PDC Previous Participants

Here are what previous participants on our Permaculture Design Course (PDC) say about their experience.

Mairéad McGuinness

2022 PDC graduate

"The PDC at Carraig Dúlra had a massive impact on my livelihood, my general outlook on life and how I interact with other people. I left the course with an enhanced sense of empathy, better communication skills and new ways of parenting. I found all of the speakers/tutors incredibly inspiring, engaging and natural and I enjoyed the unique, laid back atmosphere about the semi wild place. The course opened my eyes as to how permaculture thinking can be applied to so many aspects of life, even those you wouldn't associate with nature or food production. I made friends for life there!  Hope to be back again someday! amazing place!"

Bart Pakula

2022 PDC graduate

I found out about permaculture online and quickly became fascinated with it. I wanted to get a hands on experience instead of just internet research so I signed up for the course and I recommend it wholeheartedly. Mike and Suzie as well as all the teachers are so friendly and open. I learned a lot of theory but also put that theory into practice. The many guest lecturers and broad range of topics was very interesting and kept us on our toes. I wasn't bored for a single second.
The most important thing the course thought me was that permaculture isn't just gardening, it's a philosophy. You see the world through the lens of permaculture.

Alva Brennan

2020 PDC graduate

I’d had a curiosity about Permaculture for a long time and when I’d spotted Carraig Dulra’s website a few years ago I was captivated, but couldn’t get the chance to go until this year. It was worth the wait. I got so much hands on experience that I could finally properly grasp what permaculture is all about. This being 2020, meant the course was delivered bit differently. As well as on-site experience, we also got to do distance learning and I found this added to the course. The videos and extra materials were invaluable and I could work at my own pace – I have no regrets that we had to do the course a little differently under Covid 19 restrictions. Since I’ve completed the course I’ve already being asked to get involved in a local forest garden project. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Ann Walsh

2020 PDC graduate

The varied aspects in the course making it a whole experience. Also the group and how we worked together. The facilitation of that was very well done. The visits were very very special. Loved doing the design project.  It was an awakening to so many possibilities and a chance to really reflect on what my life plan could be bug also how to make small but significant changes.  Everything has changed for me since - the way I grow food to how I think about everything. I really liked the videoed interview pieces, being able to think about them, Engage with them before the course, and play them again.

Do it. Jump in feet first and go with what happens. Don’t overthink any of it first. If you’re curious at all you should try it. If you’ve questions about life direction (like I had) it’s quietly, subtly life changing. And the people you meet are the best. 

Ashleigh Connors

2020 PDC graduate

The PDC 2020 in Carraig Dulra surpassed my expectations beyond words can even explain. I had expected to pick up a couple of new skills that I could apply to my own garden with an end goal of one day maybe producing some fruit or veg for my family.  I walked out of the course with my certificate in hand to a whole new world and way of thinking. Along with a whole host of new like minded friends from all over the country to share this journey with. Additionally with a whole network of skilled people I can tap into at any moment with any questions to help along the journey. It was not just the course, it was so much more as ever since I have felt like I am still learning everyday and deeper exploring into the world of permaculture along with my fellow 2020 group. I have expanded my network further than I ever even knew I needed to. The teaching team have wholeheartedly put their hearts and soul into the design of the course. I feel so supported by the teaching team the entire time, before the course, during and even now, long after the course! The experience and knowledge each of the organisers of the PDC have is invaluable. Every need of every person on the course was catered too, no ask was too big. I am forever grateful for their time and energy put into the course.

The best outcome for me, the word paradigm shift is probably most appropriate to describe the whole experience. I went into the course with a very individualistic mind-set and goals. Adding stress to myself thinking how will I complete all of these projects and goals alone! The course made me reflect and realize we don't have to do these things alone and that power is within the community. The PDC opened my mind to co-ops, co-housing, community farms, community gardens and so much more. A roaring fire has been ignited within me to get out there and get working with people in my community on these fantastic projects. I had never thought about community until the course and ever since, it is all I think about!

I have since started a community swimming group in our local river where we meet every week. I am hoping that I will meet people who will be on board to get involved in other community projects EG community gardens. Afterall, the oak sleeps in the acorn. Other welcomed and cherished outcomes are the hard skills I have picked up on the course eg. design, sowing, growing systems, propagating, compost systems and water management and so much more. I now have the confidence to get out and get my hands dirty in my own garden.

The course was incredible at every single moment, online and on site at CG. 

I recommend every single person to take a leap of faith and do it. It can set you off on an invigorating lifelong journey in whatever direction that fuels you.

Kathy Treacy

2020 PDC graduate

I really valued the fact that this course was accessible for absolute beginners like me. There was space for people of all experiences to gain from this course and asking questions was both welcomed and encouraged. This made it a real collaborative and collective learning experience. At a practical level, I have skills to assess the outdoor spaces available to me to maximise their potential as living, growing, feeding and housing spaces. I now have core questions/assessment strategies that will help me to work with nature for a shared benefit.

I am motivated more now than ever to do what I can in implementing the principles of permaculture. The realisation that the principles can apply in pretty much any life setting you find yourself in is so empowering and knowing that there is an entire community across the country and beyond living by such pro- planet values provides great hope. 

It was really nice meeting some group members via zoom before the course began. It gave me a lot of things to think about and follow up on. It became a significant social element during the course being able to watch or rewatch recorded lectures and this led to meaningful discussions and helpful questions that we could then take to the field work the next day.

Ankur Vikal (Bombay, India)

2017 PDC graduate

"I look at trees differently now"
"It meant the world to me"
"It's one of those eureka moments that Archimedes had"

Muriel, Ballymun, Dublin

2017 PDC graduate

"I appreciated the patience and helpfulness of the team. I feel very confident that the skills and knowledge you gave us, and the way that you structured the course, which tied everything in, like little steps that went from one thing to the other to the other, made me realise I have many skills and the whole person really came together for me."

Steven Bray, Blessington, Co Wicklow

2017 PDC graduate

It is sometimes a bit intimidating when you're coming into the group, but that didn't last long. It was really friendly, really positive.
The work itself was wonderful and wonderful to be out in nature. The teaching was excellent.

Rebecca, Dublin

2017 PDC graduate

 "This course was amazing. There was so much fun, the amount of learning and knowledge that was shared was amazing. It was really inspiring to see the work that's happening in Ireland... The chance to get out of Dublin and be in such an amazing beautiful location that people put so much heart and soul into: you get a lot of peace of mind and the happiness and wellness that comes from that. So anybody who's suffering and doesnt know why they are, this is the solution to so many problems that inner city living is conducive it."

Aoife Reilly (Primary School Teacher)

2016 PDC graduate

I found the permaculture training really hands on and I got to use the fantastic skills I learned to help me chose the right land to live on and it also helped me feel more confident in my education work. It was fun and experiential , I would definitely recommend this course!

Caroline D'Arcy, Wicklow

2016 PDC Graduate

The best thing I did last summer was sign up for the PDC at Carraig Dulra! I've always had an interest in doing things naturally & organically but this took things to the next, more rounded, level. The invaluable Grow Your Own information was great, but what I didn't expect was the variety of different subjects & interesting tutors every day. So much to absorb! And what really made a big difference was being immersed in it. Living there, sharing wonderful food & experiences with all the other lovely like-minded people, of all ages & nationalities, was truly amazing. By the end we all felt like one big family! I also felt so healthy, being outside a lot in beautiful surroundings without the usual distractions of modern life, & I slept so well! And the food... So delicious & colourful! I came away with not only a huge amount of knowledge, but also a deep sense of community.

I've since moved into a cottage with a decent garden so have slowly started on that. I'm much more conscious of living more harmoniously with nature. I don't frequent Facebook too much, but when I do, it's great to see how everyone's doing. We have this connection. We'll help each other out on various projects when we can.

Brendan Little, Donegal

2014 PDC Graduate

Coming from an amenity horticulture background I found it a career and life changing experience. The balance between the practical and theoretical was perfect, the venue ideal and the people, both tutors and students were great.
Meeting creative and like minded people gave me the confidence to introduce permaculture principles to my design and teaching work. I would recommend the PDC course to everybody who cares in any way about the future of this planet"

Rebecca Fahy

PDC Graduate

The PDC at Carraig Dulra was a wonderful experience. it is a magic, inspiring place and to be there surrounded by beautiful, like minded people made it an unforgettable experience. It was a great chance to try out new skills and learn new things about myself and the people around me. Since the PDC life has been busy! every year I grow more food and meet more people doing the same, I hope people will continue to be inspired from carraig dulra and do the PDC

Deidre Doyle, Dublin

2016 PDC Graduate

I always promised myself the treat of living for 12 whole days at Carraig Dulra in the Yurt and last year I did! I took the Permaculture course and although the weather hadn't warmed up to summer it was so cosy. This was due to the extraordinarily active and attentive tutors, frequent laughter, hot stoves and as many cups of tea/coffee/herbal as you could manage. Most of all it was the way in which everyone on the course, regardless of our diverse backrounds, was made to feel comfortable, enabled and heard. We bonded so well and that is the magic of Carraig Dulra with Suzie and Mike Cahn and all the amazing people they have gathered around them to facilitate this course. Do it! It will change you and inspire you.

I now am looking to buy land and put this into practice on a larger scale than in my garden and my friend's garden as I do now. I have the confidence to do it now.

Sarah Kernan, Donegal

2016 PDC Graduate

Almost as soon as I arrived at Carraig Dúlra I knew I had made the right choice in terms of where to do my PDC. Perhaps it is because it was Suzie and Mike's family, extended family and many circles of friends who initially began shaping and creating Carraig Dúlra, followed of course by the amazingly positive, enriching and empowering experiences of the subsequent students, WWOOFERs and volunteers adding to it's legacy that Carraig Dúlra now exudes a sense of home, of belonging and that you are in the care of family when you arrive and embark on your learning journey.

The immersion experience; the "living-what-you're-learning" technique is what lends a PDC at Carraig Dúlra it's most authentic edge. The expertly cohesive, non-hierarchical and inclusive team of tutors, helpers and assistants all made for a balanced and accessible learning experience for me.

Each of the tutors brought their own knowledge, understanding and interpretation; and indeed each their own distinct and authentic teaching approaches and styles which in turn gilded and equipped each student with the tools to apply to their own learning experiences each day, and indeed to take away and use further. I do not exaggerate or over-enthuse when I say the 30+ people I shared my PDC with, that wonderful Summer in 2016 has genuinely and literally changed my life.

I have made lifelong friends, gained most vital experience and knowledge, and very crucially been empowered to confirm and cement things I already knew. If a main goal of a grower is to create and build the most enriched, fertile and abundant soil - the students of Carraig Dúlra PDCs are surely examples of that human "soil" ...leaving with ideas, inspiration, connections with each other, with networks and with the wider Permaculture community and in turn feeding this back into the world around us.

I am now at the beginning stages of my own permaculture project on a site a little over 1 acre in my home county of Donegal with my future husband. We are building a sustainable home, creating a food forest, installing water harvesting and grey water purification systems, growing biomass, will be raising chickens and preserving and living off our little patch of earth. Had I not taken my PDC, and especially had I not done so at Carraig Dúlra I would still be only dreaming of taking the leap and finally doing it for myself and my family. My sincere gratitude goes to Suzie, Mike, Hannah and Barry et al for helping me realise my dreams.

Sarah Ryan

2014 PDC Graduate

I had the pleasure of doing the PDC in Carrig Dulra back in 2014.. Wow!! What a great time! So much laughter, sunshine, learning and creativity.I met so many good people. It gave me the framework to design not only my garden but my life as well. Three years on, I feel the direct impact all that learning has had on my life in such a positive way!! Thank you Carrig Dulra and all the lovely people involved!!!

Aideen Klauer

PDC Graduate

I would say a very informative course delivered in a beautiful setting. Very good food, I wasn't a resident as I had family commitments. Participants themselves were very interesting and inspiring people. Great to meet like minded people that gave me hope that the world has environment caring people in it. I am still working as an engineer as I was before the PCD but have helped start a Grow It Yourself group now in existence for a year. I also have become more active in participating in community groups in my area which I feel could be partly due to doing the PCD. I feel I now have a good background into what permaculture is about and hope I am applying it in my own way to my smallholding and life in general.