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!

Reduce your bill – join local sustainable community.

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Our Survey of Four Communities in Leitrim is done

Volunteers from GEAI finished surveys last week on how households get and use energy . Four towns were surveyed: Drumshanbo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballinamore and Carrigallen. 10% of houses in Drumshanbo (60), Carrick-on-Shannon (150), Ballinamore (50) were surveyed and 20% of houses in Carrigallen (25).

This energy survey is part of the Northwest Energy Communities Start-up project (NECS). The project is a part of the national plan for transition of communities all over Ireland to a low carbon economy, moving away from fossil fuels and using renewable energy resources.

The partners in this project are Good Energies Alliance Ireland and I.T. Sligo. The project is funded by SEAI – the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Basically the NECS project is researching how people, in selected towns, use energy and how much it costs them. GEAI and IT Sligo prepared questionnaires for each town.  The questions were about type of houses, heating systems, heating control systems and most importantly, questions about energy bills.

After all the information is analyzed, GEAI and IT Sligo will organize an Exhibition Day in each surveyed town to give the results of the surveys and plan how residents could have warmer, more comfortable homes while costing them less on fuel and heating.

After the project, each town can be registered as a  (SEC) with the SEAI.  The SEC programme gives grants to make homes more energy efficient and warmer through more insulation, better windows, solar panels and upgrading boilers, for example.

Form volunteers perspective.

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For the GEAI volunteers it was a unique experience.

“We were knocking on doors and asking questions. This experience helped to train our communication skills, flexibility, teamwork and many other skills.”

The volunteers worked 2 days per week in the evening from about 5 pm till 8:30 pm. They were supported by local volunteers in each town, so that people were happy to answer questions.

“We came across different situations, different people’s reactions. The vast majority of people were nice to us and they were glad to help us.  They were also interested in reducing their energy bills!”

How history was made in front of our eyes as we went to the Dail to witness the vote to ban fracking

After six years of campaigning against fracking in Ireland, GEAI members finally saw the impact of their action and of the commitment of the many people who joined the fight. On Wednesday the 31th of June, between 10am and 12am, TDs gathered in the Dail to unanimously agree on banning Fracking from Ireland. And GEAI members were there to witness it.

Aedin McLoughlin, Liam Breslin, Eddie Mitchell and two of our EVS volunteers drove to the Dail to see it happen with their own eyes. It was a great opportunity for our European volunteers to discover for the first time Ireland’s political institutions and system. Ingrid – our French volunteer – had been with us for almost four months but it was her first time in the Dail whereas Bruno – our brand new volunteer from Spain – got to witness this event on his very first day in Ireland!

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As the discussion went on about the several amendments, Aedin explained who were the different politicians speaking and the parties they were from so that the volunteers would be able to understand what was happening, especially when the matter of whether or not offshore shale gas exploitation should be included in the ban or not was brought on.

The EVS volunteers thought it was thrilling to see the actual arguments and votes go on in front of their eyes as well as discovering the building where it took place and meeting people committed to the same cause as them. They shared the excitement of the room when the ban was finally voted five minutes before the meeting deadline.

Some people had a hard time sitting still while the clock was ticking, afraid that the ban would not be voted in time and that the vote would have to be rescheduled. The volunteers shared this concern as well as the general relief of the ban being finally agreed on at the last minute. Then they could enjoy joining the celebration of everyone involved in the matter.

This is a day they will remember all their life, and same goes for all the people concerned about Fracking, in Ireland and beyond.

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EVS experience: Biodiversity Trek at Lough Boora Parklands

   From the 19th to the 28th of May, Biodiversity was celebrated in Ireland through about 50 events forming our National Biodiversity Week. All over the country, environmental organisations offered free family-friendly events in order to regenerate the link between People and Nature as well as reminding us how much our wildlife and flora are precious and how we could – should – learn to protect them from the many threats opposed to them.  

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   On the 27th of June, two of our EVS volunteers went to Lough Boora Parklands, county Offaly, to participate in a Biodiversity Trek organised by the Irish Wildlife Trust; a conservation charity committed to raise awareness about our local natural heritage and which is in charge of numerous natural reserves; one of them being in Lough Boora Parklands.

  Kieran Flood – Conservation Officer for the Irish Wildlife Trust – was their guide for the day. During an approximately three hours walk, they learned about different types of plants, flowers and animals. They learned what a bog is, how it is formed and what wildlife can develop there.

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  They learned that common flowers like “Birds-foot trefoil” (Lotus Corniculus) are good for butterflies to lay their eggs on, that there about twenty different species of bumblebees in Ireland which hibernate during winter, that Yew trees (Taxus Baccata) are Ireland’s most ancient growing trees, that their seed is toxic and their berries are poisonous but that their evergreen property and their impressivDSC_0387e longevity (they usually can reach between 400 and 600 years of age) make them symbols of eternal life and thus are often planted in cemeteries…

 

 

 Our two volunteers were delighted to learn those facts and many more as to witness Irish biodiversity wealth by laying their eyes on wild orchids, a red squirrel, a parasite wasps’ nest…

   The Irish Wildlife Trust and GEAI are both part of the Environmental Pillar (a network of national environmental organisations in Ireland). Our volunteers were delighted to meet another Irish environmental NGO and they came back to work more enthusiastic than ever about protecting Irish Biodiversity.

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All the photographs featured in this post have been taken by our EVS volunteer
Katsiaryna Trusova

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