The War

The following poem was written by Michael Connolly of Transition Monaghan.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.49.18

The war is almost over

Final victory is in sight

So long in the waging

It’s our way of life

When first we did battle

With hand and club and stone

Succumb did the enemy

Though we were alone

Now we be many

And they are few

Now our weapons be colossal

And for them extinction beckons

The great machine now autonomous

Consumes all, everywhere

And defecates its toxic wastes

into land and sea and air

It drives all before it

Nought stands its way

Forests fall, rivers dry, oceans empty

Mountains laid low

Captured it our brethren

To serve our bloody needs

Products we have made them

Value only as corpse

Imprisoned in pitiless pen

More factory than farm

More dead than alive

Maybe mindless beasts we be

So it is that we are winning

of that there’s little doubt

But in victory’s ashes lie

Conquest bereft of gain

Caught we be by progress

A snare of our own devise

The struggle makes it tighten

Smart may-be but not wise

Though the planet be our home

We be callous to our host

Hot she gets on our abuse

Effects profound do oust

Events on in August can be found by clicking here

Japanese Knotweed: the Invasive Plant that Knows no Boundaries

Probably our most invasive and ruthless invasive plant species is Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica). A German botanist called Philipp von Siebold first saw the plant in 1850 growing on a volcano in Japan. Thinking it would look pretty in Victorian gardens, he decided to send it back to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England. Alas, this began its relentless invasion throughout the UK and Ireland including County Monaghan. It is now classed as one of the top 100 most invasive plants in the world. Jennifer Mc Aree of Transition Monaghan elaborates below.                     Knotweed

A clump of Japanese Knotweed being observed by Liam Murtagh, Transition Monaghan.

Japanese knotweed grows along riverbanks, canals and roadsides, in derelict sites and gardens. It is a plant with green, shield -shaped leaves and a bamboo like stem. It produces cream-coloured flowers in late summer and the female variety that we have can grow rapidly to 2-3 metres (up to 1metre in three weeks), eradicating every other plant species in its path through pure force and blocking sunlight.  This kills off native plant species and thus reduces biodiversity very quickly. The plant can force its way through concrete, brick and tarmac, causing considerable damage to buildings and roads. House sales have fallen through and lenders have refused mortgages in the UK in cases where properties are affected by the deadly weed. Construction projects must be delayed where the species is found until it is properly treated, sealed and removed from the site by licensed experts. The British Government spent over £88m eradicating knotweed from the Olympic village site before even beginning to build.

The plant can take hold from fragments as little as 0.6cm, so when cut it will surely spread. Its roots can grow down as far as 3m and create an extensive underground rhizome system. Only the female of the species has spread in the UK (and in Ireland) since being introduced – it has basically cloned itself from the very start.  It is illegal to dump any cuttings. Glyphosate or ‘round-up’ can be used to treat knotweed, but this takes several applications at various stages of the plant’s life cycle. In addition glyphosate is hazardous to human health and the environment, so it needs to be handled with extreme care.

The knotweed issue has come to the fore in Ireland over the past few years. In January 2016, the then Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe announced a €298m investment to tackle Japanese knotweed along 2,000km of national roadways. While it has rampaged its way across all parts of the country the plant is particularly prevalent in the south-west where the mild, rainy climate has encouraged further proliferation. Kerry County Council has set aside €100,000 for a targeted spraying programme. The weed has taken over large swathes of the Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park.

A Kerry county councillor recently suggested that knotweed root should be used for making jams and desserts (it apparently tastes like rhubarb). However the idea is unlikely to become popular. To cook with it you need a special licence and it must be highly controlled. Japanese knotweed is used for medicinal and cooking purposes back in its native Eastern Asia, but here it is a very risky business.

A tiny bug called Aphalara itadori is being trialled in the UK where Japanese knotweed persists to determine if it can help eradicate the vicious plant. Until the programme is deemed successful this treatment is unlikely to be adopted elsewhere. For now, it is advised not to cut the plant, but to seek advice and treat it carefully at various stages with glyphosate-based weed-killer, or to dig out the weed as far down the roots as possible and burn it in situ. Never add the cuttings to normal household waste or remove them off site. If the knotweed has grown out of control, you must contact the local council or a registered removal expert.

The Invasive Species Ireland website is a mine of information on Japanese knotweed and how to treat it. Another gem is, which encourages people to report knotweed locations. Through a nationwide group effort by local authorities, landowners and householders, we might have some chance of destroying this bad boy (apologies, bad girl!) once and for all.

Event for July can be found by clicking here

August events can be found here

Your Tidy Towns Group Needs YOU!

County Monaghan Groups Wage War on Litter

The national Tidy Towns competition adjudication kicked off on June 11th and Monaghan people are being urged to bin or bring their litter home during this period.  Tidy towns committees all over the county have been working tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that our towns not only look well but also to ensure reduction and prevention of waste and litter in the first place. Transition Monaghan member Dearbhla Lenehan takes a look at the Tidy Towns competition and the important work on litter and other environmental challenges being undertaken by Tidy Towns Groups in the county.


Pictured at Castleblayney bypass earlier this year to promote Spring Clean 2016 were (from left): Nial O’Connor, Monaghan County Council, Sarah McGovern, An Taisce Spring Clean Ambassador, Pat Merrick, Castleblayney Tidy Towns and Noel Keelan, Chairperson, Monaghan County Council. 

The Tidy Towns (TT) competition is an annual competition organised by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Participating areas are judged on all aspects of their local environment and their progress is monitored and detailed feedback is provided year on year.  This gives participants an idea of areas that need improvement for the following year.  This competition helps to generate environmental interest in our communities and also allows us to raise issues to relevant authorities.


Unfortunately, Monaghan suffers greatly with a litter problem and TT volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year picking up (literally) after litter culprits.  At a SWARM (Sustainable Waste and Resource Management) conference in April some members vented their frustration that after all their hard work; conducting litter pick-ups, running anti-litter campaigns and using anti-litter billboard posters that there is still no reduction in plastic bottles, crisp packets and coffee cups thrown out car windows and left on our roadsides.

In one litter picking operation organised by Monaghan County Council and undertaken by volunteers last year, three tonnes of waste were collected on the Castleblayney bypass. That’s the equivalent of three years of household waste! Monaghan County Council installed CCTV along the N2 to tackle the litter problem, but unfortunately, the problem is still evident on this stretch of road.


TT volunteers are a vital part of our community.  Monaghan, like many other counties in Ireland has a serious litter problem, but without the hard work from TT volunteers our scenic views would be extremely unsightly.   The best way to tackle the litter problem is to prevent it and TT groups across Monaghan run several anti-litter campaigns.  For example; Monaghan TT launched a successful Junior Tidy Towns campaign in 2011 which still continues today.   Group members range from ages 4-17 and as well as being involved in litter pick-ups, they plant flowers, paint fences, set up hedgehog houses and take part in wildlife and biodiversity workshops.  There are Junior TT groups in various estates around Monaghan town including; Cluain Lorcain, The Pound Hill/Killygoan, Coolshannagh View and Mullaghmatt/Cortolvin. If you would like to get involved please see for more information.


Not only do TT focus on cleaning up and brightening up our towns and villages, they also undertake waste reduction/prevention, biodiversity, energy saving and climate change projects to name a few. A bumble bee and butterfly workshop was organised recently by the Monaghan Tidy Towns Network in association with Monaghan County Council. TT Groups are also being encouraged to compete for the Tidy Towns Pollinator Award. This involves a TT Group undertaking pollinator friendly actions such as growing a wildflower meadow for bees and butterflies and avoiding the use of chemical weed killer. This is to help stem the decline of pollinating insects which are important for biodiversity and the yields of certain farm crops. Yet another TT activity is the eco summer camp like the upcoming one in Castleblayney. See Noticeboard below. Such actions help environmental sustainability and enhance a well- kept town or and village.


TT groups across the county hold a great record when it comes to the Tidy Towns Competition and most recently, in 2015 Glaslough TT won the National award for waste prevention.  Glaslough TT has many on-going projects including the building of a polytunnel, which is managed by their volunteers and school children.  The tunnel is self-sufficient as they save flowering bulbs for following years, plant comfrey plants to produce plant feed and have four composting sites in the village. They have installed water-harvesting systems and they use this to water village’s beautiful flowers (which are also grown in the polytunnel).  Glaslough TT has encouraged businesses in the area to become greener by changing to energy efficient bulbs and being mindful of their electric and water usage and sourcing food locally.  All of their success comes from the hard work and dedication of their members and people in the community doing their bit to get involved.


There are TT committees in nearly every village and town in Monaghan. Their volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year to help make our communities a nicer, more scenic place to live. With the continued support from Monaghan County Council, local businesses and schools their great work will continue.  This can only continue if EVERYBODY gets involved and supports the initiatives they organise.


More details on Tidy Towns Groups in Co Monaghan are at

Events on in July can be found by clicking here

August events can be found here


by Conan Connolly, Transition Monaghan
A celebration and get together for the potato lovers and growers of South Monaghan will take place again this year in Carrickmacross. Now in its second year, we are running this event to promote awareness of the humble spud, the Transition movement and of course promoting GIY in a fun and friendly competitive way. The final will be on Saturday, 11 September in Carrickmacross. Continue reading

BREXIT: What Impact for Climate and Environment?

By coincidence I happened to be in London on a visit at the time of the BREXIT referendum and the result – one that was a shock for many British people living in the capital city. In the past week since the vote, the implications for the environment and in particular the challenge on climate change have been commented on by environmental groups and by various commentators. The general view on these matters is one of concern about what will happen in the coming years.     


How some newspapers view the environmental impact of Brexit

With a few hours of voting remaining I emerged from London underground train station to see ominously dark skies, with torrential rain and fairly frequent flashes of lightening. ‘One of a few ‘remain’ canvassers sheltering at the entrance from the rain approached me but I quickly informed her that unfortunately I didn’t have a vote

Later that night, I switched off the TV after being reassured on hearing that Nigel Farage of UKIP had conceded that ‘Remain’ would shade it. Apparently he “unconceded” later.  Switching on the TV the next morning caused me to do a ‘double take’. Unbelievably, the banner across the TV screen ‘BBC forecasts Leave to Win’. While life in London continued as normal during the morning, none of the people I met indicated any welcome for the result. Some I felt did not seem comfortable about talking about it. Others commented on the fall of the value of the pound overnight and expressed varying degrees of disappointment. One person said, “we just have to live with it now and make the best of it”. On the ferry home on Saturday I was sitting near the ‘Bureau de Change’ – the people who were changing their Sterling to Euro were the ones who were complaining.

While the insular looking Brexit supporters see the result as a success for Britain the view from those who take a more global perspective is the opposite. The Environmental Pillar in Ireland claimed that Nigel Farage “wants to scrap pollution limits on power stations [in the UK]” and that Prime Minister hopeful Boris Johnson, who “is a climate change skeptic … may attempt to dismantle the UK’s interior legislation that commits them to making deep cuts in carbon emissions.”

All this would indicate that any chance that Britain might give leadership on saving future generations from climate chaos seems to be fading. On other elements many environmentalists feel that environmental protection driven by EU legislation has been beneficial. These include cleaning up sewage from the UK’s beaches, banning pesticides that harm bees, tackling acid rain, and the almost 50% of household waste that is now recycled is as a result of EU targets. They also believe that a Britain outside the EU will not have the same level of Government protection for biodiversity, habitats, water quality etc.


Apart from the shock of the result the other abiding memory of the BREXIT campaign period for many people was the killing of the MP Jo Cox. Jo was an unbelievably dedicated MP, campaigner. She has previously worked as a Development Worker. The radio interview given by her husband Brendan following her death conveyed the amazing commitment she has to people who were most need, be it in her constituency or in war torn parts of the world. Jo did not just talk the talk – she walked the walk. She worked overseas on the front line with refugees and others in need of emergency help. Jo understood not only the challenges that vulnerable people face on this planet – she also appreciated that many forms wildlife on our planet are also at risk, as evidenced by the photo. The world has lost a wonderful person.  Let’s hope many people will be inspired to carry on and intensify the campaigns and practical activities that she was involved in.

Jo cox

Jo Cox holding an ‘Earth Hour’ World Wildlife Fund board which read: I’m supporting a low carbon future to protect our wildlife and countryside.

Events in July can be found by clicking here

August events can be found by clicking here