Why this recovering alcoholic is hosting a no-drink spiritual festival at his Cavan farm

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On Friday, Cavan farmer Gearóid Teevan’s first ‘Healing Bridges’ festival kicks off with performances by Pól Brennan from Clannad and Rónán Ó Snodaigh from Kila.

he festival is an extension of the healing retreats the organic farmer has held on his farm outside Milltown in recent years.

A severe alcohol addiction had left Gearóid in a dark place now, and now he seeks to help others live their best lives.

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Gearoid at Drummany Spirit

Gearoid at Drummany Spirit

He went to rehab more than a decade ago and credits his love of the land and nature with helping him stay sober.

Then in 2014 when he inherited a farm from his Uncle Jim, complete with lakes and woodland, he set about creating the ‘Drummany Spirit’ healing retreat for others seeking hope and of healing.

Gearóid, who also runs a construction business, had previously helped his uncle, who herded sheep on the smallholding.

He renovated the farm house and the family moved in two years ago. Since then, Gearóid has been raising sheep, growing hemp and potatoes, and building the retreat.

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Gearoid plants Finola hemp seeds with Michael Lynch


Gearoid plants Finola hemp seeds with Michael Lynch

Gearoid plants Finola hemp seeds with Michael Lynch

“Spiritual work during the year is about bringing groups to small events and gathering in a sacred place and understanding how powerful it is to connect with the earth,” he says.

Gearóid’s spirituality grew during his recovery from alcoholism over the past 12 years.

“When you’re deep in alcoholism, you always hope and pray for a breakthrough to help you,” he says. “I’m one of the lucky ones this happened to.

“There’s always a breaking point where your mind, body, and spirit are completely shattered, and that cry for help happened for me.”

He credits Sr Catherine Lillis of Tabor House in Navan with helping him with his recovery.

“I was basically reprogrammed. It’s still an inside job, no one can do it for you, but they can guide you, if you want to improve,” he says. “There is help and competent people there.”

Alcoholism, he says, became a problem for him in his late teens and early twenties, and he hit a turning point in April 2010 when his lows reached a new depth.

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Gearóid with the thatch he lovingly restored


Gearóid with the thatch he lovingly restored

Gearóid with the thatch he lovingly restored

” It’s progressing. But when you look back, you see the patterns and the issues that were coming at the door,” he says. “But you make excuses and you deny that the drink was the cause.

“It’s when you can’t have a drink and leave it, it’s when you have a problem and you end up in a fight or in a hospital or a prison cell.

“There has always been a common denominator for me and that was alcohol.”

The festival is drink- and drug-free, and the idea was conceived by musician Sean Mulrooney.

According to Gearóid, the festival will celebrate our connection to the land with ancient storytelling and plant gathering, as well as talks and workshops with spiritual elders from around the world.

“It’s a restorative festival and it’s totally family oriented as it’s drink and drug free which will make it a very safe space,” he says.

“I want to show people – without preaching – that they can have a good time without drinking or drugs.

“Reconnecting with nature while enjoying good music and good food can be so enjoyable.

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Gearóid and John McCormick planting potatoes


Gearóid and John McCormick planting potatoes

Gearóid and John McCormick planting potatoes

“Life has been so difficult for so many people during the pandemic, and it’s so important that we take care of our mental and spiritual health as well as our physical needs.”

The father-of-three says he truly believes his love of the land has helped him stay sober.

“I started building Drummany Spirit five years ago and now it regularly hosts yoga, music and sweat retreats,” he says.

“Hosting the festival is a dream come true. We stick to a maximum of 250 weekend tickets because we want it to be about quality, not quantity.

“We want it to be a welcoming and safe space for the whole family and there will be something for all ages.”

Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.fr

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