Sustainable Skerries 2019/20

Empowering our community towards a sustainable and resilient future for Skerries – that’s the mission of Sustainable Skerries. Together with other committees, groups, and individuals, we work towards improving resilience in the town of Skerries: that capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; that ability to bounce back. We seek to do this through a focus on the systems of our town, as they relate to climate change, food, waste, water, energy, and skills sharing.

For the last twelve months, that has meant:

Climate Change. Can you imagine that it was just a year ago that we hosted Afloat, the climate-change play by Sunday’s Child, in the Little Theatre? The play made us laugh, confronted us with many uncomfortable facts, and raised many questions about climate breakdown, climate anxiety and consumer guilt, friendship and the wider picture of the role of governments and big business. Thus a perfect start to our year!

Waste / Upcycling / Skill Sharing. Repair Cafés are all about skill transfer – people who know how to sew / mend clothes / fix things show those who would like to be able to do that. In October 2019 we were the proud recipients of a Fingal Greener Communities Award in the Up Cycling Category in recognition of our first Repair Café!  Our second Repair Café took place in the Little Theatre as well, in November 2019. As it was coming up to Christmas, seasonal crafts (Christmas cards, centrepieces made from nature, paper decorations and much more) were added to the upcycling of clothes and jewellery-making.

Further Repair Cafés had been planned for April and for later this year, but had of course to be cancelled. Pity. Watch out for our first online Repair Café over the next few weeks though! 

Biodiversity. Pollinators and especially bumble bees are central to biodiversity. Sustainable Skerries, in cooperation with Skerries Tidy Towns, has been able to obtain the funds to carry out a biodiversity study that will lead to a biodiversity plan for Skerries. The plan itself is in line with the National Pollinator Plan guidelines as run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) and is aimed at reversing the decline of pollinators in general, bumblebees in particular, and one specific species even more so.  To this end we wish to establish a wildlife corridor from the South Strand and allotments at one end to Barnageeragh at the other.  This is to be achieved by the establishment of wildflower meadows, reduction of pesticide and herbicide use, the rethinking of corners of mown grassland and a change of mowing regimes for roadside verges.  Much of this will depend on agreement with FCC as the largest landowner (we are told they are amenable but we are still waiting for a long promised site meeting), but it will also depend on the goodwill and support of the town as a whole.  We are working with Skerries Allotments to establish three areas of wildflowers around the site and have partnered with the Educate Together School to establish a meadow there.  Both expected to be seeded in the coming week or two.

Coincidentally, FCC are also in the process of establishing a wildflower meadow just out past the water treatment works.  All of this gives us a good solid backbone for our corridor; now we just need to join the dots. 

A Muscorum queen.

Did you know that there is a special bumble bee in Skerries which is the Large Carder Bee, Bombus Muscorum?  We have identified four areas in which it is to be found: South Strand, Allotments, Ballast Pit and a small population near Skerries Point.  This would appear to be way above the National average and puts us in a unique position to do something truly constructive by linking, protecting and extending these areas with our proposed corridor.

Oh, and our work for the Pollinator Initiative also fetched a Fingal Greener Communities award last October, in the Biodiversity category.

Trees. Sustainable Skerries, Skerries Tidy Towns, Crann Padraig and the Skerries Community Association got together to organise an event called “Two Tree Talks” with Éanna Ní Lamhna, The Irish Tree Council, and Kevin Halpenny, Head of Operations, Fingal County Council… for Thursday, 12 March. The day the WHO changed the status of Covid-19 to “pandemic”… Guess what? It had to be cancelled! We’re now hoping to bring it to you online, as Fingal County Council is gearing up towards drafting a new tree strategy. Look out for the announcement!

Food & Community. As it happens, the first Sustainable Skerries Global Feast was probably the last public event in the Old Schoolhouse before lockdown! Skerries people from more than a dozen different countries prepared food with an international twist – and some four dozen people came together to share a wonderful meal. This event, like some of the others we are organising this and next year, was made possible by a grant from the EU Communities Integration Fund. And it was also near-zero-waste, as everyone brought their own plates and cutlery, and brought home any food not eaten on the day. 

We of Sustainable Skerries were all set to plan more such global feasts, for all of Skerries of indeed at neighbourhood level – the situation being at it is, this has not yet happened, but it would be great if as many neighbourhood groups as possible could register on the Skerries Community Association’s list of neighbourhood / residents / street groups, so that when we can get going again, we can contact them easily! We have some great ideas already.

“Our Food, our environment, our health” was the title of a food-related event that took place online in May 2020. We had two fantastic speakers, Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School and our local green councillor, Karen Power, and after their input, there was plenty of opportunity for everyone to share their reactions, views and ideas. Read more about it here. Food for thought, indeed!

Our plans for the next 12 months include 

  • Offering online Repair Cafés with different themes, 
  • Supporting sustainable neighbourhood feasts
  • Exploring the possibility of Skerries becoming a Sustainable Energy Community
  • Continuing with our work on biodiversity & the pollinator action plan
  • Preparing the first Sustainable Skerries Food Festival for April / May 2021

You want to be in the loop? Keep in touch with us!

Sustainable Skerries Committee

Chair: Sabine McKenna
Treasurer: Ernestine Woelger
Secretary: Louise Ring

Contact: sustskerries@gmail.com

PS: We would like to bid a fond farewell to our previous chair, Mary Marsden, and to our former secretary, Brónagh Ní Dhúill. Both had been founder members of Sustainable Skerries, which means they were involved for a full decade. It’s difficult to give you an idea of their contributions over the years in a few short words… and we are grateful that they will remain involved in two initiatives that were kickstarted by Sustainable Skerries over the years, Skerries Allotments and Skerries Community Garden. Brónagh and Mary, you are missed! 

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