Friday, May 31, 2019

Social Farming

Social Farming is the provision of farm-based activities for people that have experienced social marginalization due to a diagnosed disability, mental health issue, asylum or refugee status as well as other issues that have brought about personal challenges for them. Daily activities and tasks at Cullenagh Farm Stables are shared with service users that have an interest in the care of horses and of their environment.

The Social Farming Handbook defines social farming as ‘both a traditional and innovative use of agriculture. It includes all activities that use agricultural resources, both from plants and animals to promote (or to generate) therapy, rehabilitation, social inclusion, education and social services in rural areas’.(Di Iavovo and O’Connor)

Our social farming day generally runs from 10am until 3pm, with each group attending one day a week, generally over a twelve-week period. After the morning’s meet and greet, participants discuss the agreed plan for the day. This may include stable care, turning out the horses, checking paddocks and water as well as taking the horses for a walk. Participants are referred by agencies and service providers. There are also some self-referrals. After the twelve-week placement finishes, the participant moves on to another similar placement so that they can carry their knowledge and new skills with them.

The service is funded by Social Farming Ireland in association with its local government sponsored representative, which, in the case of Cullenagh Stables, is Waterford Leader Partnership. Further funding is matched by regional services, such as the HSE, Rehab Care Ireland, etc. A social farming coordinator from Waterford Leader Partnership liaises with the stables as well as with the interested participant and/or agency. Together, all three parties draw up a Placement Plan, setting out goals and interests, and ensuring that all appropriate information is gathered. The information considers the needs of the participant and the facilities available at the stables. It also looks at any mobility or communication issues for the potential participant and seeks to ensure they are facilitated within the yard’s daily activities timetable.

The routine followed at the stables is much the same routine that’s followed on an average day at a yard, with participants matched according to interests and experiences. When necessary, a care worker may attend with a participant. The focus throughout the day is on ability rather than on disability, with a recognition that each person has a unique role to play in bettering the environment for themselves and for others.

Cullenagh Farm Stables was approved as a social farming centre in early 2018 after we undertook social farming training with Social Farming Ireland.

Evie has since commenced therapeutic riding coach training at Festina Lente Equestrian Centre. We hope to incorporate therapeutic riding into the social farming day at Cullenagh during the summer of 2019.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Monday, June 4, 2018

Monday, November 27, 2017

                   Dusk's rainbow of light

photo: Cullenagh Stables

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Chilly and bright autumn days on the trek

Sunday, August 20, 2017


This video to music was made especially for horse and countryside lovers. The photos were taken in and around Cullenagh Stables and the Copper Coast.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Video: A Little Fun

This video is a short clip from an afternoon at the yard

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

loving the stretch in the evenings

image courtesy of Dee Kinsella

Across The Seasons

Show season and the grooming kit is out
image courtesy of Gillian Corcoran 

Nip In The Air
Spring Colours

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Delighted we have followers in Japan, home to the most beautiful cherry blossoms and the best cars.

pic: Cullenagh Stables

Happy St Patrick's!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Out and About!

pic: Gillian Corcoran

pic: Julie Lennon

pic: Cullenagh Stables

pic: Stephanie Sweeney

having a chat!

pic: Gillian Corcoran

Friday, February 10, 2017

Spring In The Air

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Spa Well at Gorthaclode

The ancient spa well at Gorthaclode fringes the farm. Before doing our homework, we had wondered why there are pools of warm water at different spots along the River Dawn. Their use can be traced back to the days when horses and carts lined the High Road and pilgrims immersed themselves in the healing spring water. The following is a poetic account of those days:

(Via Cartophile's Log)

Do truths find their way home? Are there imprints left behind from centuries before, when smoke and steel drove paths beneath amaranthine skies, through rolling forests ablaze with oranges and golds? The spa well spills its secrets into the pools of colour collecting in the millrace and along the weir and in the trout streams.

In the shadow of a blasting furnace, iron water was collected by the bucketload and pilgrims soaked in the chalybeate spring. The Gorthaclode Spa was hailed as miraculous before events and circumstance dissolved a ritual into history and stories were hidden in the rivers and streams.

Does a landscape summon its stories home? Does an element return to its source over and over?

Sitting along a pathway at Gorthaclode are wagons loaded with steel as they wait patiently for an old railroad to return to life. Sharing a history with the crystalline rock birthed in the soil and pulled home by the lodestone buried in the hills, is this celestial metal merely finding its way home and are we merely the transporters?

 © 2017 Evie Connolly

Saturday, February 4, 2017


image courtesy of Julie Lennon

twilight's tunnel

time out on the Copper Coast

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The week we joined the Gypsies

Historic Saintes Marie de la Mer is the sacred festive ground for the annual veneration of Saint Sara, saint of the nomadic peoples. This little seaside town in the Camargue region of Provence, France welcomes pilgrims from the four corners of Europe and beyond to venerate the Black Sara during the last week of May each year as well as the Sunday closest to October 22nd.

Romanies, Manouches, Travellers, Tziganes and Gitans fill the streets with music and colour, culminating in the procession to the sea on foot and horseback to celebrate the arrival by sea of three very important saints who are deeply embedded in the life of Saint Sara - they are Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary of Clopas.

The bearers go into the sea to symbolize the arrival of the Marys. Some stories tell of Sara seeing the Marys arrive by boat. The sea was rough, and the boat threatened to founder. Mary Salome threw her cloak on the waves and, using it as a raft, Sarah floated towards the Saints and helped them reach land by praying. Other stories tell of Sara being a collector of alms who worked for the Three Marys.

After blessings and to the accompaniment of music and the set of bells, the Procession returns to the church. Later that day, there is a ceremony of bringing the reliquaries back up to the 'High Chapel'.

Violins, guitars, dance and singsong light up the evenings at Saintes Maries de la Mer. A multitude of small candles are lit during the festival and children held up in front of the statues as prayers are recited.

The music, colour, artistry and reverence contained within the celebrations reflect the spirit of the nomadic peoples, eternal pilgrims on the world's roads (many are fervent travellers of El Camino de Santiago). Indeed, within the world of art and literature, the Gypsy has for centuries represented the artist's nomadic soul, their connection with the spirit world and their resistance to imposed boundaries and materialism.

This free spiritedness undoubtedly attracted the attention of writers and artists such as Hemingway and Picasso who were visitors to Saintes Maries de la Mer. The painter Augustus John fell in love with Provence, which he claimed "had been for years the goal of my dreams" as he did with the Gypsy and Romany culture. John relinquished much of his worldly pleasures to pursue a nomadic lifestyle and learn the Romany language.

Taking the sturdy Camargue ponies through the wetlands of Provence and along the streets of Saintes Maries de la Mer, hatless (unrecommended, though understandably in keeping with an ancient tradition), there was the feeling of physical and spiritual freedom - the boundariless domain of the nomad and the artist.

Encampment at Dartmouth by Augustus John

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September Sunrise!

along the Weir Path

photo: Siobhan Reddy
photo: Siobhan Reddy

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Cousin Vinny ready for his guest appearance at Punchestown Festival today!

Friday, April 1, 2016

photo credit: Julie Lennon