly tourism market.

        Branded Image
        The plan is to brand-label the concept (i.e. ‘EcoBooley’), using a symbol scheme method similar to the organic food industry, and thus maintain the integrity of the product.

        The brand name chosen is EcoBooley, as Booleys (from the Irish ‘Buaile’) were the temporary upland summer milking places of old Ireland – all remote and lovely.

        To stay in an EcoBooley is to stay in an old place, in a lovely landscape, and in the knowledge that you will leave the environment as you found it.

        (B) BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT CONCEPT

        The project, as conceived, resulted from the observations and experience – over many years – of the project originator, Terry Cunningham, Rural Enterprise Adviser, Teagasc, South Tipperary.

        These included:
        1. The knowledge that countless numbers of abandoned farmsteads and homesteads lay
        scattered across the Irish countryside. Many of these homesteads were beautiful in their own right and were often situated in remote and lovely parts of the rural landscape.

        2. The realisation that unless a real and viable use could be found for some of these
        abandoned homesteads that a great loss of our store of vernacular architecture would take place.

        3. The knowledge (mainly gained from development work in East Africa), that with the use of
        Alternative and Intermediate Technology, that houses in remote areas can be rendered very habitable and functional.

        4. The knowledge that tourism can, of itself, create great environmental damage if not
        properly planned and executed, and that it can destroy the very environment which attracted visitors in the first place.

        5. The knowledge that a new kind of traveller/tourist was emerging – especially in Northern
        Europe – who wished to take an environmentally friendly option when deciding on a holiday destination or activity, i.e. they wish to travel but not to damage the landscape or environment in which they holiday.

        6. An overall awareness – gained from an involvement in environmental and organic
        farming issues – that all industries, including the tourism industry, will have to adopt a sustainable approach to all and every aspect of business and associated lifestyle.

        (C) CORE PROJECT CONCEPT

        The project wishes to create a branded, self-catering tourism product – the EcoBooley.

        The project is only interested in a totally genuine approach to the Eco-labelling concept.

        The belief is that the brand must deliver on its promise. This means that the EcoBooley, in all its aspects – siting, construction, fitting-out and functioning, must adhere to definite and recognised environmental/sustainable standards.

        Eco-Standards in Practice
        At a practical level, the concept dictates that to achieve the ‘EcoBooley’ label:
        &Mac183; the cottage must be located in an unspoilt area of the countryside
        &Mac183; it must be an existing old homestead
        &Mac183; that the immediate area (i.e. gardens) around the house must be managed to Organic Standards
        &Mac183; that all materials used in construction must be natural, renewable materials – preferably from the immediate local area
        &Mac183; that all services (lighting, heating, cooking, etc.) must only use renewable energy sources i.e. wood, solar, wind, water, geo-thermal, etc.
        &Mac183; that wood for fuel and construction must be taken only from managed and sustainable forests – preferably from the immediate local area
        &Mac183; that the furnishing and fitting-out of the cottage must likewise use all natural and renewable materials
        &Mac183; that all materials and products used on an ongoing basis while the EcoBooley is in use (toilet paper, washing-up liquid, etc.) must be to the highest environmental-friendly standards available.

        (D) SPECIAL PLANNING & DESIGN CONSTRAINTS

        The reconstruction of the Looby Cottage into an EcoBooley involved contending with a various array of special constraints and considerations – sometimes conflicting – that needed to be attended to and resolved.

        1. Financial constraints – project had to remain within budget.

        2. Planning regulations – project had to ensure compliance with planning regulations as they
        applied.

        3. Bord Failte’s Self-Catering Guidelines: as the cottage was destined for the self-catering
        tourism market, compliance with Bord Failte’s guidelines had to be considered at all times. (However, due to the unique nature of the EcoBooley Self-Catering concept, a separate ‘special’ set of guidelines may be required, should the concept be extended nationwide).

        4. Eco-Friendly/Organic Building Guidelines: a definite body of accepted ‘best practice’
        exists in the whole Eco-Friendly/Organic Building area, but a definitive ‘Book of Organic Building Standards’ does not exist at present. This project forms part of the research necessary to compile such a ‘standards manual’, such as exists for instance in the Organic Farming Industry.

        5. Conservation/Architectural Considerations: when dealing, as we were, with an hundred year old cottage, it was imperative to consider the architecture integrity of this lovely piece of vernacular architecture. However, a guiding principle within the project design criteria was that if a conflict existed between architectural/conservation issues and eco-friendly design issues, that eco-friendly design considerations must always take priority in the context of the EcoBooley project.

        6. General Environmental and Immediate Location/Site Issues: the project by its very nature
        wished to cause as little disturbance as possible to the immediate surroundings and in fact wished to enhance them at every opportunity. For instance, the immediate garden space adjoining the EcoBooley would have to be maintained using organic gardening methods only and this imposes special design constraints (for instance, a lawn area suitable to a ‘push lawnmower’ may be a feature).

        7. Safety Issues: the consideration that an ever-changing group of visiting tourists will have to live in, and use, the EcoBooley and precincts on an ongoing basis.

        8. Idle-Time Issues: Those special considerations associated with those times when there are
        no tenants actually living in the house.

        9. The owner’s (Eamonn Looby’s) own special wishes and requirements.


        HISTORY OF SOUTH TIPPERARY
        ECOBOOLEY PROJECT
        1998-2000


        (A) APPLICATION

        An advertisement seeking submissions to ‘The Pilot Initiative on Tourism and the Environment’ was taken from the Irish Independent of April 2nd, 1998. An application was made on June 11th, 1998 by Teagasc Rural Enterprise Service, South Tipperary in co-operation with Eamonn Looby, Ronga, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary – farmer and cottage owner.

        The application and subsequent co-ordination of the project was carried out by Terry Cunningham, Rural Enterprise Adviser with Teagasc in South Tipperary.

        The good news that the project was selected for inclusion in the Pilot Initiative was received on 11th September, 1998.

        (B) PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND FINANCE

        In September 1998, Tipperary Leader Group were included in the project team to take complete control of the financial management of the project.

        Management
        In practice the project was managed by consensus management involving:
        &Mac183; Terry Cunningham – Teagasc Rural Enterprise Adviser – Overall Co-ordinator
        &Mac183; Eamonn Looby – Farmer and Owner of Cottage
        &Mac183; John Devane – Manager of Tipperary Leader Group – Financial Administrator
        &Mac183; Garry Gleeson – Technical Consultant and Builder
        The system worked extremely well and a great synergy and trust developed within the project team. This, in itself, was a very worthwhile experience for all involved and must be considered as another positive outcome of the whole project.

        Finance
        &Mac183; The total budget for the project was £73,915

        &Mac183; Grant approved was £55,000 or 74.41%

        &Mac183; Matching finance of £18,915 was supplied as follows:
        a) £15,000 by Eamonn Looby, Ranga, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary, Cottage owner
        b) £3,915 by Garry Gleeson, Carrigmore, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary, Enviro-Builder and Consultant.

        &Mac183; All monies including bridging finance, matching funds and grant draw-down were all lodged into a Special Bank Account (Tipperary Eco-Current Account) under the control of Tipperary Leader Group.

        &Mac183; In turn all payments made for, and on behalf of, the project were made by Tipperary Leader Group from the Tipperary Eco-Account.

        &Mac183; Their (Tipperary Leader’s) auditors, Noonan O’Cinneide & Co., Auditors & Accountants, St. Michael Street, Tipperary were responsible for the proper management of the account.

        (C) LEGAL ISSUES

        The project employed Kennedy, Frewen, O’Sullivan, Solicitors, St. Michael Street, Tipperary, as Solicitors to advise on, and execute, legal matters such as:

        &Mac183; The legal protection of the brand name EcoBooley

        &Mac183; The matter of ‘The Deed of Covenant’ between Bord Failte and Eamonn Looby, owner of the cottage

        &Mac183; The matter of the legal agreement between Teagasc and Eamonn Looby ensuring access for specified interested parties to the Ecobooley for a number of years into the future.

        (D) ARCHITECTURAL ISSUES

        The project employed Edward J. Walsh of ED Walsh, Architect, Enterprise Centre, The Square, Cahir, Co. Tipperary to:

        &Mac183; advise on all matters architectural

        &Mac183; deal with planning matters and the Planning Authority – in this case, South Tipperary County Council

        &Mac183; to survey site and prepare working drawings as required

        &Mac183; to issue a certificate of completion as, and when, required.

        Ms. Mary Hanna, Architect with the Heritage Council was contacted and she visited the site to advise on conservation and preservation issues.

        (E) TECHNICAL RESEARCH

        The project employed Garry Gleeson, of Garry Gleeson Associates, Carrigmore, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary:-

        1) To carry out the technical research necessary to enable the Looby Cottage to be reconstructed – with all services installed – using all, and only, eco-friendly materials and methods

        2) To produce two Technical Reports:
        Report One: Baseline / Preliminary Report
        Report Two: Final Technical Report.

        Report One – Baseline / Preliminary Report

        The brief for Report One required that the Baseline Report would:

        a) describe and access the Looby Cottage in its semi-derelict condition

        b) outline the various technical approaches available for reconstruction

        c) indicate the most appropriate options to be pursued in the context – financial and otherwise – of this particular Eco-cottage reconstruction.

        Report Two – Final Technical Report

        Report Two would:

        a) record and describe all works carried out and materials used

        b) act as a definitive technical report on the project which would be used as a basic information source for all who seek to replicate the concept elsewhere in Ireland.

        (F) CONSTRUCTION

        The project employed Garry Gleeson Associates to also carry out the actual reconstruction work on the Looby Cottage in accordance with the specifications as decided by Project Management. A detailed account of construction methods and materials are contained in Technical Report Two – Final Technical Report.

        Main Reconstruction Features

        Energy:
        Electricity is supplied by a water driven electric turbine, which produces 1.4 Kw of power on a continuous basis all year round. Turbine is fed by a 700 metre long heavy duty pipe (4 inch) which comes from a mainstream stream.

        Heating:
        Heating is by a wood burning stove, and surplus heat from the electricity supply is also used. The wall between the downstairs bedroom and toilet/shower room acts as a radiant storage heater as it contains a coiled hot water pipe surrounded by sand.

        Insulation:
        – Roof insulation is treated sheep’s wool (treated so as to avoid insect infestation and decay)
        – Internal walls are plastered by using a thick coat (one inch plus) of a lime and hemp (fibrous plant residue) mixture.

        Toilet:
        The toilet is a composting type toilet which eliminates the need for a septic tank. A willow garden is being used to soak up excess liquid and nutrients from the toilet and kitchen area.

        Fitting out, Cooking Methods, Food Storage, etc.

        This whole area is being dealt with at present (June 2000), and again strict eco-friendly standards must be adhered to.

        The Tipperary Energy Agency Limited, Church Street, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, in the person of Mr. Seamus Hoyne are helping with ‘a design mix’ of equipment, utensils and methods that can be used to make the EcoBooley (with 1.4 Kw of power) functional as a holiday self-catering unit.

        This aspect of the EcoBooley is not covered by funding from the Pilot Initiative proper but it is an area that requires further work should the EcoBooley concept be extended to a national level.

        (G) LANDSCAPING

        A low maintenance, organic style garden is required to surround the eco-cottage. Perma-Culture Design concepts are being incorporated into the overall design mix.

        Mr. Ciaran Walsh, an Horticulturist with much organic experience from Kildalton College, Co. Kilkenny is assisting with the garden layout.

        Some of the main features include:

        – a car park to the north, and outside, the EcoBooley garden area, and the site is surrounded by a rough stone wall which is traditional to the area

        – a patio area has been dug out and finished off at the south gable of the EcoBooley

        – cut lawn area is being kept to a minimum to allow for cutting with a ‘push’ lawnmower

        – the use of native Irish plants, including the planting of some old Irish fruit trees supplied by The Seed Savers Association (Capparoe, Scariff, Co. Clare)
        – the use of wild flower and meadow mixtures as supplied, for instance, by Design By Nature (Monavea Cross, Crettyard, Carlow)

        – the use of a willow garden to soak up excess moisture and nutrients and also to supply coppiced fuel-wood on an ongoing basis

        – the building of a simple drying shed for clothes.

        – the building of a small storage / fuel shed.

        (H) PROJECT RECORDING

        1. Written Record
        &Mac183; Ten monthly reports were written up and forwarded to Bord Failte.

        &Mac183; Two technical reports – 1) a Baseline Report; and, 2) Final Technical Report form an integral part of the project

        &Mac183; One final EcoBooley Project Report (i.e. this report) covering the broad outline of project from conceptualisation to actual reconstruction of the Looby Cottage.

        2. Photographic Record
        Mr. Joe Kenny, N.U.J. of Kenny Photographics, Fethard, Co. Tipperary was employed to make a detailed photographic record of the cottage in the ‘Before Reconstruction’ and ‘After Reconstruction’ states, and to conduct other photography as required.

        It must be noted also that Mr. Garry Gleeson, Consultant and Builder, also conducted a detailed photographic record of the work as it progressed, some of which appears in the Final Technical Report and on the Web Site.

        3. Video Record
        Mr. Peter Grant, of Grant Video, The Valley, Fethard, Co. Tipperary was employed to make a detailed video recording of the project at various critical stages throughout 1999 and 2000, and in excess of three hours of video footage exists. This is being used to create a number of focused ‘Video Programmes’ for use as educational and publicity aids.

        (I) WEB SITE – www.ecobooley.com

        Mr. Joe Kenny of Kenny Photographics, Fethard, Co. Tipperary was employed to register, design and maintain a web site as the main vehicle for the dissemination of information on the EcoBooley Project.

        The site was activated in April 2000 and is planned to operate for two years.

        J) PUBLICITY AND EXTENSION WORK

        The internet, via www.ecobooley.com will be the main means of dissemination of information on the project.

        (A) Other Publicity
        Publicity is also being achieved
        – via Teagasc Publications – Teagasc Today and Todays Farm.
        – The National Press, articles appeared in the Examiner, The Irish Independent and also in the
        Local papers – ‘The Nationalist’ and ‘The Avendhu’.
        – Magazines, e.g. The Furrow (of John Deere International) and The Big Issues.
        – Paid advertisements appeared in ‘The Source Directory’ of Alternative Businesses and Services.

        (B) OPEN DAYS, GROUP VISITS, LECTURES, ETC.

        To date five organised groups (one from the University of Wales) and many individuals have visited the Cottage.

        Open days are planned for the September-November 2000 period and onwards as required.

        Organised group visits are now being encouraged and this will continue for a number of years.

        Also project members are available to give illustrated talks and lectures on the EcoBooley project and concept.

        (K) COSTS – PROJECTED AND ACTUAL

        The overall project is being completed within budget, but some internal adjustments had to be made during the course of the project.

        The budgeted figures and actual figures are outlined below:

        ___________________

        Budgeted Figures
        Actual Figures
        1. Tourism / Environment Plan 2,500 (a)
        2. Core Technical Research 5,000 6,722.22
        3. Restoration of Cottage 43,000 (b) 50,891.83
        4. Monitoring, Landscaping, Misc 3,000 1,250.22
        5. Print and Dissemination of Results 10,500 (c) 4,386.11
        6. Fees (legal, architectural, etc.) 2,000 1,778.03
        7. VAT 7,913 8,884.59
        TOTAL 73,913 73,913.00

        Explanation for Financial Adjustments

        (a) In the light of actual project needs, the Tourism/Environmental Plan monies were more
        appropriately spent under Heading 2 ‘Core Technical Research’.

        (b) Restoration costs rose mainly because of:
        1) the unforeseen purchase and installation of 700 metres of heavy duty piping and
        associated water driven electric turbine
        2) the use of a novel system of internal plastering which used an eco-friendly lime/
        hemp plaster mixture, and this involved the importation of materials and experienced applicators from France and the UK respectively.

        (c) A major saving was achieved under Print and Dissemination of Information with the
        realisation that a web site (www.ecobooley.com) was by far the most cost efficient way of making information available to the widest possible audience – thus cutting out the need for the issuing of large quantities of expensive print material.

        A SELF CATERING COTTAGE
        FOR RENT

        The furnishing of the cottage does not form part of the funded project but of course the cottage must be fitted out to comply with Bord Failte’s guidelines for self-catering accommodation while still adhering rigidly to environmentally friendly standards.

        Ms. Mary O’Halloran of the South Eastern Regional Tourism Authority (SERTA) has been helping in this area in an attempt to incorporate the EcoBooley concept into existing official Bord Failte self-catering guidelines. This is an area that requires further work should the EcoBooley concept be adopted nationally as a branded product for the tourism market.

        ‘Ireland 2001 Self Catering Guide’
        The Looby EcoBooley will appear in the 2001 edition of Bord Failte’s Self Catering Guide.

        Marketing of the EcoBooley will be concentrated in the Alternative Magazine area, i.e. magazines that deal with organic farming, the environment, holistic living, alternative medicine, etc. as this is the market that the EcoBooley concept is likely to have most appeal.

        The following is an example of the sales pitch being used to market the Ronga EcoBooley:

        Stay In An Irish EcoBooley
        And Go Back to the Future

        The EcoBooley (Eco-Cottage) is a new and unique concept in eco-friendly self-catering accommodation.

        The EcoBooley at Ronga, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary in the foothills of the Knockmealdown Mountains, is the first of its type to be re-constructed.

        In the re-construction of this old stone cottage, only eco-friendly technologies and materials were used.

        For instance, the power supply for lighting, cooking and heating comes from a small water driven electric turbine (1.4 kW), and a wood burning stove adds to the snug atmosphere. The walls are insulated with a hemp and lime mix, local sheep’s wool insulates the roof, and the toilet is of ultra-modern composting design.

        There is direct foot access to the Munster Way for endless hill and forest walking and the lovely Galty-Vee Valley countryside is all about you.

        To stay in the EcoBooley is to stay in an old place in a lovely landscape and in the knowledge that you will leave the environment as you found it.

        To book the EcoBooley, contact Eamonn Looby, Ronga, Clogheen, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, Telephone 052-65191 (best times 7.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.) or check Website www.ecobooley.com for information on the National EcoBooley Project.

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