Sustainable Christmas


At this time of year, we pour so much of our energy, both physical and mental, into trying to ensure a ‘perfect Christmas’ where we buy the right presents for everyone, we have the house beautifully decorated (and tidied!) and have wonderful food and drinks available for friends and family. It can be exhausting. Christmas has become “the biggest annual festival of consumption around the globe”, and has reached the point where this excessive consumption is “not just normal, it’s positively encouraged” [Jen Gale]. So, how can we reduce our impact without losing any of the spirit and joy of this special time of year? Niamh Brannigan and Candice Moen ‘unwrap’ the situation.

Continue reading

Food for thought at “Celebrating Transition” at Ballybay Wetlands


L – R: Liam Murtagh, Monaghan Ecological Group Committee Member, Mícheál Callaghan, co – founder, Davie Philip, Cultivate (Guest Speaker). Photo by Amie Hynes Fitzpatrick.

Over fifty people from across County Monaghan, and further afield, gathered, on Friday last, in Ballybay Wetlands Centre for “Celebrating Transition”, a social & networking evening organised by Monaghan Ecological Group. Attendees, who represented a wide range of organisations, discussed and shared ideas, participated in informative break – out sessions and enjoyed a locally sourced buffet. The goal of the evening was to introduce people to the work and ethos of Monaghan Ecological Group, bring together local organisations and individuals working in the area of local sustainability and create a platform from which to build a strong movement for a positive, resilient future for County Monaghan.

The evening opened with an overview of the history of the Ballybay Wetlands Centre and its current work from chairperson of Ballybay Development Association, Brian Norton. Mícheál Callaghan, co – founder of Monaghan Ecological Group, gave a welcome address, in which he gave an overview of the context in which Monaghan Ecological Group was founded, its current work, and ethos. He stated that it was a community based, Transition Initiative, which “works to strengthen the local economy, reduce our impact on the environment, and build community resilience.” It does this through running regular information and networking evening events, media work and practical local projects. He stated that the Group is part of the Transition Town Network, which was founded in 2005 in response to the interconnected social, economic and environmental problems we face today. He stressed that Monaghan Ecological Group is a new community led initiative that is continuously building relationships with local authorities, businesses, organisations and individuals, and that Monaghan Ecological Group “always welcomes new members and ideas.”


L-R: Mícheál Callaghan, co – founder Monaghan Ecological Group; Mayor Seán Conlon, Monaghan County Council; Davie Philip, Cultivate (Guest Speaker). Photo by Amie Hynes Fitzpatrick.

Davie Philip, manager of the Community Resilience Programme at Cultivate, and co – founder of Sustainable Projects Ireland, gave a presentation on the evening which focused on the theme of resilience. He stated that the times we are living in present challenges on many levels, but that they also represent a “once in a species opportunity” for change and that we should not “let a good crisis go to waste”. His presentation began with a screening of his short film “Surfing the Waves of Change.” The video which states that our current lifestyles are under threat due to shrinking oil supplies and climate change, stresses the importance of resilience at personal, community and global level. He stated that resilience is the ability to withstand and respond to pressure and stress in times of change and upheaval. He spoke of the efforts of the Transition movement to build community resilience, through uniting people, building social capital and enabling communities to do more for themselves at local level. Davie, who is originally from Scotland, spoke of the importance of community support and said that the sense of community togetherness and pride of place and heritage, which is key to resilience, really struck him when he moved to Ireland. He said that groups such as Monaghan Ecological Group, GIY, Tidy Towns and other community organisations are key to harnessing this community spirit to bring about the kind of social change needed for a future with less oil. At the end of Davie’s presentation, his message was simple and clear: “Go for it!”

Following the presentation by Davie, participants had the opportunity to hear more about the ethos and projects of Monaghan Ecological Group in three, concurrent break – out sessions, which lasted for ten minutes. Mícheál Callaghan built upon the theme of resilience from Davie’s speech, and spoke about how the Transition ethos can be implemented in Monaghan. County Mayor, Seán Conlon, who attended this break out, encouraged people who have ideas for projects, to approach the local authorities, as they are very willing to help community initiatives. Ciarán Fitzpatrick, founder of LETS Trada and Monaghan Ecological Group member, gave an over view of how they are working to establish a Local Exchange Trading System in the Clones region. He stated that this system, which allows people to trade by building up LETS credit, without using Euro, would be a real asset in difficult economic times. Margaret Palmer, a local herbalist, gave an overview in the third break out session, of a project she hopes to roll out, which will capitalise on the health, economic and ecological benefits that herbal medicines and remedies can offer.

Monaghan Ecological Group is extremely grateful to everyone who attended the event and helped out in anyway. We would like to acknowledge the support it received from Monaghan County Council’s Community Development Fund 2013 and Wave Change Social Enterprise programme. All food on the night was generously made available by the following local producers and suppliers: Camphill, Ballybay; Mulberry Meadow Farm, Clontibret; Charley Meats, Monaghan; Bumble Beez, Monaghan. We are also very thankful for all the help we received from the staff at Ballybay Wetlands Centre in the run up to the event and on the evening itself.


L-R: Dearbhla Lenehan, Monaghan Ecological Group co – founder; Margaret Palmer, Committee Member & Local Herbalist; Liam Murtagh, Committee Member. Photo by Amie Hynes Fitzpatrick

If you would like more information or would like to get involved with the work of Monaghan Ecological Group please contact Mícheál on 086 3483896 or e-mail You can keep up to date with its work and events on Facebook (Monaghan Ecological Group) and at

Cross Border Support for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology at CREST

Monaghan Ecological Group (MEG) is delighted to announce that two prominent members have taken up exciting new job roles with CREST (Centre for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technologies), which is an innovative cross-border initiative to deliver a programme of technology development for small and micro business.


 (Above) The layout of the Centre for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology Technologies, in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.

Andrea Corrigan and Barry Mc Carron have recently been employed as research and development associates with the CREST programme.

CREST will provide businesses with research and development assistance, including demonstration and testing facilities for new renewable energy products and sustainable technologies. The facilities will be used by small companies within the region who have ideas for new products but who currently do not have the physical and/or technical capacity to develop, test and commercialise these. CREST is supported by the European Union’s INTER REGIVA Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

The type of assistance available through CREST includes developing prototypes; testing new or innovative products; carrying out research relating to particular product/service areas; investigating further finance options; identifying and directing businesses towards further areas of assistance. CREST has four main partners including Institute of Technology Sligo, Cavan Innovation &Technology Centre, and Dumfries & Galloway College with the lead partner being South West College. The four CREST partners will form a support network of specialist innovation colleges and centres. The CREST teams and their facilities are available to assist with research, development and testing of innovative renewable energy and sustainable technology ideas as well as demonstrating how these can be integrated practically e.g. into domestic or business settings.

Barry McCarron will be based in Enniskillen with the lead project partner South West College. This will be the location of a new development specifically designed to provide industry research and development and testing facilities for new renewable energy products and sustainable technologies. Barry says “CREST is an exciting £2.9 million project which has the services to provide quality independent assistance both in the innovation and development of new and existing technologies”.

Andrea Corrigan,who has a background in environmental management and has been involved in various sustainable and renewable projects both in agriculture and industry,will be part of the CREST team in Cavan Innovation & Technology Centre (CITC). Based on the Dublin Road in Cavan, CITC facilitates and supports enterprise and economic development in the central border area.Andrea says “CREST provides a great opportunity to help and encourage small to medium businesses to develop new products and adapt existing products and processes which will ultimately increase their turnover, export sales, efficiency and profitability. It will encourage businesses to adopt a more sustainable approach to their activities and will be of particular value to those businesses who might not otherwise have the resources to research and develop their ideas.” Between June 2013 and December 2014, approximately 36 projects in the border region, will receive assistance from the CREST team at CITC. Further information can be found by visiting and selecting the CREST page.

If you have a query regarding eligibility of your business or your project idea, please contact us using the contact details provided below.

Barry McCarron – CREST Programme, South West College, Killyhevlin Industrial Estate, Enniskillen, BT74 4EJ (Tel: 028 822 5223) Ext2318

Andrea Corrigan – CREST Programme, CITC, Dublin Road, Cavan (Tel: 049 4377277)

The Power of Local Food



 Michal O Hare, Monaghan Allotment Society; Verona McGettigan, Ballinode Tidy Towns, Mícheál Callaghan, MEG; on a recent visit to the newly developed allotments at Killygoan, Monaghan.

On a recent visit to the new allotments at Killygoan, Monaghan, Mícheál Callaghan of MEG, saw first hand the positive impact local food projects can have on local communities.

We live in an era when we have more food available to us than ever before, with fewer people than ever involved in agriculture. We can go to our local supermarket and buy kiwi fruit from New Zealand or Coconut from the Tropics. Much of the food we produce in Ireland is exported to other countries. As well as resulting in increased emissions from large food miles, this systems of global food production also undermines local food security and often benefits large retailers at expense of smaller producers. This has a negative impact on smaller food retailers and local producers and leaves local communities more vulnerable to disruptions to this supply chain. The recent horse meat scandal showed some of the issues associated with large scale, globalised food production.

Local food production and market gardening can provide local jobs, boost food security and build community links. As well as this, food produced locally for local markets is easily traceable with consumers often having a direct relationship with the producer.


Over the space of a few short weeks this Spring, volunteers from Monaghan Allotment Society and the Killygoan area of Monaghan Town, transformed an idle field to a vibrant community growing space, at Killygoan. Twelve people are now the proud holders of allotment plots, growing all kinds of vegetables and learning new skills. On a recent visit to the site, this MEG member was struck by how busy the site was and how much enthusiasm and pride those present showed for their plots. As well as improving local food security and helping to develop new growing skills, the development of the site has brought people together and built new links, acting as a new focal point for the community. It is a testament to what can be achieved when a community comes together to realise a common goal. As well as the allotments in Monaghan Town, Monaghan Allotment Society have two sites in Tydavnet and wish to develop further allotments in Monaghan Town.

Castleblayney is well served with community food projects. The mid – Monaghan town has three community gardens, with an allotment currently being developed in the town, thanks to the work of Castleblayney Community Gardens and the Castleblayney Enterprise Project.

MEG is also currently working with Ballinode Tidy Towns to develop a community garden and allotments at Cappog, Ballinode.


Grow It Yourself is a national organisation which aims to encourage people to grow their own food, using whatever space they have available, whether that be a small window box or a small farm. Their website has a wealth of information and tips for growers and first timers. GIY Monaghan meet on a monthly basis in the Market House, Monaghan, and their meetings feature guest speakers and provide opportunity to exchange tips and advice with other growers. Their meetings are open to all and they can be contacted at

Transition Towns

Transition Towns is a growing international movement, founded in Kinsale, which seeks innovative ways to build community resilience in response to the social, economic and environmental effects of Climate Change. The aim is to bring people together, through skill sharing and networking, in order to build more sustainable towns and villages, providing jobs and opportunities which will enable communities to flourish in a less energy rich world. A report commissioned by Transition Town Totnes, in England, states that harnessing just 10% of the demand for local goods and services in the sectors of food, renewable energy, retro fitting and Care & Health, could add up to £5 million to the local economy, provide hundreds of jobs and lessen the impact on the environment.

Monaghan Ecological Group (MEG) is a recently formed Transition Initiative which aims to harness the potential for a more positive local economy and society at local level.

Ballybay Food Event

 MEG is organising a local food networking event in the Ballybay Wetlands Centre on Friday 23 August. All are welcome to attend, and it will be of particular interest to those interested in the local food economy and sustainability. It will provide an opportunity for organisations, public representatives and individuals to come together, enjoy locally produced food and learn more about the work of MEG in the relaxed setting of Ballybay Wetlands Centre. All food on the evening will be provided by local growers and producers. Local musicians will provide the backdrop for what will be a celebration of the power of what can be achieved at community level. The event will open with an address from a prominent figure in the Transition Movement.

For more information about MEG please contact

Useful Resources

Monaghan Ecological Group –

GIY Ireland –

Transition Network –

Monaghan Ecological Group (MEG)

ImageMonaghan Ecological Group (MEG) is part of the world wide Transition Town movement. The transition town movement is a response to the social, economic and ecological crisis which are the results of climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap fossil energy. The transition town movement recognises the great challenges that will be faced by society as a result and seeks to foster a community led response to these challenges by building resilient, sustainable and fulfilling local communities in which to live. We will all have to live with less energy in the future, however it is possible to do so in a way which actually enhances happiness and community cohesion.

The transition town movement is aptly named as it is about helping communities in transition to this new paradigm. It focuses on building ways of living that are more connected than ever and that operate within the ecological limits of our planet. The transition town movement is a bottom up initiative which empowers local people, independent of centralised decision making, to make positive changes to their community, without waiting on someone else to implement these measures for us. This transition will face us all and it is vital that as a community we can pool our resources, skills and knowledge to make this transition as effective as possible.

MEG focuses on building links with local bodies and other local interest groups as well as local representatives and politicians to ensure that there is cohesion in the transition to a low energy, sustainable society. There are many ways that this can be done and anyone who has a special skill or interest is highly encouraged to become part of this movement for the future of our community.

The main activities and areas that the group focus on are food growth and security, education as well as empowering people with various skills needed to make the transition and the establishment of links and contacts with local businesses to bring them on board. There are many successful transition town organisations around the globe and more can be found out about this movement on the website of the transition network –   www.

Facebook –

E-mail –

We also have a dropbox a/c containing more information regarding events and meetings the group has/will hold.  For details on how to access this account please email MEG.