Could you Suggest how we Might ‘Re-imagine Co Monaghan’s Future’?

Calling all artists and musicians, activists and pacifists, school teachers and shopkeepers, grandparents and young people, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, GIY enthusiasts and farmers and as many imaginative, creative Monaghan people as possible to come alone and create the best fun inspiring and uplifting event Monaghan will see in 2016!

Transition Monaghan is seeking your views on how we can re – imagine Monaghan’s future to 2116, and so ensure that our county has the resilience to deal with the environmental, social and economic challenges of the 21st century. We are holding a brainstorming event on Saturday, 7 November, from 11am to 1pm in The Market House, Monaghan. People of all ages, backgrounds and interests are being invited to come along and express how best we can address the challenges and opportunities that face us in the next 100 years. The ideas generated will help us plan an exciting event next year as part of Monaghan County Council’s 1916 Commemorations. The event in 2016, entitled, ‘Re – Imagining Monaghan’s Future’ will feature a number of sessions, whereby artists, musicians, poets, story tellers, academics, and many more will express their views on what Monaghan could and should look like in a hundred years time.

If you are interested in writing a poem about climate change, a drama about the importance of community or a song about growing your own veg (as examples of some possible ideas!) then we why not come along to our brainstorm on Saturday, 7 November. The session, which is free to attend, will be facilitated by Dara Mac Gabhann, who is well – known from her work in Monaghan Community Forum and various arts and cultural organisations.  Tea and coffee will be provided.  If you have queries / ideas, please contact or call Mícheál on 086 865 2724. For information on Transition Monaghan see our Facebook page or our website


Defying age – related stereotypes, over 120 people of all ages, attended the highly successful Climate Justice Conference on Friday last, organised by Monaghan U3A (University of the Third Age). The conference, entitled ‘What will we tell the children when they start to ask us why?’ focused on the intergenerational elements of climate change. This refers to the fact, that carbon emitted into the atmosphere remains there for hundreds of years, so unless we take radical action now, those who are not yet born will suffer the worst effects of climate change.

A number of very interesting speakers outlined the scientific, moral, ethical, cultural and political elements of climate change. Theologian and Columban priest, Fr. Seán McDonagh referred to the Pope’s recent encyclical on climate change (Laudato Si’) as “the most important document from the Church in my lifetime”. Fr McDonagh expressed his belief that each diocese should set up a Synod to address the issue of climate change. He quoted the Pope’s strong words about our planet “starting to look more and more like a big pile of rubbish”, and he challenged the notion that human – beings have ‘dominion’ over the Earth.

Two particularly interesting guests were Sigurd Reimers of Grandparents for a Safe Earth and Elizabeth Vezina of the North American Raging Grannies. They are ‘older’ activists who campaign in various ways on climate change and other environmental issues. Sigurd Reimers describes how Grandparents for a Safe Earth engage in peaceful demonstrations, occupy banks and take part in colourful and creative marches and actions. He spoke of the need to be aware of the emotional element of climate change, in particular, as it can lead to feelings of helplessness and frustration. The Raging Grannies, also partake in various colourful direct actions, by conveying their message through song, dance and marches. Perhaps their contributions will inspire some of the attendees to set up similar organisations in Co. Monaghan?

Other speakers at the event included Professor John Barry (Queen’s University), Dr Lorna Gold, (Trócaire) Dr. Frank McGovern (EPA), Paul Nolan (Met Eireann) and Oisín Coughlan (Friends of the Earth). There were also contributions from Young Friends of the Earth, Age Action and Linking Generations (Northern Ireland). One of the key messages to come from the conference was the need to stress to politicians the importance of strong, meaningful emission reduction targets. This is a message with which Transition Monaghan would agree.

Postscript: This week we hear that gigantic fires in Indonesia, that have been intentionally lit,  are  out of control and will make global warming even worse. It points to the urgent need for a concerted effort, by all of us, to use the last opportunity we have to avert the oncoming climate crisis.


Pictured at the U3A Climate Change Conference in Monaghan were members of Friends of the Earth and Transition Monaghan: (left to right) Sydney Weinberg, Heather Mason, Oisin Coughlan, Mícheál Callaghan, Meaghan Carmody, Liam Murtagh, Charlie Barker and Conan Connolly.

Budget 2016 is not ‘Future-Proof’, say Environmental Organisations

Will Budget 2016 help in preparing Ireland for the low carbon / low energy future that is needed to deal with climate change, now regarded by many scientists as the greatest threat facing humanity? An Taisce says that in the Budget there is no overarching vision to dramatically transform our transport, housing, energy and agriculture sectors towards genuine sustainability or serious investment in adaptation to the projected impacts of climate change. One measure that was welcomed by An Taisce was the move to commit extra funding to the ‘Better Homes’ Programme as a start in improving the efficiency of our total housing stock but the organisation says that there is much more to be done.

Charles Stanley Smith, spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar a coalition of 28 Irish national environmental NGOs said: “The stabilisation of Ireland’s finances in recent years has been commendable but it will count for little if we fail to prepare our communities and businesses for future shocks. Ireland’s commitments around climate change mean that we must prepare now for a low energy world now. We need a new type of politics which moves away from the shortsightedness of the five year electoral cycle and works to deliver a better Ireland for our children and theirs.”

The Environmental Pillar welcomed plans to substantially increase the development of new housing as necessary given the current housing crisis. However it is calling on the Government to build this new wave of housing stock to passive house standard as it will “mean that that those living in these new houses will benefit for many years to come from low energy bills”.

On environmental protection, the Environmental Pillar says that the Government missed another important opportunity to fund the protection of Ireland’s environment through investing in the Environment Fund. A huge amount of environmental protection measures, such as recycling initiatives, litter and waste enforcement, pollution monitoring, and wildlife conservation, are paid for from the Environment Fund. In the last three years the revenue into the fund has fallen by a third from roughly €65m to and estimated €43m. In the coming years the fund, which draws from the plastic bag tax and the landfill levy, is expected to fall further. To prevent serious environmental impacts from the diminishing fund the Environmental Pillar says that is essential that the Government commit further funding to the fund and that this should have happened in Budget 2016.

 How do you Imagine Monaghan’s future to 2116?

What do you think are the big challenges that we in Co. Monaghan will face in the next 100 years? What sort of county would you like to live in in 2116? As part of Monaghan Co. Council’s 1916 commemorations, Transition Monaghan will be organising an event entitled ‘Re – Imagining Monaghan’s Future’.  With the broad theme of sustainability in mind, we will host an interactive, fun and thought – provoking day of workshops along this theme, with a strong arts, cultural and action planning focus. In order to put together an event which is of interest to as many people as possible, we are inviting members of the community to have their say on what type of workshops or content interest them. We invite anyone who would be interested to attend a planning workshop on Saturday, 7 November, from 11am to 1pm in the Market House, Monaghan. Ideas and suggestions put forward will help us shape the final event. We are keen to ensure that our 2016 event is inclusive and reflects the diversity of groups, talents and viewpoints in Co. Monaghan. We hope to collaborate with others in the community who make this event happen. This might mean taking part in a performance, or by hosting a talk, performing a sketch or musical piece or doing a demonstration. For further information email or call 086 865 272.  More details will be posted on and on Facebook.

Launch of New Book: ‘Life’s Delicate Balance’ by Nellie McLaughlin


 Life’s Delicate Balance: Our Common Home & Laudato Si’ is just published and available in Veritas bookshops. The author Sister Nellie McLaughlin is a Mercy Sister based in Donegal – she launched the book last week in the Veritas Bookshop in Derry. According to the publisher the book “exhorts people everywhere to pay heed to the Pope’s call to save our planet from destruction. With core questions included for reflection and action, this clear and concise book is an urgent and timely wake-up call in its own right.” The book is an 80 page paperback and is priced at €7.99. We will review Life’s Delicate Balance’ in this column in the coming weeks.

Initiatives to Avert or Prepare us for a Climate Crisis & Build Up Resilience

This week we look at events concerning the climate change issue and the need to be prepared for the challenges it poses for this and future generations. We report on our activities at the recent Taste of Monaghan festival and look ahead to the U3A (University of the Third Age) Climate Change conference in Monaghan on Friday, 23 October and to the ‘Convergence 2015’ events around Ireland on the theme of co-operatives and sustainable livelihoods. Finally we consider the response of major NGOs to the recent ‘climate’ legislation in Ireland in the context of the upcoming and crucial Climate Talks in Paris.

 taste of mon

The Transition Monaghan stall at the recent Taste of Monaghan Festival

Transition at ‘Taste of Monaghan’

At our stall at the Taste of Monaghan Festival we used the opportunity to talk to many different people and display information about our group and other local initiatives like  GIY (Grow it Yourself). In a changing world there is a need for more community and skill-sharing and one of our main aims as a local sustainability group is to support and facilitate such initiatives.

We also showed some traditional skills and products like knitting socks and squares and examples of handmade bags and scarves from recycled materials. On the food side we invited visitors to sample our locally made sour-dough wholemeal bread, quince jam, spelt cookies and courgette cake. These hand made products were so popular that quite a few visitors asked where to buy them or wanted the recipes. A huge success was the hand operated grain mill which over the course of the day produced 600 gr of wholemeal flour that could be used for two breads the next day. We also did a survey on what people think or feel when they hear the term ‘Climate Change’. The survey results will publish here in the near future.

Our ‘skills box’, which was a collection point for local skills on offer/sought after, acted as a starting point for developing skill-sharing events, courses, networks and/or online-projects. It generated a lot of interest and we now have a great range of skills offered by members of the local community that are available to be shared among us. They range from green wood-working to beauty and make-up and from foreign languages to knitting / crochet.

Inter – generational climate conference in Monaghan

In Monaghan, a major conference on climate change is being organised for Friday, 23 October in the Four Seasons Hotel. The organisers – U3A (University of the Third Age) – have a great line up of speakers. These include Fr Seán McDonagh (theologian and author on climate change), Oisín Coughlan (Director, Friends of the Earth), Lorna Gold (Policy Director, Trócaire). There will also be activists of all ages, with representation from older and younger people’s environmental groups. It is open to members of the public, for a fee of €20, which includes a light lunch and tea / coffee. For further details and registration visit

‘Convergence’ Festival of co – operatives and collaboration

‘Convergence 2015’ events will focus on providing ‘sustainable livelihoods’. They will take place across the island of Ireland between Tuesday, 19 & Saturday, 31 October The events vary in format and cover topics such as community ownership; co-housing; community share options; renewable energy co-operatives; co-working; community owned pubs and shops; buyers’ clubs; artist and food co-ops and the emerging collaborative economy. For details see

Reaction to ‘Climate Bill’

Last week the Climate Action and Low Carbon Bill 2015 passed Dáil Éireann. This is the culmination of many years of campaigning by Irish environmental groups. It received a cautious welcome from environmental NGOs, who had called for stricter targets in legislation. The Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition of 28 Irish Environmental NGOs, is now calling on the Government to put in place a solid plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions across Ireland’s economy. The transition and mitigation plan, which will set out emissions reductions, is not due to be revealed for 18 months after the bill is passed. This is a long delay, and takes some of the political attention away from climate change in the upcoming election.

Trocaire, while welcoming the legislation, is calling on the Government to adhere to the principle of climate justice and to make a strong climate finance commitment to support vulnerable communities in the developing world who are already disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Preparing for Paris ClimateSummit

We need to ensure that our politicians take the climate issue seriously at national, EU and UN level especially in the run up to the all-important Climate Change summit in Paris, this December. On Sunday, 29 November, the eve of the Paris summit, you can show your concern by joining a peaceful march in Dublin being organised by the ‘Stop Climate Chaos’ network.  Find out more on the ‘Dublin Climate March’ Facebook page, or keep an eye on this column. If you are interested in travelling from Monaghan to the march, please e-mail Depending on numbers interested, we may organise a bus to attend.

A Monaghan View of Naomi Klein’s Film on Climate Change ‘This Changes Everything’

Recently hundreds of people gathered under a clear night sky in Dublin’s Merrion Square for the premiere of the film, ‘This Changes Everything’. Transition Monaghan members Mícheál Callaghan, Conan Connolly and Jennifer McAree were in attendance.  Here they review this landmark film on climate change.

The film is based on the much acclaimed book of the same name, by world – renowned author and activist, Naomi Klein. In the making of the book and film, Klein discusses how she had to address her own ‘climate denial’. For Klein, it wasn’t so much that she denied that climate change was happening, but more so a denial on how it would impact our way of life. For Klein, she went through a realisation that climate change does and will change everything, if it is unabated, and that it is up to everyone to become active in trying to stop it. However, while the science is stark, that we are running out of time to secure a viable future for the planet, ‘This Changes Everything’ attempts to galvanise grass – roots activists in a bid to re – write our prevailing economic and social narrative which in creating our environmental crisis, has also led to chronic social and economic inequality around the world.

The film itself was shot on five continents and featured struggles of various grassroots organisations against dirty energy projects. The common thread between many of these campaigners was not that they fitted the stereotype of environmentalists or ecologists, but that many of them were ordinary people who suddenly came face to face with fossil fuel energy projects which threatened their existence in places they had lived their whole lives. For example, Klein visits one native Canadian (First Nations) community in Alberta, whose peaceful existence has been severely disrupted by intensive drilling for a particularly dirty oil, known as tar sands. The film encapsulated health difficulties they faced, as well as battles for information regarding the project. In particularly poignant scene, members of the community are visibly upset and frustrated at the fact that they are refused entry into an area which their community had inhabited and visited for thousands of years.

The film also features a community in Greece who are fighting against the destruction of their natural environment. In the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, short – term drilling and mining projects are being justified on economic reasons, despite the evidence that the planet must move away from dirty energy in order to prevent future economic and social strife.

Importantly, however, the film also shows that an alternative is possible. Towards the end of the film, focus shifts to clean energy projects, which have been particularly successful, for example, wind energy in Germany, where towns and villages control and benefit from their own power supply. At the end of the film, there was a call for all those in attendance to take up the call for climate action in Ireland. Slowly, but surely grassroots action is gaining momentum around the world. Thanks to the work of activists and ordinary citizens, universities, schools and churches across the world are removing their investments from fossil fuels. Recently, acclaimed academic and author, Noam Chomsky, stated his support for the divestment group at Queen’s University Belfast.

On the 29th of November, people across the world will gather, in solidarity with those worst affected by climate change, in the global climate march. Last year over 400,000 people took to the streets, the largest number ever to demand action on climate change. It is hoped that this year even more people will do the same. You can join in the march in Dublin on the 29th of Novebmer. Details of this will be publicised in this column and on our facebook page in the coming weeks. Finally, this December, world leaders will gather in Paris in an attempt to finally sign a new global agreement on climate change, that will compel states to cut their emissions to help stabilise the earth’s climate. While, there have been some positive moves by the USA and China, the view among the NGO community is that pledges made are still too small to stay below the critical 2 degrees Celsius threshold of warming. Therefore, everyone in Co. Monaghan can play an important role in ensuring strong action from Ireland, by attending events, marches, and most importantly asking politicians and public representatives to take strong action on climate change. If you would like more information on how you can get involved in activism in the lead up to the Paris conference, or if you would like to find out what Transition Monaghan plans to do, please see or email