Listening to An Áit Eile Ecology Coordinator Bernard McGlinchey, I remember thinking to myself – I definitely should have brought a recorder! Because Bernard does so much! From meeting up with him in the Transition Galway community garden last Friday, I learned more about his work and role in Monastery 2017.

It doesn’t take much to see that, Donegal-born Bernard McGlinchey, who has recently completed a BA in Business, Enterprise and Community Development; is fully committed to offering and supporting projects to help people live healthier, happier and more sustainable lives. It was exciting to hear about the different ways that Bernard weaves his love for the arts, health, and the environment into his projects/contributions to Galway.

Even having the conversation under a beautiful maple tree in the outdoor classroom, which Bernard designed in collaboration with Claddagh Arts Centre for Transition Galway’s community garden, on the grounds of Scoil Chroi Iosa; you can sense the huge amount of creativity and community spirit that is present in his work. And that we can do great things for our community, and for ourselves, if we really want to.

Bernard McGlinchey

His current project; Monastery 2017, is being brought to us as part of Galway European Capital of Culture 2020, in association with Teachin, Butterfly Wings and Cregg Castle in Corrandulla.

Galway Monastery 2017 is inspired by previous European Capital of Culture project “unMonastery” which was held in Matera, Italy. It will consist of 3 Hackathon events – ECOHACK, ARTSHACK and TECHHACK. It will be a co-living, co-working retreat adapting aspects of monastic life to the modern age, guided by St Benedict’s “The Rule”.

Soon there will be 10-12 people making their way to Cregg Castle for ECOHACK, where they will be hatching ideas, connecting, and exploring “community” in terms of transitioning to sustainable practices. There will be opportunities for them to participate in yoga, archery, gardening and building prototype design projects. The accommodation will be basic, and vegetarian ingredients will be provided for meals. They will take part in a “Deep-Dive” comprehensive review of health and nature, and a “Tiny Home Workshop”.

Monastery 2017 is about retreat, and providing a space for reflection and personal development, as well as a place for connection and hatching ideas that will benefit Galway, town and country. And by having this unique retreat at Cregg Castle, it also gives rural places in Galway a boost. Monastery is part of An Ait Eile’s Culture Development Cycle for 2016 – 2020, which has 3 different thematics; Monastery, Meitheal and Pilgrimage, that overlap to form “Pilgrim”.

Pre-Monastery, 2016

In December 2016, the AÁE Team had the opportunity to test Monastery. 12 participants, skilled in design, food growing, wellness, organising, performing, community and social development leaders, spent three days at Cregg Castle, where activities included exploring the castle grounds, practicing yoga and archery, sharing cooking and gardening skills, and working on nature trails, to name but a few. A report was compiled and is available on request by contacting

With years of experience in design, healthcare, yoga, gardening and cross-over into the arts it becomes clear why Bernard is passionate about transitioning into healthier, happier, sustainable lifestyles. And through meeting his collaborators on “Pilgrim”; Thomas Stewart (AÁE Creative Nondirector) and David Boland (AÁE Arts & Culture Coordinator), the cultural road for “Pilgrim” looks bright and innovative.

Bernard’s work, rooted in collaboration, creativity, wellness and sustainability, have a lot to offer us in Galway, and I am looking forward to the upcoming Monastery 2017.

If you are interested in participating in ECOHACK, or would like to be kept in the loop regarding  ARTSHACK and TECHHACK later in the year, you can email for more information. Also coming up at the castle, will be a Davin Jones Yoga Workshop hosted by Green Lotus Galway. Tickets available on Eventbrite.

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