About Us

Folks ask to see a face and a person linked to an activity, so here I am :-)

I do lack pics here on this page, and will bring some along and post soon, but meanwhile here I am ...

Hello, I'm John Willmott, many folks called me The Woodland Bard, so I am starting to use that name in performance.

I am the one who puts these Bards In The Woods pages together.

I live in a restored thatched cottage 5 km west of Ballinfad on the Co. Sligo and Co. Roscommon border at the foot of the Curlews and Bricklieve mountains.

I have a Native Tree Labyrinth at home and enjoy visiting and exploring forests around Ireland as much as I can. I also love to have picnics there put together with local food where possible, though a bit tricky with a cup of  tea unless I add local heather or similar.

Being a writer, poet, storyteller and songwriter myself I like to offer and co-ordinate time in the woods and forests with others with three activities in mind

1) To relax and enjoy the forests, and help each other with identification of trees, shrubs, flowers, fungi, insects, birds and mammals we see there.

2) To share words with each other as I believe words are to be performed and not just sit on paper. Also in the woods together there is that attentive balance where we can express and have a voice that is listened to. We can be of an audience that can listen without irritating distraction so that we can enjoy the enchantment, inspiration and wisdom.

3) To share and enjoy picnics together where there is fun, laughter, sharing of recipes and an overall good time.

To Bathe In The Forest ... or Protest ??

There are 154 public access woodlands in 26 counties of the Irish Republic

Compare that to 190 public access woodlands in the 6 counties of Northern Ireland.

I enjoy encouraging more people to visit More Public Forests, More Often, around the Republic Of Ireland.

More people are posting their interpretations of Shinrin Yoku from Japan, Sanlimyok from Korea, and now our own Boladh na Sióga. All of this is 'Forest Bathing', some say Forest Medicine, a simple way to relax, recharge, regulate heart rhythms and blood pressure and dissolve all of your stress away.

I have a link to lots of info on this in the right margin.

Challenging this are the considerations by the Irish government to trade public assets to corporations. From time to time Public Forestry is considered as sites for supersized wind turbine farms, clearing to create pasture for the increasing cattle export trade, and worst of all, setting up drill platforms for Fracking.

Another challenge is to halt monoculture, single species, forestry that is followed by clear felling harvesting. The preferences is more mixed species diversity and selected felling that provides excellent employment for for horse and felling teams as well as preserve the sustainability of vital biodiversity in forests.

During 2013 there has been front line 'armies' of placard and banner waving protesters loudly calling for the protection of the Public Forests ... and indeed their voices are heard. This will continue through 2014 and beyond.

Unfortunately, I think, these protesters are angry about a lot of things and move from one campaign to the next. I am sure a lot of them now have quite a collection of different banners for different causes.

Few of them seem to be devoted to the forests and may only be seen in them during banner carrying rallys. I often feel the forests are vital to them to relieve that anger and stress that they work with for their causes.

The Bards In The Woods "Cause"

After dabbling in the Protests myself and after indulgence in Forest Bathing my own cause in future is with the Forest Bathing.

I spent time in the 80s in Protests to protect Public Forestry in Scotland and bring about a Community Forest Policy.

A few years ago I had a massive stroke, and I do believe it was time in the forests and the inspiration I opened to, that helped me to recover quickly.

So for now, my invitation is for people to share and joy the forests for their own well-being, their own forest bathing.

The more people we have in the Forests sharing them, the less likely they will be taken away from us. A forest of people in them is also a forest of voters in them ... the currency of continuation of elected representatives and policy makers careers.

By being in the Forests often, for our benefit for our moments of time among the cycles of nature I feel is the best 'Protest' we could make against the linear thinking of those who want to take them away from us.

I believe that breathing and absorbing the forest is more powerful 
than any banner or placard could be.

You can always click here to message/email me


  1. I'm here for the first time and like this informative blog. What I don't like, and this is by no means the only page where I have voiced my displeasure, is the fact that it seems to be totally anonymous. There must be people behind it, living beings with a body and soul and a lot of passion for woodlands. It escapes me why they are hiding their names.
    I have,love and enjoy woodland.I'm expressing this publicly and have no problem whatsoever to put my name under this.
    Richard Auler

  2. Richard, many thanks for bringing up a very important point. What you speak of is something that actually frustrates me, and here I am doing that very thing.

    Some of this is due to the infancy of this web site, blog and pages, and perhaps as all kinds of people are involved in this I try and hold back a bit of modesty, but indeed these pages should soon become a stage of the names involved in this.

    Probably somewhere our names are revealed.

    Anyway, for something immediate, I am John Willmott, who founded this. I am in my 60s, and have a background in all kinds of things as I come from a family who were involved in a collection of divination, herbal, holistic and shamanistic interests. My main paths have been in performance, herbalism, stone masonry and forestry conservation. Of those the stone masonry is way behind me.

    Other names that are very active in this work are Bee Smith, Tony Cuckson, Edward Durand, Deirdre Wadding, and the list then expands, and hope will expand more rapidly.

    Shortly I will put the names and faces in context here. Thanks again for reminding me Richard.

    1. If I may add a thought: I'm reminded that established estates have plans for planting designated fields as TREES rather than, for example, haying meadows, or food-stuffs. An "extra" pleasure might be to visit some of the libraries of,or books about, e.g., Capability Brown[e]'s designs --- and eventually include an enouragement to land holders to be reminded that they too might give thought to such designs.
      A documentary on PBS showed how industrious and busy is HH Prince Phillipe as an "estate planner and manager". [[not that simple, but so cheering to follow the documentary ]].
      Good Luck, and Best Wishes, Kathleen Hambleton Bryant

    2. Many thanks for your very interesting input Kathleen.

      Our own activities are focused on encouraging more people into more public access woods of Ireland more often Together we share words that are our own and our favourite plus share picnics with as much local food included as possible.

      We do also add some elements of Green Prescription and this year there should be more shared in the direction of the Japanese Shrinrin Ypku, Forect Bathing, but more as our own developing tradition.

      It is good news that estates are doing more planting and some of them do allow public access, or have a nominal use fee, or have various open days. We are approached from time to time for consideration.

      The encouragement to landowners and tree planting is well represented by other wonderful organisations such as the Native Woodland Trust and the Tree Council. We do support them when we can though support is a bit minimal at present as we still have a big job getting more people into the woods first.

      The UK Royal Family examples are not very relevant to what we do, though this would have a strong influence on the reason there are many public access woodlands in the northern counties compared to the Republic's 26 counties.

      When we are more established in future years, I think I will be coming back to your posts here Kathleen, many thanks.


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