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offers courses in environmentally-friendly, sustainable, natural building and design. Specialising in earth construction (cob) and salvaged timber, our aim is to help you build, extend or renovate your home using natural, healthy and ecologically sound materials and methods. Building with cob will give you the freedom to sculpt your home, making it full of your personality while having a very low impact on the environment.

We offer the following services:


Natural Building and Design Workshops

One-to-One Advice for Self-Build Natural Building Projects

Architectural Services - Design, Planning, Building Control and Site Inspections

On-Site Training for Self-Build Work Crews

Consultations on the Conservation of Vernacular Buildings

Natural Edge Wood Furniture Commissions


was founded in 2011 by husband-and-wife team Colin Ritchie and Féile Butler. A carpenter and an architect, Colin and Féile have been involved with cob building since 2005. In 2011, they completed their 3-bedroom cob-and-timber-frame family home in the north-west of Ireland. All courses are taught in grounds of their experimental and inspirational home, or in the house itself. They are located about half way between Sligo and Ballina on the N59 in Co. Sligo.

Feile Butler

Féile Butler is an architect based in Sligo, who graduated with honours from the School of Architecture in Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street in 1997 and became an member of the R.I.A.I. (Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland) in 2001. Having lived and worked as an architect in Dublin, London, Sydney, Adelaide and Queenstown, New Zealand, her experience in the southern hemisphere exposed her to a vast range of alternative materials and building technologies which, in turn, sparked her interest in sustainable design. On her return to Ireland in 2004 she worked with a leading sustainable architecture practice in Sligo for four years.

In 2005, Féile and her husband, Colin, trained in the art of cob (earth) building with the Cob Cottage Company. The following year, they attended the School of Natural Building in Coquille, Oregon, run by Cob Cottage. In 2008, they embarked on building their own 130m² hybrid cob-and-timber-frame home. The house, completed in 2011, was built from soil excavated on site and over 80% of the other building materials were salvaged.

Gaining her Conservation Architect Grade III Accreditation from the R.I.A.I. in 2009, she has since advised on the repair of a number of 150+ year old mud-walled and earth-bonded cottages and is listed on the Irish Georgian Society's Register of Traditional Building Skills.

Féile set up her own practice, Roots Architecture, in 2009 which now focuses on one-off new-builds, extensions and renovations using natural building materials. She also specialises in the conservation of vernacular buildings, with a particular interest in their earth-based components.

She became a director of Earth Building UK in 2014. Ireland formally joined Earth Building UK and Ireland in July 2015. To celebrate, Féile co-organised Ireland's inaugural Earth Building Day in November of the same year. The event was a huge success. She went on to organise MudFest during Heritage Week 2016 where the public attended earth-based workshops in 7 different counties across Ireland.

Féile presented a paper on Earth Building in Ireland at Terra 2016 in Lyon, a conference attended by 800 earth building practitioners and academics from all around world.

Féile has run natural building and design workshops with Colin since 2010 at the Mud and Wood House, as well as private workshops for school children, college students, conservation practitioners and numerous community group.

Colin Ritchie

Colin Ritchie is a carpenter by trade, having completed his apprenticeship under his father in 1987. Originally from Scotland, he moved to Ireland 1999. He has also worked in Australia and New Zealand. While renovating old stone cottages, he became interested in natural-edged woodwork. He is a connoisseur of timber and collects windfall trees from the surrounding region to provide him with his raw materials. He is a true craftsman when it comes to wood.

In collaboration with Féile, his wife, he began building their 130m² cob-and-timber-frame house in 2008. Colin made many of the components from scratch: milling up windfall trees to make door frames, door leafs, window boards, stairs, kitchen units; mixing cob; making earth plasters. He is an expert at sourcing and salvaging materials, often for little or no cost.

Colin has worked locally in the northwest for over 15 years, tackling projects from the renovation of traditional cottages to the construction of church roofs. He also works at a smaller scale, repairing/replacing components of heritage windows, crafting individual doors, or constructing stairs to exact specifications. He specialises in creating bespoke storage solutions in any type of space, no matter how awkward.

His love of natural edged wood also translates into a collection of unique and beautiful furniture, ranging from coffee and dining room tables to shelving units to children’s chairs.

Colin has run numerous natural building and furniture-making workshops at the Mud and Wood House. His clients for private workshops include:

  • Sligo Grammar School
  • Louth Creative Spark Craft Mark
  • Active Retirees Group
  • Burmese Refugee Group
  • Skreen Dromard Playschool
  • High Park National School
  • Doras Bui Lone Parenting Group
  • Kilglass Community Garden
  • Clayfest 2015 Scotland
  • The Organic Centre
  • Irish Georgian Society Heritage Show
  • Forthill Historical Society
  • Letterkenny IT
  • Earthsong Camp

In December 2015, Colin travelled to The Jungle Refugee Camp in Calais to build a women and children's community centre. Sadly, the camp is no more ... and not because the refugee crisis has been solved.

Féile Butler

Colin Ritchie