Local Rector John Godfrey of the Aughrim, and Creagh Parish Union is leading plans for a community 'climate action park' on church land in Aughrim, RTE Countrywide featured him and the project in a recent piece.
He was inspired to create the biodiversity park as has a big campus on his doorstep. Historically the rectors that lived on the land would have farmed it. It makes sense to have the park in that location as they already have a garden which is used for growing vegetables and an orchard.
The Community Employment Scheme has helped make the site an educational amenity while the school children from Glebe NS plant the trees donated by the local community.All the produce that is grown on the land is given back into the community. The juice from the apples in the orchard is bottled and sold in ‘Burke’s’ shop.
The local people maintain the garden and by doing this they learn new skills. The schoolchildren would sometimes have lessons in the garden about planting, the cycles of nature, biodiversity, and sustainable living.
In 2019 the ‘Friday’s For Future’ movement helped inspire the Reverend to plan the park, when children around the world went on strike on Fridays to protest about climate change. “On the 15th of March 2019 10,000 Irish children had protested outside Dáil Éireann, and I realised we had to respond. The scripture reading for that week was about the need for urgent change” states Rev John .
The original plan was just to plant trees to take the harmful carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. As they were planning the park, they thought the most impactful way to utilise the space was to open it up to the public rather than just plant trees, hopefully inspiring the public to make a positive difference in their lives.
In 2019 ‘Holy Trinity Church’ had it’s 200th anniversary and they had a big service. They used theservice to show their vision for the biodiversity park and at the end, the whole community down to the park and they symbolically planted the first tree which was blessed by Fr. Geraghty . Afterwards they then planted more apple trees.
A landscape firm Radharc landscaping from Moycullen, developed plans for the project, Fingelton-White engineering helped submit the planning application. Planning was approved in February this year and they are just waiting on the final archaeological sign-off before they can start properly. - planting and laying down pathways.
They also have a river running along the bottom of the site and working with Irish waterways will improve the quality of the water. They will rake the gravel at the bottom of the riverbed to allow the trout to spawn and loosen the gravel with their tails.
The hope is that the project would fall into the requirements for leader funding from the EU.
Within the site there is ruins of two ancient abbey’s both of which pre-date the reformation. One is from the twelfth or thirteenth century and the other goes all the way back to the sixth. They are attributed to St. Catherine who is the patron saint of Aughrim. This is the birthplace of Christianity in the area which is significant to both churches, It means they can go back to their shared origin and unite to help shape the future.
“If you want to take care to fix the environment, then you need to take time to notice it first”, states Rev. John.
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