Empowering our community towards a sustainable and resilient future for Skerries.
Through Sustainable Skerries, we work towards improving resilience in the town of Skerries.
By resilience, we mean the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; the ability to bounce back.
We seek to build this through a focus on the systems of our town, as they relate to food, waste, water, energy, and skills sharing.
This can mean, on a practical level:
- contributing to waste reduction, e.g. through the promotion and support of composting;
- raising awareness around food issues, including the environmental and social impact of growing and / or purchasing food, food & transport (e.g. food miles), food waste, food citizenship and food security;
- promoting positive climate action – identifying effective and meaningful local actions and ways to have an impact in the national and international context;
- educating people of all ages through training and workshops both for the general public and in partnership with local schools (e.g. through TY projects)
- exploring possibilities for skills exchange, such as with those who have lived in pre-plastic times; through the running of Repair Cafés, other ways to capture those skills could also be found
- protecting and enhancing the local environment, including the support and improvement of the biodiversity of our town e.g. through the development of pollinator corridors and a survey of existing biodiversity
- exploring energy resilience for our area
- being a credible voice locally in the relevant local forums and in local media
In order to fulfil our goals, we are linking up with other local groups, such as the Skerries Community Association (of which we are a committee) and Skerries Tidy Towns, as well as with schools and local and national organisations and authorities (especially Fingal County Council).
We take the UN Sustainable Development Goals as our guidance and see the social and economic aspects of sustainability as important parts of sustainability.
Sustainable Skerries is a Transition Town initiative set up by local people in 2009 to work towards a more sustainable and resilient community. At the time of writing (April 2019) that makes us 10 years old this month. We are based in the coastal town of Skerries, Co. Dublin, Ireland.
Some of the problems anticipated 10 years ago remain the same: the spectre of Peak Oil and how we’re all going to survive when the oil runs out is one. Fortunately we are all beginning to see signs of hope on this front with the development of renewable energies, however painfully slow the change may be. Food miles, the sourcing of healthy local food and the reduction of road haulage are as much an issue then as they are now.
But there are other problems barely foreseen a decade ago: Global Warming, or at least awareness of it, was in its infancy; this was the domain of the brown bread and sandals brigade and other cranks and heretics. We’ve all come a long way in our thinking since then; today it would be difficult to find anyone who truly doesn’t believe in his or her heart that Global Warming is a fact, even if they’re sometimes not prepared to admit it.
Landfill was and still is an issue; plastic pollution wasn’t even considered back then; today it is a huge problem.
Loss of biodiversity is another. We all knew about tigers and pandas as children; we never thought that we might one day be worrying about insects. Yet Europe-wide insect populations are crashing as a result of industrial agriculture, mono-culture and the widespread use of pesticides. Birds and other wildlife suffer the knock-on effects as their food sources are obliterated. We could manage without tigers or pandas (not that we want to!) but if the pollinators go, then quite frankly, we go with them.
Fortunately these are all issues which we can all play a part in addressing, and a bigger part than you might think. As an individual one can do very little, but it is when like minded people come together that change starts to occur.
It is no use relying solely on governments. Governments (including, or perhaps especially, our own) are notoriously slow to legislate for climate action; there are too many vested interests with an awful amount of money slowing them down. Change doesn’t just come from the top; it can, and has to, come from the ground up also.
Re-evaluating ones attitudes, making small changes in lifestyle, educating and encouraging others to do the same, this is where it all starts.
And that is what Sustainable Skerries is all about.
If you are interested in becoming involved you are very welcome, just email email@example.com and we’ll get back to you.
So what have the Romans (or Sust Skerries) ever done for us?
Sustainable Skerries founding fathers, all looking young, keen and eager to change the world.
From Left. Suzanne Jones, Mary Marsden (Treasurer), Andrew Plant, Frank Mc Keown (Chairman), Rosaleen Mc Minamin, Bronagh Ní Dhúill (Secretary), Alex Foy.
Sustainable Skerries’ first, and perhaps most successful, venture was the establishment of the allotments in conjunction with Fingal County Council. The process was begun in January 2010, lack of funding slowed progress, but the first plot holders were planting by March 2011. The allotments continue to go from strength to strength and there is a waiting list for people wishing to come in.
One unusual and commendable feature is the water system. A small stream bisects the allotments (photo above) and a solar powered pump was installed. This pumps water up to a holding tank at the top of the hill from whence it is gravity fed to water butts dotted around the plots. The upshot is that they are using renewable energy to provide water for their crops completely independent of the often faltering town mains supply. Indeed, there are times in the summer when the allotments have water for their plants and parts of Skerries have none to brush their teeth with.
In 2013 the Skerries Community Harvest Group was set up in conjunction with local organic farmer Paddy Byrne This meant that people with a taste for healthy food, but without the time or inclination to grow their own, could avail of weekly baskets of fresh organic produce.
The scheme ran very successfully for a number of years but has now finished, instead Paddy has opened a farm shop on site. Find him on the right half way up the hill from Barnageerah and before the entrance to Ardgillan. His free range eggs are highly recommended.
On a similar note: a chicken co-operative has been running for several years in the allotments and last year a group of allotment holders reared pigs for the first time. This year’s batch of weaners arrived yesterday.
In 2012 Sustainable Skerries won first prize in the Fingal Cleaner Communities awards for Best Environmental Initiative. This was in recognition of their work on the allotments, water conservation, the Community Harvest Group and general community resilience. A Merit Award for the allotments from the RDS followed in September of the same year.
We continue to organise seminars, workshops and discussion groups. Our most recent event was a Repair Cafe organised by the tireless Ernestine Woelger, a practical demonstration of needlework and fabric refurbishment. More such events are planned soon.
We are currently working with Fingal CC to remove plastic from the seaweed raked off the beach during the summer months and hope to host a bumblebee workshop in the coming weeks.
Watch this space!
Better still, join us at firstname.lastname@example.org