June article for the Clare People – The Green Agenda

The Green Agenda… struggles to its feet …


With these Summer days one’s attention can drift out of doors and take more notice than usual of the world of nature.  Living in such a gorgeous part of the world, there is real temptation to take for granted the beauty that surrounds us.


The green agendaseems to be taking on a quality of ubiquity these days, not only with the door of Ennis Cathedral going green, but with the ecological protests of young people, with the recent election results along with the publication of the Government plan to tackle climate change.  Green is now the in-colour.  Green it seems is the only game to play.


Perusal of the government plan to tackle climate change proposes increased taxes and levies along with a focus on homes, heating, electricity, transport, agriculture and much more.  As the commentators remark – a plan is one thing, but what happens in the next budget is another and where the rubber hits the road to use an environmentally unfriendly image!


Recently on a pastoral visit to a primary school in the Ennis area, I did my home work in advance and found out much about the school from their excellent website. I asked the assembled students what the school motto was, knowing that it was “mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí”. One of the junior infants blurted out with confidence and passion “don’t trash where you splash”.  The previous day they had a day on the care of the oceans and even the junior infants were all fired up with care for the environment.  From the lips of children and of babes…  This agenda is not going to go away.  Listen anyone who has ears to hear


For quite some time Clare people have had a keenly developed consciousness in this area with the preservation of the unique landscape, flora and fauna of the Burren, the precious sand-dunes in West Clare, along with the oustanding coast-line of the Wild Atlantic way.  The eco-village in the Eastern part of the diocese in Cloughjordan has been pioneering in this way for quite some time.


Care for the environment, no more than many moral issues takes on an extra impetus and motivation when supplemented from the religious point of view.  This religious view motivates to focus not just on heavenly things, but to look out for each other as well as the preservation of the God-given gift of the earth for future generations.


In the Irish faith tradition we look to the early celtic spirituality of Patrick, Brigid, Colmcille, their love for the splendour and beauty of creation.  On an international level this theme reaches it’s highpoint in the middle ages in the example of St. Francis of Assisi in the way he linked the love of the poor with the environment and animal kingdom.  This theme was recently engaged to great effect by his name sake Pope Francis in his much praised document Laudato Si.


And yet even with that extra religious push, knowing it is the way to go intellectually – it still bites when real action to improve the situation is demanded:

  • In motoring terms I recently made the transition from diesel to hybrid, but lack the courage to go the whole-hog and embrace the pure EV!
  • When I return from my run with the Clare Crusaders the single use water bottle is just too convenient to consider an alternative.
  • I still can’t go past the pollinator-friendlyroundabouts in Ennis without cynically thinking it’s an excuse for being too lazy to mow the lawn!
  • Obtrusive windmills that spoil the aesthetics of the beautiful landscape sometimes get the thumbs down, even though they produce clean and renewable energy.
  • One is advised to divest in fossil fuel investments, but astute financial advice says they are the most profitable.
  • Would I vote for a government that will increase the price of the bale of briquettes that I enjoy on a cold Winter night?


Much demanding metanoia, a change of heart! The urgent challenge is to change the mind-set and chose the many shades of green available! Knowing it’s the way to go doesn’t make it easy, but I think great strides are being made in the right direction.