Sanctuary in Nature & Heritage

Sanctuary in Nature & Heritage is an initiative that aims to provide a place of sanctuary through Irish natural landscapes, wildflowers, and wildlife, and built heritage and cultural sites, for people new to Ireland.








“I was very pleased to get to know some very wonderful natural reserves and heritage places in Ireland through Sanctuary in Nature and Heritage. You are doing a wonderful job. I truly appreciate your great efforts. All thanks to both of you.”
Hashem, Syria

We seek to use the natural world both as a meeting point for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and Irish people, and as a refuge from the stress and tedium often inherent in the  predicament of those in ‘direct provision’.  There is compelling evidence worldwide that direct contact with nature is vital for physical and mental health, and that engagement with local historical and cultural heritage assists immigrants to understand the society in which they have come to live. It is also clear that pleasurable informal contacts between immigrants and citizens breaks down barriers, dissolves fears, resolves misunderstandings and contributes to building a vibrant society that is both diverse and harmonious.

The project offers participants opportunities to enjoy and learn about Irish wildlife, wildflowers, landscapes, and historically and culturally significant architectural and archaeological heritage. Because we see the project as an exchange between equals, we also stress the opportunity it gives participants to inform Irish people about nature and heritage in their home countries. A very important by-product is the informal socialisation between individuals and small groups, in a relaxed context in beautiful settings, and over picnic lunches and refreshments.




If you would like to join an event, volunteer, donate or if you have any feedback or questions we would love to hear from you!

Leave a message below and Paddy or Muhammad will get in touch with you shortly.

Paddy Woodworth

Paddy Woodworth is an author, environmental journalist and lecturer, writing frequently for The Irish Times and other media. In 2017, Paddy founded this project as Sanctuary in Nature, and in 2019 Muhammad joined him as co-organiser, adding ‘and Heritage’ to the title. 


Muhammad Achour

Muhammad Achour is a Syrian architect who believes that Art and Design are twin vehicles to make life better and more beautiful. He studied architecture in Aleppo, Syria graduating in 2007, and now works at DCU.

Recent news

Bird watching and Apple Fest – By Paddy Woodworth

The fifth Sanctuary in Nature excursion took place on Sat Oct 20, and was rated a big success by all who took part. This excursion was a first in several ways: We had two partners and we had grant aid