A Community in Unity

Every country is made up of various communities. In Ireland, one unpopular style of community I experienced was an ecovillage in Cloughjordan. Our tour guide, Úna, told me that despite their eco-friendly efforts, “A lot of people move here more for the strong sense of community” versus a passion to help the environment. I found this interesting because previously, I assumed everyone who lived here did so because they were passionate about nature. In this community, people decide to not cut the grass excessively and ride a bike instead of driving. They also have community places where people can leave items they no longer had a use for, such as toys, movies, and crafts. This demonstrates a strong sense of closeness because people were comfortable sharing, repurposing, and donating their personal belongings without expecting anything in return.

The ecovillage knows the grass can always be longer on the other side.

Another example of the strong sense of community here was in the Cloughjordan pubs. People would sit in a circle and share their musical abilities by singing and playing instruments freely. They helped one another finish songs by either jumping in to sing a verse or accompanying an instrument. The community was supportive and open-minded, even towards new people. Anyone who wanted to sing or play music was encouraged to and received support afterward.

This farmer is working selflessly. It is his contribution to the community.

Also, the farmers demonstrate an understanding of community because their work is selfless. They work long, stressful hours in strenuous conditions to provide food and resources to the village. They make a low minimum wage pay that does not match the physical labor they exert.

The ecovillage loves and supports Mother Nature. People and animals here can rejoice unified in one community because every creature is respected. Even Pa’s Django Ecohostel composts food in an effort to keep the community in the best condition possible because that will benefit everyone. By the end of my time at the ecovillage, I learned that this population as well as Cloughjordan as a whole, both exhibit a strong and healthy sense of community through their efforts to make their home a prosperous environment for everyone.

Ireland is a complex country that holds many different types of communities, specifically an ecovillage that offers many benefits to the people who live there.

“Baaa” by Shelby Payanis

It has always been one of my dreams to hold a lamb, and at the Killary Sheep and Mussel Farm in Killary, Ireland, that dream came true! But I did not just get to hold one, my classmates and I were all given bottles of milk so that we could feed a whole bunch of them – it was amazing!

Me, feeding the lambs!

At this farm we also got to witness first hand how the sheep in Ireland are able to run free amongst acres and acres of land, and watch how they can be herded by a sheep dog – more specifically a 2-year-old sheep dog named Sylvie! Tom Lee, owner of the farm, told us that, “Sylvie is only happy when she’s working – she loves it!” Also, before coming to Ireland, I often heard the joke or myth that there are “More sheep in Ireland than people,” and after visiting, I have to confirm that this indeed may be true.

Sylvie takes a breather before returning to work.

There is a significant difference between the process of farming in Ireland and the United States. Although I do not agree with raising animals just to consume them, in Ireland, the farmers work tremendously hard and genuinely care about the lives of all of their animals before they have to turn them into consumable meat.

In America, cows, sheep, chickens, etc., spend their entire lives in small and crowded factories before they are put on a conveyor belt and turned into a package of meat that is shipped to the nearest Stop and Shop. However, in Ireland, the animals get to roam free and enjoy the beauties of nature before they are sold at the local market.

Sylvie leads the sheep back to their pen.

But even that shows the difference between Ireland and America. In the states, we often do not know where our meat comes from, and most of us only consume it because it is convenient. If we had the same process in our country as they do in Ireland in which a local farmer (who you know) is gathering this meat for you, maybe more and more people would not consume them. According to WorldAtlas, “Six percent of the Irish population are vegetarians.” This seems low, but Americans are not even on the list! This means that even though American citizens often do not know where their meat comes from, they are still willing to buy it and eat it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this trip to the farm and I thought it was fascinating to see the great quality of life that these animals are given before they are turned into consumable meat. This may be the vegetarian in me talking, but I hope that as more and more people visit this place they will start to see that eating animals isn’t always the “right” choice – just a convenient one.

And they’re off!

Shelby’s Gallery

Kate’s Gallery

Jordan’s Gallery