Parish News

Eco Notes – September

September 2023

Green Shoots of Change

The prevalence of reports on the effects of climate change can cause people: 1) to “switch off” entirely, seeing no point in making attempts to change their lifestyle; 2) to suffer from climate anxiety, worrying endlessly about our future; or 3) to take action. The last is undoubtedly the most useful. Some farmers have always allowed corners to run wild (traditionally called the “hare’s corner”), left boggy fields by river margins etc. and not used fertilisers or chemical control for pests and weeds. However, recently these were in the minority as, for decades, the EU rewarded farmers financially for ripping out scrub, draining bogs, removing hedgerows or infilling ponds in order to maximise land for agricultural output, in addition to encouraging the use of artificial fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides to increase yields. The cost to the environment was hugely detrimental. Owing to the current climate and biodiversity crisis, EU regulations are at last changing and they now incentivise farmers to provide habitat for wildlife; the advantages of harbouring a greater diversity of plants and animals is already becoming obvious, for example when the return of barn owls has obviated the need for rodenticides. Some farmers are setting additional land aside for the sake of biodiversity. A number of folk in Wicklow are proactively engaging in ways to improve biodiversity and reverse the loss of wild habitat. Some do so quietly on their own, maybe by buying up an acre or two of land and letting nature move in. Others buy larger tracts of previously agricultural land, with the sole purpose of improving biodiversity. An example of this is to be found at Wildacres, where in 2017 Gilly Taylor and Brian O’Toole bought 17.5 acres of farmland on the Redross River and have transformed it into a wonderful nature reserve, creating many ponds, woods, wildflower meadow etc. Education is also a core mission and visitors can do courses there or go on tours around the reserve. Sites such as these are vital as reservoirs of wildlife and also show how nature can rebound. However, not all land can become nature reserves, as clearly land still needs to be farmed to provide food. Maybe the present increase in environmental awareness, from the EU down to every farmer, will encourage more interest in preserving our wonderful and diverse wildlife, whilst also producing healthy food.

August Eco Notes

August 2023

“The era of global boiling has arrived”

Imagine you are standing at the bottom of a hill, watching a huge juggernaut slowing winding its way down from the top. Then it speeds up, sending rocks flying downhill as it takes the corners too fast. If brakes were applied now, the lorry would slow down, the damage would be limited. Left to accelerate ever faster, it would veer totally out of control, possibly tipping sideways and obliterating all in its path. Likewise with climate, if we “apply brakes” by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, then we can reduce the rate of earth’s temperature rise. The first three weeks of July have been the hottest on record. UN Secretary General Antonio Guteres said “The era of global boiling has arrived. Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning. It is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5⁰C (above pre-industrial levels) and avoid the very worst of climate change. But only with dramatic, immediate climate action.” In Ireland, we must learn to adapt and part of that adaptation must be to see climate action by us all as a right for future generations – this will, of necessity, involve giving up some of our current “rights” – over-consumption, waste, too much travel, overheating of buildings etc. Most people do not want to hear it: “Ireland is a small country, so it doesn’t matter what we do, it won’t make a difference.” Wrong. Millions of small changes can have a large impact, both directly and by influence (remember banning indoor smoking, levying plastic bags? – other countries followed suit). If we embrace climate action NOW, we can help safeguard the future.

Eco Notes July

July 2023

The Joys of Growing Vegetables

Not so long ago, we used to grow many of our own vegetables in Ireland – however, owing to cut price offers for “cheaper” overseas food in supermarkets, most of the commercial growers here have gone out of business. Currently, Ireland imports a huge amount of fruit and vegetables from Spain, but a long-term drought, water shortages and soaring temperatures there are making much of the land inhospitable. This will almost inevitably result in food shortages in Ireland, similar to that experienced in the spring, when tomatoes, for example, became temporarily unavailable. It would seem logical for Ireland to encourage commercial growers to return to production and for them to be paid a fair price for that produce. Meantime, the Irish populace at large could copy their forebears and start growing their own fruit and vegetables again. Not so long ago, most households had their own potato and cabbage plot. Clearly that is not possible for urban dwellers today, but virtually everyone could grow something, even on a windowsill, patio or in a small back garden. The joy of experiencing the enhanced flavour of freshly picked, home-grown produce might even encourage some folk to grow more. The more time you invest, the more you gain. There is a need to have more allotments and community gardens in urban areas. At a time when food prices are causing hardship for many, growing even a small amount of one’s own food would help alleviate this burden. Grandparents can pass on their gardening knowledge to children, who often love sowing seeds and getting mucky in gardens – and they certainly enjoy the produce, especially if fruits such as strawberries are grown! Why not give it a try?

Eco Notes May 2023

May 2023

Government action not fines

Mary Donnelly heads the Irish Climate Change Advisory Council. It would make huge economic sense for the government to take on board some of her comments. To increase carbon uptake, Ireland needs to plant 8,000 hectares of woodland annually, but at present we are only achieving 2,000 ha/year. We urgently need to set specific targets on land use to indicate how we will reach net zero C emissions. Farming practices have always changed through time and this needs to continue, but farmers will need advice and substantial financial support to adopt sustainable farming practices. Emissions need to decrease across ALL sectors, yet in Ireland they are actually increasing. By 2030, it is estimated that Ireland will be paying a minimum of €8 billion on carbon credits to offset emissions, BUT carbon credits may not be available as so many other countries will be doing likewise. It would make much more sense to spend €8billion on reducing our emissions, instead of paying fines, and to transition to a low carbon lifestyle, not just on farms but in urban areas too. The challenge is for individuals, companies, industries and government to heed the advice of Mary Donnelly.

April Eco Notes

April 2023
IPCC Report
One of the best-known bible stories,
immortalised and popularised in the
musical “Joseph and the Amazing
Technicolour Dreamcoat”, is that of
Joseph interpreting the Egyptian
Pharaoh’s dreams. He foretold seven
years of plenty followed by seven
years of famine. Accordingly, he
organised the saving and storage of
grain from each of the good years.
When famine came, he rationed out
the grain to the Egyptians and they
survived, whereas people from other
nations starved. We could all learn a
valuable lesson from this biblical tale.
The International Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) has just issued its most
stark report yet. Global temperatures
are already 1.09⁰C higher than before
industrialisation took place.
Eco Tips
Once the increase reaches 1.5⁰C, more
catastrophic effects of climate change will
manifest themselves – untold human
suffering from increasingly violent storms,
sea level rise from melting ice, floods and,
conversely, drought and desertification
etc.; famines and food shortages will be
rife. Environmental damage and the loss
to biodiversity will escalate and become
irreversible. However, if we follow
Joseph’s example, but in a modern
context, we could avoid precipitating
such global disaster. The good news is
that IT IS POSSIBLE – e.g. by investing in
technological change and by voluntarily
reducing our consumption. We can ALL
play our part now by not buying products
we don’t need, reducing waste, excessive
travel, fuel from overheating homes and
businesses. Test yourselves and see how
much you can reduce consumption –
saves money too!

Easter Services

Nun’s Cross Church, Killiskey will be the venue for our Holy Week journey this year,
with services each evening in Holy Week. There will also be a service in Wicklow
Church on Good Friday.
Sunday 2 April, Holy Communion service at 8.30am, Wicklow. Palm Sunday: 9.30am,
Wicklow Church, Dramatised reading of Matthew’s Passion.
11.15am, Nun’s Cross Church, Palm Sunday procession and service.
Monday 3 April. 7.30pm. Service of Compline
Tuesday 4 April. 7.30pm. Service of Compline
Wednesday 5 April. 7.30pm. Tenebrae service of gradually extinguishing light.
Thursday 6 April. 7.30pm. Maundy Thursday Eucharist.
Friday 7 April. 10am, Wicklow Church, Good Friday service & reflection
2pm, Nun’s Cross Church, Prayers around the cross.
7pm Walk of Witness. Beginning in Wicklow Methodist Church, walking to Wicklow
Church of Ireland, and then to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Saturday 8 April. 9pm. Easter Vigil Service of Light.
Sunday 9 April. Easter Day! 8.30am Holy Communion, Wicklow Church
9.30am Family Communion, Wicklow Church
11.15am Family Communion, Nun’s Cross Church.

Holy Week & Easter
This powerful but simple progression around Wicklow town sends a message to the
wider community: that Christians here take seriously the events that lead to the death
of Jesus on the cross. We meet in Wicklow Methodist Church at 7pm, where we sing a
hymn, and listen to the first part of the Passion Narrative. We then walk to Wicklow
Church of Ireland, carrying a large cross (taking turns to help carry, if you like), where
we sing another hymn & hear the second part of the Passion Narrative. We then walk
to St Patrick’s Catholic Church, for a service of prayers and music centred on the story
of Good Friday. Please do make this event a priority in your Holy Week journey.