Learn sustainable life skills at Common Knowledge’s County Clare retreat

The Common Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Living is a workshop retreat from the social enterprise team behind the Tigín tiny home project

Accommodation at Common Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Living
(Image credit: Courtesy of Common Knowledge)

What more perfect part of the world to learn the skills needed to live a truly sustainable life than the rugged coast of West Clare? This is where you’ll find the Common Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Living, a social enterprise co-founded by Common Knowledge, the eco-living innovators behind the Tigín (Tiny Home) project, awarded Wallpaper*’s Life-enhancer of the Year 2023.

The trio behind it, Harrison Gardner, Erin McClure and Fionn Kidney, offer courses on everything from a five-day Build School to weekend courses on welding, furniture building, lime plastering, foraging, organic planting and more.

Common Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Living: from self-building to furniture-making

A tiny house in Ireland

Inside a Tigín tiny home by Common Knowledge

(Image credit: Courtesy of Common Knowledge)

Common Knowledge has been sharing its sustainable living skills through specific courses since 2022, but this year it finally has a base worthy of its self-build ambitions. ‘We’ve found our home,’ says Gardner, of the 50-acre site, in the heart of Ireland’s breathtaking Burren landscape, just 15km from the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare. ‘It was an old retreat centre, a bit run down, but it had everything we needed.’

External grass roof dwelling and girl in Irish countryside

The centre’ accommodation is basic and doesn't impinge on the benefits of the landscape

(Image credit: Courtesy of Common Knowledge)

'It was an old retreat centre, a bit run down, but it had everything we needed.'

Raising the €600k purchase price entirely through crowd-funding, the team went on to host a traditional month-long Irish meitheal (where neighbours and friends gather to swap skills and work) to get the place guest-ready, resulting in an impressive wooden workshop space, a lodge, a kitchen and a selection of simple accommodation offerings across The Lodge, Courtyard and Campsite.

Handmade stool

Furniture-making courses are offered as part of the Sustainable Living programme

(Image credit: Courtesy of Common Knowledge)

Workshops range from niche-interest pursuits, such as dry-stone walling and lime plastering to building concrete countertops. Co-founder Erin McClure, a textile designer, stylist and founder of Caravanseri Interiors, has also introduced sewing, natural dyeing and loom workshops.

Communal eating room and external view of wellness centre

The dining room faces the meadow

(Image credit: Courtesy of Common Knowledge)

In 2024, the key focus is to bring these elements together elevate the accommodation. ‘We’re currently working room by room,’ Gardner says, ‘adding a Caravanseri touch to the interiors and bringing the build methods we teach, such as concrete worktops, naturally dyed fabrics and handmade furniture into each space.’ The aim, he says, is to create a ‘fully immersive Common Knowledge experience. We want people to come and stay and hopefully take inspiration for their own home.’

Exterior of Irish workshop centre in County Clare

(Image credit: Courtesy, Common Knowledge)


Dublin-based Lizzie Gore-Grimes is a noted magazine editor whose career has spanned global stints at House & Garden Cape Town, GQ London, and at various titles in Ireland. Gore-Grimes focuses on travel, food and wine and interiors. She is a former Chair of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, a seasoned cookbook editor and lecturer, and is currently editor-in-chief of Image Media.