About Slieve Aughty Centre 2017-07-26T09:42:54+00:00

About Slieve Aughty Centre

How it all began…

In 1978, Esther and Hugo Zyderlaan moved to Ireland from Holland, seeking to live sustainably on the land. The first piece of land they bought consisted of 8 rugged acres with a small shed and a partially crumbled wall, the site where The Three Towers now stands. The first development on the land was Esther’s passion: the organic garden. The 2nd thing the Zyderlaan’s did was purchase a few goats and set up a small but successful dairy. They sold yoghurt and cheese in the Galway Market where Hugo now holds one of the oldest stalls still in operation.

In the beginning family and friends came and stayed and Esther’s daughter developed a talent and passion for horses. The family farm house, which the Zyderlaan’s built by hand, housed the first guests and continued to do so until 2006. In the mid 1980’s, the decision was made to stop the dairy operations and concentrate on horses. Esther gradually purchased more land and was awarded a grant from the Irish Horse Board to build her first set of stables. In 1986 the Slieve Aughty Riding Centre was born.

Steadily, the business grew and a need for more accommodation was recognised. Esther began developing her idea to expand to non-equestrian customers and her vision of a retreat where people could connect with nature and healthy living started to expand. The design for The Three Towers Eco House & Organic Kitchen was created and construction began in 2006. Soon after, the economy took a turn for the worse and the project came to a halt. For the next three years Esther worked tirelessly to keep her business afloat and after many sleepless nights, discovered that the 75% grant aid programme available from GRD (Galway Rural Development). After a tough application process, Esther was awarded the grant aid in 2012 and work on the building continued.

With its doors open to weddings, parties, workshops, organic dining and corporate events, the centre provides a rural escape for friends, families, groups and couples of all ages.

Today Slieve Aughty Centre is an eco-friendly equestrian and activity leisure  centre set on 17 acres of rugged Galway land. Guests have miles of trails for walking, cycling, horse riding and exploring nature as well as a stunning location for rejuvenation, relaxation and celebration!


Latest News

Family Easter Activities

The weather forecast looks great, so get the kids out and about!

The Spring Festival is in full swing, with Easter bunny tracks and riddles along the way to the Enchanted Forest, Easter arts and crafts, face painting, fun dressing up clothes, animals to pet and visit, and gentle quiet ponies to ride.  The go karts and small playground are always a hit with the kids, while the adults can enjoy a glass of organic wine or fair trade tea/coffee.


In the Enchanted Forest see if Ruby the Good Witch is in her hut, sprinkle your fairy dust, cross the rustic bridge to see the treetop fairy village, and jump on the troll’s stumps.  Along the way stop at the stone tower for a great view and visit the nature hut.


Slieve Aughty Things To Do EasterThe Three Towers is up and running all day with delicious homemade organic food, from our famous pancakes to Burren Smoked Salmon salad and weekend specials.  As an extra special family treat, Friday pizza parties are back with free face painting, pony rides and crafts from 6-7pm on April 19th and 26th.  Book now to make your own organic pizza and enjoy the delicious wood-smoked flavour from the clay oven this Friday.

Heating The Three Towers with Trees


Slieve Aughty Centre began 30 years ago with sustainability and nature-based experiences at the heart of everything we do.  In 2012 owner Esther Zyderlaan dismantled her original timber farmhouse to build The Three Towers Eco House and Organic Kitchen.  The building is a beautiful example of functional, comfortable sustainability in practice with lots of windows for natural lighting, low flow taps and toilets, efficient lighting features, puraflo peat filtration wastewater system, and eco-foam insulation.  Also in the plans was a biomass burning boiler for heating, which after 5 years of saving was finally installed in 2018.

The state of the art boiler burns timber and heats the 800 square metre guest house, eco-lodges, glamping cabin, conference space, and equestrian centre locker room, toilets and classroom.  The boiler itself was manufactured in Austria by HDG Bavaria GmbH and has an EU energy rating of A+.  It has an impressive capacity for 220L of fuel in the fuel chamber and is connected to 3 large insulated storage tanks with a total capacity for 900 litres of 90° water!

While the centre still maintains a traditional oil boiler as a back up, the goal with the HDG Euro 50 is to decrease dependency on fossil fuels by 80-100%.  The timber is purchased from Coillte, the largest private forestry company in Ireland, and is harvested Sitka Spruce, which grows quickly and is replanted after harvest, so is a renewable resource.  It is also grown right beside us, so we have nearly eliminated any shipping impacts.

Speaking of timber, the history of forestry in Ireland is really quite fascinating.  Ireland used to be one of the most heavily forested countries in all of Europe, mostly stands of oak and pine.  However, centuries of deforestation from agricultural clearing, industrial processes, and English interests resulted in only 1% of the total land area of the country covered in forests by the end of the 19th century.

Since entering the EU, incentives have been introduced to increase Ireland’s forested acreage.  Currently Ireland has a total forest cover of about 1,789,000 acres equivalent to 10.5% of the national area and 43% of this is in private ownership.  The goal is to increase forest cover in the country to 17% by 2030.

A visit to Slieve Aughty Centre offers you plenty of opportunity to explore more than 2,000 acres of Coillte forest, so you can see this renewable resource in action.  There are protected areas, harvested areas, and stands of forest in all stages of development throughout.  Every day you can visit a different part on horseback, on foot, or by mountain bike!

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