Upon buying Glencullen Allotments, I initially intended to christen it Clochán Cuilinn.
The Irish name for Glencullen is Gleann Cuilinn: gleann meaning glen, cuileann translated to holly, ergo, valley of the holly. That the area is synonymous with holly and that the path leading up the hill from the gate to the property is lined with holly trees pointed to cuilinn making up part title.
Cuilinn Concept – Holly Farm
Clochán came to my attention when researching the history of the local area. Glencullen has a village core with surrounding “cluster settlements”. These rural clusters, The Alleys, The Moors & Walsh’s Lane, on the outskirts of Glencullen, make up what are called “clachans” (or Clochán as gaeilge), traditional farming settlements comprising, what would have been, thatched dwellings and stone outbuildings encircled by gardens called “gorts”. I wanted to acknowledge Glencullen’s heritage of community farming and impress Glencullen Allotments’ continuation of the tradition of communal food production and shared livelihoods.
The Moors – Ruins of a Glencullen Clochán
I had a vision of something akin to a South African rondavel settlement or the old monastic beehive structures as I dreamed up what a new-age Clochán would look like, a medley of medieval industry, dry stone walls and wattle!
Utopian and idealistic, I imagined a resurgence of traditional arts and crafts, a place to promote the old ways of life, the simple pleasures and pains of the past. The native holly tree, crann cuilinn, and the ancient clochán would symbolise what Glencullen Allotments could become, not only a shared plot of land, but overlaying the allotments, a community system long practised, the fabric of society. This smallholding, adjoining Glencullen House and once part of the demesne, could come to connect past and present, a place of learning about permiculture principals which are rooted generation deeps and more broadly become a reserve of nativity, bringing old customs back to life, supporting local craft and methods of production, including and beyond the fruits of the earth, but ultimately honouring all that is natural.
Glencullen Farm is a compromise to the pragmatic practicalities of first and foremost running an allotment. The ideology of Clochán Cuilinn remains and over the years I hope to weave the principles of native, local, artisan and community in to our natural development. It’s a slow process, as it must be, but one day we might see Glencullen Farm as the destination for a resurgence of the craftsman and woman, the hunter and gatherer, the shepherd and the bard!