History and Development
Petersburg House was the ancestral home of a branch of the Lynch family of Galway. The family were granted land around the shores of Lough Mask under a policy of 'Surrender and Re-grant' and the 'Big House' was built in 1715.
One of the first Lynches to live on the estate was called Peter and he put his own stamp on the place by naming it Petersburg. There is no Russian connection!
The entire estate was eventually acquired by the land commission and was divided up (or striped) and allocated to local farmers. The Big House, grounds and Red Island (18 acres ) was signed over to Galway County Council, but without the resources or the flexibility to develop the estate it continued to deteriorate. In 1986 it was signed over to Galway Vocational Education Committee for the princely sum of £1 with the stipulation that it was developed as a leisure amenity for the people of the community and Galway County. In July 2013 Galway City VEC, County Galway VEC and Roscommon VEC amalgamated and are now Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board GRETB.
The decision to turn it into an outdoor education centre was an inspired one. Even if someone was setting out to choose a location for an outdoor centre they could hardly have chosen a better one. It is ideally located for land based and water based adventure activities as it is situated on the southern shore of Lough Mask with hills and forests all around it. The centre lies on the divide between sandstone/volcanic uplands and limestone lowlands. Caving is one of the activities offered, and the area is also important for geology and geomorphology. The centre has been developed in 3 phases.
- Phase one provided simple dormitory style accommodation, a kitchen and dining facilities.
- Phase two upgraded some of the accommodation, improved kitchen and dining facilities and provided a classroom and recreation room. All of the outhouses, barns and sheds were renovated in these two phases.
- Phase three developed what was the Big House into more up-market accommodation, a lecture room, recreation room, and separate dining and kitchen facilities. It created in a sense a second centre and concentrates more on the adult market, in particular with a concentration on Field Studies, Personal Development/ Team building, Adventure Activity Weekends and Outdoor skills training.