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2004-03-16 Woodville Farm

For more than two years in this paper I have repeatedly extolled the merits of Sligo's under-rated splendour - it's vast acreage of woodland, it's tranquil lakelands and endless golden beaches.

 

The county of Sligo also serves as a breathtaking backdrop to infinite activities such as walking, cycling, climbing, fishing, golfing, horse-riding and surfing to name but a small selection. There are however specific enterprises on our doorstep which continue to attract increasing numbers of tours and tourists. About 8 years ago, a company in Sligo marketed a group of attractions specifically aimed at schooltours. Sadly some of these attractions have since disappeared which seems strange in a town the size of Sligo  surely there is a place for a Bowling Alley or a Jolly Rogers Playworld in our gateway city?

 

Some of course remain and seem to be thriving  the Wild Rose Waterbus, Carrowmore, Parkes Castle, the Seaweed Baths and Riverstown Folk and Heritage Park all attract large numbers of visitors from near and far, mainly througout the summer months. The more attractions like these that Sligo manages to offer, the more we can lure passers through to actually stop off and be trapped under Sligos distinctive spell.


 

One of the most successful attractions, and one particularly close to my heart is Woodville Farm. Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper I have frequented this beautiful old house and farm, romped in its hay-barns, swum in its streams, and hidden and sought in the rambling old farmhouse, and now that my sister Linda has married Mr Woodville-Farm himself, I am lucky enough to continue to spend further quality time here on my every visit home.

Just two kilometres from Sligo, nestled beneath Knocknarea and not far from ancient Carrowmore, Woodville Farm offers a unique blend of history and modern farming practices. This was where W.G.Wood-Martin penned his acclaimed History of Sligo. The farm first opened its gates to the public almost accidentally 15 years ago when a local playschool came to visit. Word spread quickly and farm tours had overnight became an alternative enterprise. Woodville Farm has been featured on various RTE programmes such as Mary Kingstons Disney Club, Liam OMurchús Rich and Rare Land, Darina Allens cookery programme and twice on RTEs Nationwide. Business peaked in the years leading up to the horrific Foot and Mouth scare in 2001, but as with many Irish farms the gates then had to be closed for over a year. Thankfully the scare has passed and Woodville Farm is once again taking pre-booked educational and fun tours. A tour can mean anything from local play-school groups, transition year students, agricultural students, or simply a few families getting together for a fun day-out. Minimum group-size is 15.


 

Woodville House was built around 220 years ago, and at that time many trees were planted, so the sylvan setting is idyllic, and yet so close to town. An organised nature-trail thus inevitably boasts a wide variety of tree-types. It is important to remember that Woodville Farm is not a pet-farm, but rather a full working farm which happens to have opened its gates to tours. As with most traditional farms there are of course sheep and lambs, cows and calves, pigs and piglets, ducks and ducklings, but also donkeys, goats, turkeys (including Dustin), guinea fowl, pheasants (including James!), peacocks, bantams, chickens, pet rabbits, guinea pigs, hundreds of free-range hens working overtime to supply local shops, and a very affable elderly pony called Jet. So collect the eggs, cuddle a duckling, pet the rabbits, feed the lambs or look and learn in the farm machinery museum. Children love it here, but adults also enjoy Woodville Farm as can be verified by visitors from right across the globe. Woodville participates in the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) and so many areas of the farm are being developed as wildlife habitats. Richard and Linda will also only be too happy to answer questions on farming and food production in our ever-changing EU. With all this, it is no wonder that Woodville Farm is a past-winner of the Farm Family of the Year Award.


 

So call or fax Richard or Linda Wood-Martin on 071  9162741 and book your tour now. Now if youll forgive me, Im off, I have a cow that needs flushing.