Enter the mycologist's (that's someone who studies fungi) paradise, the International Mushroom Festival, held in Killegar Ireland. The festival was started in 2010, when the Northern Ireland Fungus Group and the Irish Mycologists’ Society contacted Lady Sue Kilbracken to ask to visit Killegar and forage for mushrooms. Much mushroom gathering ensued, to the extent that species which weren't known to be native of Ireland were discovered. The event was such a success that it was proposed to make it a yearly occurrence. This year the festival coincides with UK's Fungus Day 2013.
All proceeds from the festival go to the 'Save Killegar' campaign, which raises money to repair and refurbish the beautiful estate on the location.
There are foraging expeditions in the woods with leading mycologists, who will educate members on the various species, and pointing out which are edible. Expect to see a lot of wildlife, including owls, pine martens, and shrews that are native to the estate. After the mushrooms are gathered, some of Ireland's best chefs will prepare mushroom based dishes for a tasty post-excursion treat!
There will also be talks, seminars and discussions on the topics of fungi, the forests, ecology and wildlife.
Super friendly nature enthusiasts, in the beautiful and unspoiled woods of North-West Ireland, what is there not to love? Enjoy the nature, company, and mushroom based dishes for a day in the outdoors.
There are special activities organised for children. Organisers have invited OWLS (Outdoors, Wildlife, Learning and Survival) club to teach children about the importance of nature and wildlife, as well as give them practical lessons about exploring and survival.
The Killegear Estate is two centuries old. A fire devastated the estate in the 70's, but it is recovering and returning to its former splendour.
The funds collected from the 2011 International Mushroom Festival allowed a series of repairs and restorations to take place; as a result the cobbled courtyard has been renovated, the dining room reclaimed, gutters replaced on the main house and doors and windows put back in the stable block
A full ticket that includes admission and foray into the woods costs $15. For just the admission it is $10. Students with ID and children under the age of 16 have tickets priced at $5. Children under the age of 5 get in for free.
For a full list of prices click here.
There are various hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area. For a full list click here.
The Kingdom of Fungi is a separate branch on the tree of life, distinct from plants, animals, and bacteria. Fungi, unlike plants, do not carry out photosynthesis, although there is a species discovered inside the Chernobyl reactor that apparently produces energy by absorbing radiation. As a result, they have to extract nutrients from other decomposing organisms. This makes fungi essential links in the life-cycle, recycling dead mass and extracting the nutrients. The organisers of the International Mushroom Festival recognise this, and it has a strong ecological bent.