“We are a community of blow-ins” – Pa from the eco-village
Because of their past, the Irish have always had a strong sense of community. Coming to Ireland, I knew the people would be friendly and welcoming, but I did not expect the amount of selflessness the Irish would inhibit. During my trip, I talked to many people from all different backgrounds and one thing stood out; these people were more concerned with the bigger picture than their own personal issues. Contrary to in America, where most people are focused on getting from their own point A’s to point B’s, the Irish take pride in living simpler lives to benefit the greater good. I stayed at the eco-village in Cloughjordan the first few nights of my trip, and the people lived there without certain comforts that I take for granted back home. The eco-village strives to solve many problems of the modern world such as wasting food, energy, and water. The village used compost bins to empty uneaten food into to what would eventually be used as fertilizer for the gardens once it had decomposed. The village aimed to combat the amount spent on imported food, as “more than half the nation’s food bill goes towards imported goods” by setting up multiple tents for growing various vegetables and foods.
Why waste money on importing foods that they can grow right there in the eco-village? Not having to go out and retrieve food limits the amount of fuel emissions which also benefits the environment. The hostel, as well as the buildings housed in the village were built containing showers and faucets with a timed amount of use with them for the purpose of saving water. The act of having to continually press the buttons on these made me aware of how much water I was used to using, and made me realize that I was able to put soap of my body and then wash it off with the water, rather than having both be going at the same time. My time there may not have made a great impact on the amount of water that was saved, but overtime the amount of water saved by not having it constantly running is insurmountable.
During one of the first nights in Cloughjordan, Sean, Kyle, and I visited the Railroad pub down the street from the eco-village at which we spoke with the bartender about how it was owning a pub in such a small village. He acknowledged that he would be making more money if he just decided to quit and collect unemployment, but he felt that he would be letting down the people who knew him in the village. Even though the unemployment program is much different in Ireland, that kind of sacrifice would be unheard of in America where the amount of money you make is of utmost importance. Here in Ireland how, how much you make means less to locals because they are kind-hearted people who put the group above themselves.