A nature walk in Cladagh Glen – Fermanagh

^1A57165DCE87B458BF32BA66B4880E9D5A61CF21FB9CE1B8BD^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrLast Friday us volunteers went for a nature walk in Cladagh Glen Walk, located in Co. Fermanagh. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day and we had a great time!

It was a good opportunity to see some of the Irish spring flowers, such as bluebells and primroses, and surprisingly for me: wild garlic! Never heard about it, in my entire life! But, is very tasty and incredible beautiful! There was wild garlic all over Cladagh Glen. It changes the landscape, for sure, after 3 months of rain and clouds, all over Ireland. The green forest is being transformed by the spring colours, mainly blue (bluebells) and white (wild garlic) and is very impressive! Slowly we are getting the summer spirit! Longer nights, brighter days, colour and energy!

Wherever I go in Ireland, my reaction is always the same: “Wow! I don’t have words to describe this landscape!” In Cladagh Glen I had, again, one of those moments. Even me, from the Azores, I can say that I saw the most beautiful landscapes of my life in Ireland.

I never took so many beautiful pictures, as in Ireland. My family and friends are amazed with the Irish landscape and culture, and so am I.For me, the most beautiful scene was the Cascades waterfall. So stunning!  And of course a nice place for a group picture!


But now, a bit of culture and curiosities:

  • Claddagh Glen

Claddagh Glen takes its name from the Cladagh river, which rises from Marble Arch Caves, below Cuilcagh Mountain. It is also part of the Marlbank National Nature.

  • Marble Arch Caves

It was a French cave explorer Edouard Alfred Martel, accompanied by a young Dublin born scientist named Lyster Jameson, who first ventured into the darkness of the cave in 1895.

  • Maggie’s Hole

The legend goes that a local young girl, called Maggie Duffy, was running down from the mountain and across the arch when she fell through the hole and into the river below. She was wearing wide, voluminous skirts, which opened like a parachute so she floated downwards and lived to tell the tale.

  • Bluebells

They are not protected under international law, such as CITES or the EU Habitats Directive, but they are protected under UK law.

In the end, it was a lovely sunny afternoon, a good opportunity to explore Cladagh Glen’s landscape and forest, with some cultural moments and fun with the GEAI team.

Census 2016 – A French perspective

The Census took place on Sunday April 24th and forms were collected by enumerators. Like everyone in Ireland, the GEAI EVS volunteers filled in the form but two questions surprised me as a French man: ethnic origin and religion.


Dating back to the first surviving records in 1910, the question on a person’s religion is a long-standing in Ireland and it is not a problem for the Irish to answer this question. According to the Central Statistics Office “the results are becoming increasingly important in planning for schools, in understanding chaplaincy needs for marriage ceremonies and by the health services”.

Ethnic and cultural background

The question on ethnic or cultural background was first used in the 2006 census. People have choices between different ethnic backgrounds and can add their own if it was not included in the list. The decision to introduce this question has not been easy. “The format of the question was agreed following extensive consultation with various bodies such as the Equality Authority, Pavee Point and others” specifies the Central Statistics Office.

Better information about population origins

Obviously under Irish Equality Law, it is prohibited to discriminate in relation to employment, vocational training, advertising, collective agreements, the provision of goods and services on nine grounds, including a person’s race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins. These types of statistics are useful to lead social policy and immigrant integration policy such as social and living conditions, employment, occupation, education. There is a need and demand for this data because the massive arrival of new immigrant people is a recent phenomenon in the Irish history and the authorities just measure the composition and evolution of the population living in Ireland.


Phil Lynott

In France, collection of this data is impossible!

In France, the law can punish by 5 years’ imprisonment and €300,000 fine, the collection and recording of information on ethnic or religious affiliation of respondents. This ban was confirmed by the French Constitutional Council in 2007. For the French, answers to such questions is a real taboo, maintained by the universalist heritage of the French Revolution.

Consequently, France does not have official statistics to measure the population composition. This situation can cause some tensions. However, there are some groups who want ethnic background or religion accounting. Among their objectives is to know exactly the situation in France regarding social integration or work market access.

Problems for Ireland in the future

But how to describe the difference between ethnic groups? France is different to Ireland, having a large population of mixed race resulting from the integration of colonies in Africa and Asia. France also has many overseas territories. This cultural and social diversity puts huge obstacles in front of ethnic analysis of the French population.

Ethnic and cultural background is easy to describe for people living in Ireland because immigration is recent. But in a few decades, how will one respond to this question if born in a mixed race family? The family cultural background will be totally Irish but they could have a black or Asian ‘appearance’. A future debate.

Cédric Stanghellini, EVS Erasmus+ Volunteer,



September brought changes at GEAI. The 3 volunteers who had been working with us for the past year, Irina, Santi and Olga, finished their time. So, we said good bye to them and welcomed their successors!

Two of the three volunteers arrived on Friday 4th September and went straight to work helping at a local community event. It was exciting to get to know the young locals attending the Junior Disco!

For this next year GEAI will host Alice Dumitrache, from Romania and Cédric Stanghellini, from France, two students undertaking voluntary work under the European Voluntary Service (EVS) scheme which is supported by the European ERASMUS+ program and administered in Ireland by Leargas.

Alice, 26 years old, studied geography, says of herself: “I come from Bucharest. I have already studied overseas but I have never been in Ireland. I’m so exciting with this new experience”.

Cédric is 24 years old, and he is a law student from Lyon in France. He says: “This is my first trip to another country. Everything is new for me and I already like the warmth of the Irish people”.

Both individuals are sensitive to environmental issues, which will perfectly fit with the project goal of GEAI.

 Olga share her EVS experience with Alice and Cédric

Olga shares her EVS experience with Alice and Cédric!

On Saturday Alice and Cédric were introduced to Irish cuisine. Aedin prepared typical Irish recipes for the arrival dinner. Fish with cheddar sauce, carrots, broccoli and, of course, mashed potatoes. Nothing was missing on the table, and this was just the start!

GEAI are expecting a third volunteer, Irakli, from Georgia, who will arrive at the end of the month.

GEAI is delighted to welcome all our volunteers!


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