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The students had a great day in the woods with Will and Away.  

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Phone: (087) 1366373
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Will's Story

 

We walked down the deep canyon walls of the Zambezi Gorge, and sat into our raft right next the majestic and powerful Victoria Falls. Never before had I been in such a situation. We were capsized by the very first wave of white water that hit us! That was the beginning of our rafting trip, and for me, a trip that inspired me to spend my life working in the outdoors.

As a child I had many experiences in nature, which were to develop a great sense of adventure within me and a powerful connection with our environment.

I first started studying outdoor education back in 2001 at the Castlebar campus of the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. Going to college was never a thing which particularly interested me, even though I always liked learning. In my final year of secondary school, I decided to take a look at what sort of college courses were on offer. This was a decision that would change my life forever. I discovered a course called outdoor education and decided to apply immediately. Interestingly, I had sat a job suitability test with the career guidance counsellor in our school. The results of the test showed that my ideal job would be an adventure sports leader. The career guidance counsellor, was as unaware of outdoor education as I was, and never knew to mention the course available in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. That’s the thing about outdoor education in Ireland, it’s an amazing resource that so few of us know of.

I took an interest in everything that came my way once I started the outdoor course. I graduated in 2004 and along with my degree I also gained qualifications in hill walking, surfing, rock climbing, kayaking, lifeguarding, archery, powerboating, sailing, sea kayaking, canadian canoeing and snorkelling. While in college, I also gained vast experience of the many adventures which can be had both in Ireland and around the world.

I had spent time doing work experience while I was in college and once I graduated I went into the Irish outdoor industry working as a full time outdoor educator and adventure sports instructor. I worked on the shores of Lough Mask, in the isolated Delphi Valley, all over the wild barren landscape of Connemara, riding waves on Achill Island, exploring the mountains of the Kingdom and anywhere else that people wanted to experience the beauty of Ireland’s landscape. I spent most of my time working on a part time or freelance basis. Being a freelance instructor allowed me to learn all of the best ways of doing things from the many different centres I was involved with.

Any opportunities that have arose to travel and develop my adventure and survival skills, I've taken them. I have experienced as much as I could so far in life, all over Ireland and in many other parts of the world. There have been so many enjoyable moments spent foraging for food in beautiful woodlands, improving my nature awareness, unwinding on isolated islands off the Irish Coast, sleeping out under the stars, warming myself by the campfire and so on. I’ve been in many scary situations, trusted my life in the hands of others, rescued people from the jaws of death, spent nights out in the wild with lots of creatures big and small, tested myself against the elements, been lashed by storms, frozen to the bone or had to take shelter from the glaring desert sun.  I’ve experienced many challenges in the outdoors and have been left humbled by Mother Nature many times.

My passion for nature and the outdoors has taken me on journeys to many beautiful places, but my favourite place has always been Ireland! This little country of ours holds many hidden secrets for any outdoor enthusiast.

And so then, in 2007 I returned to Castlebar to do an add-on honours degree in outdoor education. It was a very worthwhile year and gave me new perspectives on where to go next. During the degree year I developed a business idea which was about utilising an organic farm as an outdoor education centre.

After completing college I went to work at “Ballinreeshig Nature Farm” in Co. Cork. While developing my own business ideas within the farm, I also started getting involved with the farming. I gained skills in areas such as horsemanship, beekeeping, organic food production and animal husbandry. The farm produces a range of things including fruit, herbs, vegetables, grain, forestry, eggs and meat. All the work is done with the ethos of adding to the overall biodiversity of the farm, hence the name, “Ballinreeshig Nature Farm”.

During my time as a nature farmer, I had been constantly working towards being able to achieve my dream of offering top quality nature education courses and adventure experiences for everyone.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances my vision for turning an organic farm into an outdoor education centre was not to be realized... At least not as I had planned!

It became apparent that the best way for William O Halloran to move forward, was to create an umbrella under which he could offer many of his skills to others. The new umbrella became “Will and Away”, a mobile outdoor education service which has the flexibility and expertise to cater for the needs of everyone looking to experience what the outdoors has to offer. Through Will and Away, I can now provide top quality nature education courses and adventure experiences on farms, in the woods, at the beach, in schools, up mountains and anywhere really!

I am delighted to be in a position to be able to design and deliver top quality educational adventure programmes for people from all walks of life.

It is important for all outdoor educators to learn from their experiences, and to want to continually improve themselves. Hence, I believe strongly in constantly developing my own expertise through personal experience, learning from others and being a reflective outdoor practitioner.

Thanks to my life experiences, I have a passion for showing others the many things we can learn in the outdoors and I love enlivening people’s awareness of nature.

A day out with Will and Away will introduce you to the many joys of nature, and the many adventurous possibilities which we all need to experience... So let nature take you on a journey… I did!

William

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