Rathfarnham Parish, Dublin

Rathfarnham Parish Eco Group, Dublin, has organised a number of events in recent years to raise eco awareness among parishioners and the local community.

10/10/10 Carbon-Cutting Cycle 1Two Walk/Cycle to Church Sundays have been organised to encourage those who are fit and able to walk/cycle to church rather than take the car. A prize was offered the first Rathfarnham parishioners joined by Minister Eamon Ryan, Senator Alex White & members of the communitytime to the two people who walked/cycled the furthest – a trip to Oxfam with their very own personal shopper (a member of the eco group)!

As part of 350.org’s Global Day of Action on 10/10/10 the Rathfarnham Spring Clean group photogroup led a Carbon-Cutting Cycle along the River Dodder. They were joined by then Minister for the Environment, Eamon Ryan, and Senator Alex White as well as members of the Fete 2011 Eco Stalllocal community. Several councillors came to wish them well as they set off.

The group also put up posters and ads in local papers to invite local people to a screening of The Age of Stupid film. Sylvia Thompson of The Irish Times chaired a discussion afterwards and people were given a list of Eco Tips before they went home. The Economics of Happiness was screened on another occasion.

A series of eco awareness evenings was also organised via posters and ads in local papers. The sessions were based on Cultivate’s Powerdown DVD, which was the starting point for plenty of discussion.

Every year Rathfarnham joins with two local Catholic parishes to hold a series of Lenten talks. Sometimes these have included talks of an environmental nature. Sr Catherine Brennan, chairperson of Eco-Congregation Ireland, spoke on one occasion and in 2010 Suzie Cahn, a Transition Towns initiator, and author Alexander Bell spoke on the topic, Environment and Community: Are We Ready to Change the Way We Live?

The group also invited the local community to join them in a Spring Clean that was organised in conjunction with Rathfarnham Quaker Meeting.

They have also distributed over 300 copies of a Local Food Directory they compiled, which encourages people to think about where their food comes from and how far it travels before it reaches their plates. The directory lists local shops and stalls that sell locally-produced food.

They also started a ‘Local Food – South Dublin’ Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Local-Food-South-Dublin/167417019940553 – and they hope that people living in other areas will be inspired to set up similar Facebook pages for their own localities.

In May 2011 they had an eco stall at the parish fete. They handed out various leaflets and demonstrated a compost bin, a water butt and a wormery and sold home-baked goodies made with organic and Fairtrade ingredients. They held a Guess the Number of Worms in the Wormery competition, with 1st prize being a Home Organics hamper and 2nd and 3rd prizes being bottles of Rathfarnham blackberry/rhubarb wine! An Taisce Green Homes was invited to have a stall too.

The parish website includes a section on the environment and every month the group submits an Eco Tip and/or Eco News to the parish magazine. On one occasion a member of the committee wrote an article encouraging people to try preparing a 30-mile dinner (eating only food prepared within a 30-mile radius). In autumn 2011 they advertised an Urban Harvest, offering to pick fruit for elderly people in the parish who were unable to harvest all of their fruit.

Creation is the focus of attention at the annual harvest and pet services as well as occasional special eco awareness services. The parish supports Stop Climate Chaos events and campaigns and has held a Stop Climate Chaos prayer vigil and distributed leaflets.

The eco group drew up an Environmental Policy, which was approved by Select Vestry, and is now on display in the parish centre so that parishioners (and outside groups that use the premises) are made aware of our commitment to the environment.

Rathfarnham Parish received an Eco-Congregation Ireland award on 29th January 2012.