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

What is an eco-wedding?

Long before being “green” was trendy, Slieve Aughty Centre planted the first organic seeds in the garden, raising awareness of the immense value of enjoying nature without an un-natural impact.  Today the centre continues to plant those seeds, encouraging wedding couples to keep their commitment to each other and the planet at the forefront.

The Venue…
A green wedding does not mean sacrificing quality or comfort.  In fact, some of the eco wedding ideas are downright quirky, unique and trend-setting.  Let’s start with the venue itself.  While your ideal venue doesn’t have to be energy efficient, why not ask?  Are they using any alternative energy sources such as wind or solar power?  What do they do to conserve water and electricity?  What is their policy on changing towels and cleaning rooms (your guests went to bed at 4am and were up again at 8.30 – do they really need their room cleaned)?  While we are on the subject of cleaning, are they using any chemical free cleaning agents, or earth friendly toiletries?  Obviously, you don’t want to choose your venue because they have low flow toilets, but it never hurts to let your venue know that you care.

Speaking of the venue, saying your vows outside is not only beautiful but incorporates natural light and backdrops.  An outdoor wedding is a great way to impress your guests, create excellent photo opportunities, and use nature’s beauty for decoration. The Three Towers is famous for it’s scenic and romantic surroundings – provided free of charge by Nature.  Holding your ceremony and reception in the same place cuts back on fuel emissions and travel for your guests.

The Food…
One of the most important aspects of a wedding is the food.  Join the “farm to table” movement and look for venues and/or caterers who use local produce (The Three Towers grows their own!), preferably organic.  You simultaneously reduce food miles and increase taste – your guests will thank you for it.  Organic and local can cost a bit more but the rich, fresh flavours and healthy ingredients are worth it. Did you know that scientists have proven a link between Roundup and cancer?  Not something you want at your wedding table.  At The Three Towers, we go one step further and feed your guests from a formal buffet.  It minimizes food waste and gives your guests lots of choice and the option to come back for seconds – which they will when they taste the difference.

The Drink…
Consider washing down the meal with organic wine – vineyards are heavy pesticide users.  Some organic wines are even sulfite free.  Go one step further and make sure your venue has good clean water and keeps the jugs at the tables filled.  Plastic water bottles are getting a lot of negative press and rightly so.  More than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun (Guardian, 2017). According to a 2018 Independent article, only 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled. Most plastic bottles end up in landfill or in the ocean.  Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms, and by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish (Ocean Conservancy).  So if you only do one thing for the Earth at your wedding avoid plastic bottles.

Make it personal and Green…
As a wedding coordinator, one of the biggest wastes I see is DYI decorations.  While I always encourage couples to customize their day, it can be done without contributing heaps to the landfill.  I hate seeing so much go in the bin the day after, especially plastic and flowers.  We offer native wildflower arrangements for €5 a table.  They are beautiful and sourced completely from what grows around us.  If that is not suitable, consider potted plants.  One of our couples received a money tree – potted bamboo with €20 notes tied on the branches.  Very cool!  There are lots of companies doing unique gifts – if you want to leave a trinket for your guests consider something like seed bombs, local handmade chocolates, or even better make a donation to charity in place of a gift.  Fingerprint trees are an excellent and popular idea for a guest book, and dried flower petal confetti is beautiful and easy to make.  Paper products are another waste.  We use chalkboards for everything – seating plans, menus, welcome boards.  If you are going to use paper, find a printer who offers a recycled option.  You can even find compostable paper and eco-friendly ink these days.  Try to avoid individual menus and programmes – we find them all over the ground and they fill the paper bin.  Only you will want these as a keepsake, not your guests.

It really is easy to show some consideration for the planet and have a wonderful wedding.  Make going green a habit every day and let your guests know you care.

Go Post to Post in 2018

We are excited to be offering a new post to post trail riding holiday opportunity in partnership with Connemara Equestrian Escapes!  

Find Out More

This week-long riding holiday offers trail riding, cross country jumping, meals, accommodation, visits to cultural sights, transport, and memories!  Spend three days exploring the rugged Slieve Aughty hills, forests and rivers and/or try out the walls, ditches, logs and water complexes on the centre’s challenging cross country course, all from the comfort of The Three Towers Eco House and Organic Kitchen at Slieve Aughty Centre.  Then travel by private mini-bus to Connemara for another 3 days of riding among the stunning forests and shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland’s largest lake.

Available beginning Monday, April 16th.


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