Energy Challenges and Solutions Conference

Last Thursday, 30th November 2017, a Conference on Current and Future Policy Energy Challenges and Solutions organised by Leitrim County Council was hosted at The Dock Arts Centre. The event gave good insights on the ongoing EU-funded SECURE Project – Smart Energy Communities, part of the Northern Periphery and Artic Programme 2014-2020, along with possible solutions needed for the energy transition in Ireland.

The conference kicked off with an introduction and welcome by Mr. Shane Tiernan of Leitrim County Council, followed by speakers such as Leo Strawbridge, Niall Kiernan or the DCCAE Principal Strategic Energy Policy, Martin Finucane. An explanation was given on the challenges that Ireland is facing and will continue to face over the next years as well as the wide range of technology we have at our disposal to fight against the climate change.

The talks included some international partners working on the SECURE project such as Kaija Saramäki (University of Applied Sciences, Finland) and Emma Norton (Nova Scotia, Canada). They shared with us policy energy measures in some regions around the world as examples of potential solutions to implement in the current Irish Energy System.

Illustration 1: Energy secure communities

Our volunteers Francesca (Italy) and Bruno (Spain) attended the event as GEAI delegation.  Paul Mc Nama from IT Sligo also gave a presentation on the NECS Project (Northwest Energy Community Start-up) carried out by IT Sligo and Good Energies Alliance Ireland in six local communities in Co Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal. The project was shown as an example of community engagement through activities such as door-to-door energy surveys, seminars and the World Café which stimulated interesting discussions. During the coffee break the volunteers had the opportunity to chat with different attendees and share views and opinions on the presented project.

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Sharing time!

At the beginning of September, our three EVS volunteers – Ingrid from France, Bruno from Spain and Francesca, who had just arrived less than two weeks before from Italy – were invited to the house of one of GEAI’s directors, Janice, for lunch.

Janice grows organic vegetables, fruits and flowers in her garden and in her polytonal in Co. Leitrim. She went with the volunteers to pick some of her vegetables and encouraged them to go foraging as well for some apples and blackberries in order to cook lunch all together. They cooked a vegetarian curry and crumble that they happily shared together. A great way for them to get a feel of the local horticulture and a taste of the Irish hospitality!

As one of the volunteers – Ingrid – is Vegan, the whole meal was cooked plant-based. It was surprisingly easy to make a blackberry and apple crumble suitable for everyone by simply replacing the cow milk butter by a vegetable oil based butter. Very easy and tasty as well!

Getting soaked by Glencar waterfall!

IMG-20170916-WA0016EVS volunteers in the Glencar waterfalls

Glencar waterfall is situated near Glencar Lake, west of Manorhamilton.  Its beauty served as an inspiration to the William Butler Yeats and features in his poem ‘The Stolen Child’.

After a long seminar session in Grange, on the return journey to Drumshanbo, the EVS volunteers took the time to travel down the valley to see the marvelous Glencar waterfall that can only be viewed after a short lovely wooded walk from the car park.

It is a lovely place, where you can enjoy of the waterfalls while you get the blow of the breeze. A pleasant loop turns around leaving you in the car park. There, another of the charms of the valley is the view of the fascinating Crockauns Mountains, a Natural Heritage Area.

A day on Cuilcagh mountain

IMG-20170913-WA0013                                           Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk and Lough Atona.

Cuilcagh mountain is a mountain on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. One Sunday morning I and the other EVS volunteers decided to go to Legnabrocky to do one of the walking routes on the mountain.

After almost 5 km of easy stony path, we went on a wooden boardwalk constructed over a very moist bog, followed by steps  that climbed through steep and stony terrain before reaching the summit.

The wooden path rises steeply and is difficult to climb if you are not in a good shape. Between breaks we enjoyed the scenic wilderness of Cuilcagh Mountain and breathtaking views of Lough Atona, a lake nestled at the foot of the mountain. We took lots of photos, the scenery at the summit is undoubtedly the main attraction of the trail.

Unfortunately, during the return route, a heavy rainstorm caught us by surprise when we were walking down the way. This is Ireland!

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