• Mucklagh Lodge (map)
  • County Wicklow
  • Ireland

Ancestral Foods and Herbalism in Ireland

Acorn processing, wild food foraging, and gathering knowledge from the landscape that’s been left for us by our ancestors

with John Slattery & Irish forager, Geraldine Kavanaugh

Avondale Retreat


County Wicklow, Ireland

September 27-29, 2019


Workshop fee:

$485 Double Room

$465 Dormitory

Register HERE!!

Are you excited to learn more about the healing and edible plants in your area?

Looking to feel restored through time spent in Nature? or develop a deeper connection to the natural world around you?


In this workshop led by American herbalist and forager, John Slattery, we will explore the fundamental aspects of bioregional herbalism: developing relationship with place and the plants within it. This endeavor leads us to the study of field botany, respectful wildcrafting and participation with our environment, plant energetics, landscape observation, developing and exercising the senses (particularly the feeling sense), herbal medicine making, and applying these medicines for well-being and healing utilizing our knowledge of our homeland and plant energetics.

And…we’ll also be learning about… Acorns!


Acorns: Gathering, Eating, Ancient Lore

In this information-packed, hands-on workshop John will take the participants through all the steps of processing acorns for food, and provide recipes for preparing your leached acorn meal. 

We’ll take a walk through an old oak grove, and explore the majesty of oaks and their tremendous influences on our lives, throughout history, throughout the northern hemisphere. 

We’ll fully process acorns to prepare them for cooking, and enjoy a delicious acorn and foraged food meal to wrap up the day. All participants will get hands-on experience with processing acorns, and everyone will leave with the knowledge and experience to properly process all acorns for food. 


It is often debated whether Irish people once utilized acorns for food as was done elsewhere across the northern hemisphere from New York to Tokyo to Lebanon to Los Angeles. As the verdant terrain of Ireland’s ancient agriculture allowed for abundant food supplies to sustain her people, it is interesting to ponder what the diet was like when the majority of the island was covered in great oak trees, hazel, pine, and yew. It is my belief that acorns were once cherished as food on the Emerald Isle. 


The virtues, history, and ethnobotany of oaks and acorns is vast and diverse. Walking through the portal, the doorway (from old Irish, “duir”, “oak”), of the ancient wisdom keepers, we'll begin our workshop with some time amongst the oak trees as John guides us on a walk through the history of oaks in the ancient world highlighting why oaks were so important and highly revered by our ancestors of the northern hemisphere and why we may have so greatly diverged from this once staple food source.  


We’ll process dry acorns and turn them into a ready to use flour using basic tools and techniques. There are so many ways to utilize acorn flour in your everyday home cooking, and John will provide a variety of suggestions for you to take home as we’ll also prepare a feast from foraged ingredients on Saturday evening. 


Register HERE!!

There is no equipment or prior experience necessary to participate in this class. Just bring an open mind and willingness to learn. Each participant will receive handouts detailing the acorn processing procedures we'll cover in class.

Feel free to bring dried acorns to class for processing, if you have them. 


Becoming bioregional in our approach is something akin to how our ancestors lived, in how their relationship with the local landscape nourished them, healed them, and the natural world around them was seen as living and fluid. The native Irish language reflected this through its intimate relationships with the natural world. Humans sang and spoke the songs of the land. 

This is not all lost. To listen to the land once again, to hear her song, is to rediscover the wisdom latent within the everliving spirit of mother earth... and that which resides within each of us. When we step out onto the land and engage our receptivity the land speaks to us, and our ancestors speak to us through the land, through the seasons, as well as the plants themselves.

Each day we’ll explore exercises to connect to the flow of life force all around and within us. There is a vast field of information available to us through our ability to connect our minds with the world around us and the plants are more than happy to oblige these endeavors.

As we walk the forest and mountainsides surrounding the Avondale Retreat Center we’ll be learning to develop our senses to engage with Mother Nature once again through group exercises while John shares knowledge about the uses of plants we see, and how to develop deep relationship with the place we’re in and the plants within it. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 5.07.41 PM.png


Learning about plants which naturally grow and thrive around you by developing relationship with the place in which you live is part of who we are, each and every one of us. It is time to reawaken to this and embrace it.

Deep connection to place through continued observation is the foundation for a bioregional herbalist. Knowledge is derived from experience, and wisdom through continued practice and observation of Nature (people, place, and plants). Learning about the plants found naturally occurring around us, in their natural habitat, begins to deepen our relationship to place. Little by little, patterns begin to emerge which inform us as to how we can use plants for medicine. 

If you are called to develop relationship with the plants around you for food and medicine, but unsure how to begin, then this workshop is just for you.

Also, if you have been gathering knowledge about the plants around you, but would like to go deeper, this workshop is also for you.


In addition to plant identification, we’ll also explore different applications of plants based upon their energetics. What are plant energetics? This will be explored through tasting simple plant preparations (teas, tinctures) as a group and observing and discussing what we feel upon ingesting them. John’s skill in coalescing these group explorations into a tapestry of teachings enables each participant to gain the knowledge that’s available to them at that moment, and assimilate it deeply into their being going well beyond rote memorization. 

The exercises in this workshop will introduce the participant to a method of learning which is empowering, distinctly individualized, unusually contextual, intuitive, and highly experiential. 

Bringing together concepts which are deeply familiar, yet widely applicable serves to uplift the participant to a new level of growth and learning. 


Workshop Schedule

Friday, September 27th

Arrive between 4-5pm. Welcome tea/drink, time to settle in.

18.00 Introducing the facilitators and each other.

18.30 Dinner

19.30 Story telling, setting the scene, if weather permits outdoors around the fire. The majority of the weekend will be spent outdoors, on the land and in the woods around Avondale Retreat.


9.00 Breakfast

10.00 Outdoors for foraging walk, gathering food for lunch. Collecting acorns for making flour in the afternoon.

The day will be interspersed with engaging exercises to activate and enliven the senses, helping people connect directly to the healing power of nature, which John describes as 'simple, palpable, and often life-changing for many.' We will learn how to turn acorns into flour for our evening meal. Our preferred method of teaching is participant led. For this reason we like to keep the schedule a little open and free, as we come to know the needs of the group this guides us in choosing which areas to focus on eg. foraging, using our intuition, nature connection, herbal medicine, ancestral wisdom.

12-1pm Lunch

1-2 Free Time

Afternoon, processing acorns together into flour for our evening meal. Continuing our exploration of the morning's teaching.

18.30 Wild Dinner


9.00am Breakfast

9.30 A deeper look at herbal medicine, the healing power of plants, intuition, making your own medicine.

13.00 Lunch

2-3 pm Reflections, discussion, sharing. 

3-4pm Departure.

*A list of what to bring will be sent upon registration.

Register HERE!!

John J Slattery LLC

Bioregional Herbalist

© 2016-2019