Ireland was once a land of trees. Unfortunately the emerald green fields our country is renowned for, were created only through the loss of our magnificent forests.
Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to Eoghan (pronounced Owen) from the Gaelic Woodland Project, whose goal is to play a key role in the reforestation of Ireland's midland counties.
Here is his story....
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Creating Culture Consciously
In Ireland, St.Patrick’s Day faded seamlessly into the month without any of the accustomed gatherings or jubilation: a Sham without the Rock. Similar to Halloween or the Puck, this festival is uniquely Irish, yet exceptional as it is the global celebration of the Irish culture.
I remember the parades of my youth and revelries of my adolescence, yet by my mid-twenties, I was avoiding the madness entirely. The gallery of rapture and revelry had no substance for me and had turned tiresome. Truthfully, I thought it a poor representation of Irish society.
Culture is the manifestation of our collective creations and intellectual achievements and thus we have direct input into what our culture becomes. There is opportunity in these tedious times and now is a convenient moment to meditate on what culture we wish to consciously create.
Everyone in the Republic has been living within 5km of their beds and, depending on which home they’ve been compelled to find comfort in, there may be trees in the park or perhaps no park at all.
There may be native woodlands to wander with mountains and rivers, or they must make do with a green or concrete circuit. I grew up around a green in North Dublin: I called it a ‘green’ because a park suggests flowers.
The community took ownership of it and planted 600 daffodils in October: it is now a bonafide park with fairy door decorations, new shrubs, painted railings and, despite it being spring, the lampposts were dressed in knitted scarfs. The community even petitioned the Local Authority for an all-weather pitch. They were rejected; they persisted; they got it.
I am inspired by these individuals. Aristotle called it Eudaiomonia, the flourishing human, and this microcosm embodies the essence of it. They took responsibility, ownership and empowered themselves to do something greater than themselves. This is what I wish Irish culture to be imbued with: the recognition of responsibility.
The Deforestation of Ireland
Pollen counts indicate that Ireland was once a blanket of flora, her midlands dressed in emerald green bogs and her valleys filled with ancient woods. None now living know what Ireland used to feel like: with lynxes, wildcats, beavers and bears, with ancient oaks and sacred groves.
Ireland was proactively deforested and by 1900 the woodlands were gone. Even now we have the lowest forestry cover in Europe: 11% compared to the EU average of +30%. Our target was 17% but it’s feared that we may drop to 10%. We are remarkably bad at forestry.
10% of our wilderness lies in the hedgerows for Paddy’s sake, and most of what we do have is a monoculture mess with no good to give but a profit to a few. We inherited an ecological wasteland and a century on we’re not much better.
The deforestation of Ireland is woven with the trauma of famine and two centuries of hemorrhaging emigration, leaving us in a state of social amnesia. These woods were the Gaelic citadels; each family name had its own family tree. They were pillars of our ancient law and lore.
Yet now, like the wolf and woodkerne, they’re gone, and the responsibility lies with us. The dead won’t lift a finger and our children look to us for example.
The Gaelic Woodland Project
We who are living in abundance and hindsight, sit on the shoulders of giants and now is the time for self-actualization.
They’re 70 million around the world who are the descendants of Ireland’s scattered generations. The lacuna left from this emigration is commensurate to the deforestation of the island, so we intend to heal one with the other.
We’re calling upon the International Irish Community to work together to create a commemorative woodland in the Heart of Ireland. Together we can honor our shared ancestry by gifting posterity an ecological inheritance.
We’re offering each patron a 21-year licensed family plot for their contribution. Consider the longevity of the trees: the renewal of these licenses will facilitate inter-generational cooperation and incremental expansion for centuries to come.
Our plan is simple: our team is working voluntarily so that 100% of donations can be used to buy land, it will be forested with the Native Woodland Scheme Grant and the premiums will finance all other operations.
The woodland will grow proportionate to the proliferation of the campaign so come aboard this vessel for people-powered reforestation and join the mighty meitheal. (pronounced meh-hull and meaning a collective group working together).
It goes without saying that these trees will clean our air and store carbon, they’ll mitigate water movements and prevent soil erosion and flooding. They will also provide habitats for native species and become a priceless public amenity, yet in time they may well become the caldron of a new culture.
Look for our campaign on GoFundMe at Gaelic Woodland Project or contact us at email@example.com if you wish to get more involved.
Donation from the Irish American Mom Community
On behalf of our Irish American Mom Community I have made a €100 donation to this wonderful project.
Thanks to Saint Patrick and all the wonderful people who visited this website over the month of March, I have a little excess money from advertising revenues.
And so, to honor Saint Paddy himself, I decided why not join the Gaelic Woodland Project meitheal, and help purchase a little patch of Irish land for reforestation.
Thank you for all you are doing Eoghan, to get this amazing project underway.
Wishing you every success as you nurture the future forests of Ireland.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade