20th April: the 3 volunteers visited a sustainable farm in Fermanagh

James, a friend of GEAI presented us his farm, a different farm, where you can find a ‘little’ wind turbine, a big wood boiler and plenty of solar panels.

He was one of the first people around to install a wood boiler.

Buying wood is very expensive, that’s why I burn only my own wood that I plant in my fields and sometimes I use wooden waste like pallets”, says James.

He was a lucky though because his family owns some hectares of forest land and the wood that he cut is estimated to last between 5-8 years. Before to be useful, trees should grow up during 20 years minimum, that is the perfect age when the size is enough to burn it but not too large to be difficult to cut. Next step, wood must be dried in a hangar and after to be cut in logs fit for the boiler.

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The boiler has a 40 kW capacity and in the 10 years of use he only replaced 4 small parts.

We were amazed how huge the boiler was but also his house is big.

The wind turbine

Near to his farm, James decided to construct a small windmill as part of his master degree project. In this place, the wind in sufficient to rotate the palm. Inside the windmill, the system is easy: the rotary movement moves the electric generator. A power cable leads the electricity produced to the James’ house. “I chose this place for my windmill because here is the windier field of my farm. There are no land forms or forest around and it is not so far to my house but not too close to hear it” explains James. The energy produced is controlled by an electricity meter. The turbine is mostly active at night time and he uses the energy to charge his electric car.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

His car has a 60 miles autonomy, is not much but is good to go to work and back!

But James is very proud of his solar panels. He installed them almost one year before – 16m2  of solar with a 44 kW power and in a sunny day they would produce 3.5 units.

For him are a very good option and even in winter he can get some electricity despite the weather.

We were impressed with all that we saw, but we also understand that you have to have a passion for tinkering to be able to manage and maintain all that, he really like what he does and he is always looking for new ideas. Is a lot of work involved, of course, but Ireland, because of the climate, is a place where you have to be very resourceful and take in consideration many options for heating and electricity if you want to be sustainable and to save some money.

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Solar panels

17th-20st March: St.Patrick and the road trip

Me and Lisandra had awesome craic for Paddy Weekend!

We are part of Samboeire, a drumming band in Sligo and we took part in a parade in Kiltimagh for St. Patrick’s day. We were very Irish, parading on the streets of the lovely town of Kiltimagh. It was our first experience in a parade and we are very proud we had this opportunity. We were been playing bells and being in the front line of the group was not easy! All eyes on us, people filming and taking photos, definitely being a star is not an easy job ;).

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The parade was very cheerful and inventive, I was impressed by people’s imagination. Most of the groups parading had the 1916 Rising theme, since this year is the centenary of the most important moment in Irish history. But we also had…Donald O’Trump! And the Pope…and dancing nuns!0168726867fbf2332e3746e0a1c4c7ec98b0d6966e

We ended up having a pint in the local pub and then we hit the road to…Galway!! Just after realising we lost the car keys but they were found and returned to us…a bit of adrenaline… 🙂 :D.

We planned a little road trip that made us appreciate even more the natural beauty of Ireland.

You can see on the map our route and most the pins have also photos from the places we’ve been.

Day 2 started in Galway with a morning walk in the city and then we went a famous part of Ireland: The Burren and Cliffs of Moher. As always, I am lucky having wonderful weather, not a trace of clouds in the sky!

Driving through the Burren taught us about the karstic landscape of county Clare, the name “Burren” comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place and it is indeed very much like that because of the exposed limestone. This same rock gave to the landscape the wonder of the Aillwee Cave, one of the oldest caves in Ireland, amazing formations and alongside the wall a surprise waterfall sprayed us!

At the Cliffs of Moher we had a long coastal walk with many stops for pictures, it was breathtaking and is very hard to comment about what was there! The dramatic cliffs in the sunshine are imposing and making their way to your heart and mind.

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Saturday was a day dedicated to the Wild Atlantic Way, going on the coast and enjoying the landscapes, having a picnic on a beach with turquoise waters and foraging for …limpets! Lisandra, told us about the limpets, called lapas in Portuguese that she would take from the rocks in the Azores and cook them. So, she felt at home managing to get the limpets and in the evening we cooked them with garlic and butter, it was awesome!!

We passed by Roundstone, and Clifden, a lovely coast town, Cleggan and ended up in the heart of Connemara – Letterfrack and enjoyed a sunset on a little peninsula, Tullycross.

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Day 4 started with a hike in the Connemara National Park. We made it to the top of Diamond Hill and the view was extremely rewarding. After, we drove around Ireland’s only Fjord, Killary not being able to talk, astonished and overwhelmed of it all. Sunday’s picnic was on the sides of the Ashleigh Waterfall and we continued to the “lost beach” of Mayo, Silver Strand. We wanted to see the sunset but it was cloudy…good weather coming to an end at the same time with as our trip. But instead of watching the sunset we found more limpets and ended up home, cooking them and ending properly our amazing days.

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Ireland is an amazing country, I knew it before coming here and before going on this road trip but those days were as beautiful as only I could have imagined. Both me and Lisandra love being close to the water, we have a special relation with the sea/ocean and being on the Wild Atlantic Way meant a lot.

Many thanks to our amazing friend, Del that drove us this week end to the best places!

Alice

1st March: Goodbye Irakli!

“-Irakli,  what do you want to drink?

Guinness! A pint of Guinness! ”

“-Irakli,  are you having porridge again?”

“Yes.”

“But you had porridge already this morning!”

“I know, I know…”

There are some things that me and my colleagues will always remember about Irakli.  I say that because now he’s back home in Georgia. His EVS time with us ended and we said goodbye with a little party at the Chinese restaurant near us.  We relished exotic food and Irish stout remembering moments together and telling stories.

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We had a nice and interesting time together learning from each other. For sure Irakli taught us to be more patient and that it is worthwhile to be kind and good.

He was always curious about the culture and to find out how people think.

A big fan of Guinness, he was always in the mood for going to the pub.

Among his favorite stuff was the traditional Irish black pudding and also the porridge! Maybe sometimes together…well…we all have our weirdnesses in the house and he was no exception.

We now know more about Georgia, we know that Katchapuri needs special cheese to do it properly and we recognise the good quality of Georgian wines.

We are happy that we had time together but also that he went back home happy and full of hope.  Now Irakli is settling back home and we keep in touch, eager to hear about his future plans.

 

 

EVS Volunteers at Hustings debate

Saturday 13th February GEAI attended a political debate organised by Love Leitrim. It was an opportunity for Sligo/Leitrim Constituency’s candidates to express their position on fracking. The Irish General election will take place in two weeks and the electorate hopes for an engagement from candidates to ban hydraulic fracturing once elected.

GEAI members was accompanied by three EVS volunteers: Olga, Lisandra and Cédric. A perfect occasion for them to follow the electoral campaign.

With this Election and the Vote Frack Free campaign I started my EVS in a very interesting time. Saturday’s meeting was amazing and now I follow its impact during this campaign” declared Lisandra. “It was my first time to a political debate in Ireland and it was a great opportunity for me. Last year in Azores I was a member of a political party and Saturday I could compare the Irish political system with the Portuguese”.

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Cédric, Olga, Lisandra and Aedin

 

30th January: MIDWAY TRAINING, AN OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT

Last week-end Cédric, our French volunteer, took part in his EVS midway training.
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Cédric presenting GEAI

During three days in Dublin, 20 European volunteers were at a training organised by Léargas which was an important time for each volunteer because everybody could share their opinions, experiences – good or bad – and find with the trainer ideas for the second part of the EVS. Different workshops allowed volunteers describing their experience in Ireland, during their work and how they could use their new competences for future life or simply for the rest of the year. Cédric was really interested to compare the differences and similarities between the volunteers.

 

Cédric said “I didn’t realise that I am already in the middle of my time in GEAI because with the “Stop the Study Campaign” and now “Vote Frack Free Pledge” the work is intense. I’m really glad because I’m learning a lot of things that I didn’t expect, for example the organisation of a public meeting, awareness raising environmental issues and life with my colleagues who come from different countries.”

Cédric is now planning life after EVS: “During this 6 month in GEAI I can confirm my passion for journalism but I need to improve more my English”. When we asked him where he would like to live after, he answered “I don’t think I will return to France, because my experience in a foreign country gave me the desire to travel again. Why not stay a second year in Ireland? I visited some places and I have to confess Irish life and culture seduces me more every day.” Well done Cédric! In fact, he has visited Wicklow Mountains, Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Cliff of Moher, The Burren, Galway, Aran Island, Connemara, Killary Harbour, Strandhill beach and Dublin. “I haven’t gone to Cork or Donegal, these trips should be next!”

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