The signing of a five-year lease for Myross Wood House was marked with an open day for those
who want to make a difference writes Jackie Keogh
MYROSS Wood House in Leap is now the home of the Centre of Excellence for Climate Action and Sustainability, or Cecas for short, and it is aimed at absolutely everyone – professional or private – who wants to play their part.
Hosting community groups for different activities, running a monthly market, as well as organising talks, workshops and courses, are just some of the ways of getting people to use the space.
‘It is important to us,’ said Trish Lavelle, the acting chairperson of Green Skibbereen, ‘that we spread the word and say, “Here is where you can find out how you can retrofit your house, here is where you can find out how to create a sustainable garden, or how to be zero-waste”.’
People can also become involved in a practical way by volunteering to help with the restoration of the 30-acre woodland at Myross that was decimated by Storm Ophelia.
Green Skibbereen has an impressive brain trust but it has no wish to blind people with science.
Trish said the members of Green Skibbereen, which was established after a public meeting in the West Cork Hotel almost two years ago, ‘are just ordinary people who share the same fears and hopes for our jobs, businesses, for our children’s future, for the environment.
‘That gives us a special link with the community. We understand exactly how powerless you can feel because this thing – the need for climate action – is huge,’ she said.
‘We are on the edge of Europe and the Atlantic weather systems are changing. It seems unstoppable.
‘It seems hard to predict what will happen next but, as with any massive challenge, it is about coming together and providing a space where people can share worries, concerns and problems, but also share solutions and ideas.
‘The thing that makes me hopeful about this area is that West Cork is full of really talented, interesting, bright, practical people who have great ideas. And what Cecas can provide is a space where all that can come together,’ she added.
Green Skibbereen has a five-year plan for Cecas. Trish said year one will be all about ‘spreading the word about who we are, what we can do, and who we’d like to partner with.’
That work has started in earnest by opening up the space and making it available to people who are running classes on site and by hosting the monthly zero-waste market.
The open day too was a success as it gave visitors the opportunity to interact with the people, the place and the principles of Cecas.
Another aspiration for year one, according to Trish, is to remain financially viable.
‘We are a relatively new business,’ she said.
‘We are not-for-profit, but we still have to pay the bills so that is a big priority for us.
‘We have got to generate income. We have got to generate donations.
‘We are also launching our new supporters’ scheme, which will be an annual donation that can be paid as a family, an individual, or a student.’
Trish said the amount would be relatively small – probably the price of a few coffees – but it will help Cecas become a powerful instrument for climate action.
The sprawling building at Myross already has an impressive conference facility.
It is here that Green Skibbereen will be running their schedule of talks, workshops and courses.
AirBnB rooms that overlook the old walled gardens at the former Missionaries of the Sacred Heart retreat centre will be key to boosting the company’s coffers and allow them to build a strong base from which it can develop connections it has already established at local, national and EU level.