While traveling around Ireland, I took interest into the dynamic of the Eco-Village and how their community worked. The first place we stopped while in Ireland was Cloughjordan. What was interesting about this village was the construction of the eco village and its relive location towards the center of the Cloughjordan. This eco village could have been located outside Cloughjordans main strip, but even though it was created well long after the village of Cloughjordan was founded it looks like it belonged there. Some interesting things I learned while staying at the eco village is that there is no one in charge of the village and that everybody their makes joint decisions. Mary, one of the residents, told us, “You learn love and hate everyone here”. That really stuck with me because in a community where everyone makes decisions instead of just one person being in charge things tend to get done slower. This was something I noticed about this community as they claim to be self-sustainable; however, they have not been able to use their solar panels they as a community purchased due to technical problems dating back 10 years. This is something I thought was interesting because that meant they got their electricity from somewhere else even though their motto is that they are:
When looking at their motto I found that their vision wasn’t being 100% achieved due to relying on outside energy. One thing I picked up on about the community is that everyone was there for a specific reason, and that was that they wanted to reduce their carbon footprint on the environment. This is something I saw throughout the village as they as a community tried to reduce waste, farm their own food, and reduced water usage. Seeing a community that truly believes that as a whole they could help make a difference was inspirational. While staying in the hostel, we came across apple juice that was for sale and asked about it. Pa, the owner of the hostel we stayed at, told us that they are sold by a member of the community and could also be bought up at the store ran by the hostel’s cook, Johanna and their husband. I thought it was interesting finding out that they tried to shop locally for their food unlike in America where majority of people shop at the supermarket. Overall I believe that if the eco-village wants to grow they need to fix their solar power issue to be fully self sustainable and work towards electing someone to make decisions for the community.
The turquoise, deep blue water surrounds the land. The bright green grass covers the land itself. The clear, clean water comes out of the faucet filling our glasses. Yet I found myself walking to the convenience stores to buy 1 liter plastic water bottles during my time in Ireland.
Ireland’s water in most of the country is drinkable right from the faucet with no filter in which amazed me coming from an urban area. I was shocked that we could fill our bottles right from the sink and pubs and that restaurants gave us tap water. However, I still found myself at the store buying huge plastic water bottles. Every store I entered nowhere in sight was there a reusable water bottle, which is shocking as Ireland’s goal is to be greener and reduce waste. Buying plastic water bottles are also cheaper if the bottle is bigger, 1 liter vs 16 oz. What was even more shocking was that the most beautiful turquoise, deep blue water I saw was on this islands, also surrounded solely by water, yet it was the only place on the western side of Ireland that had a water shortage. “How is it possible to have a water shortage when surrounded by water?” is the only question I could ask. Linda the hostel manager in Innis Oirr, the smallest island, said that it had not rained in months and the water in the reservoir was not enough for its residents and tourist to use, which is why the water was turned off for 12 hours a day, 830pm – 830am. When the drops of water began to fall from the sky the island residents were happy and wanted it to continue as the tourist all wanted it to stop, seeing it as a disadvantage. This island appreciated any little water that fell as they had so little, while in the United States, New Englanders despise when it rains.
Imagine getting ready to take a hot steamy shower after a long day of touring Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay. As I stepped into the shower I turned the nozzle up, turned the temperature gauge to the left and I expected the water to start flowing out, but the water did not turn on. I was confused, why didn’t it work? I walked into the other bedrooms and asked if their water was working. I watched as Emily slowly turned on the faucet and shower nozzle, but water did not pour out. I walked down the windy narrow steps of the hostel to the receptionist and no one was there. After a conversation with a Hostel employee the next morning, he informed me that earlier in May the Aran Islands inflicted night time restrictions on the public supply of water, due to a very dry spring season and historically low water levels. Locals on the island asked homes, businesses and visitors on the island to conserve water in every possible way, such as using only a little water to wash dishes and clothes, only flushing the toilet when needed and taking shorter showers. Originally the water supply was supposed to shut off at 11pm however the island decided to cut off the water supply at 8:30 pm due to the fact that the current restrictions were not sufficient enough. 8:30 pm to 8:30 am, a tough twelve hours that the water supply was shut off. I overheard two older men talking outside a local grocery store and I found out that it had not rained significantly in over two months, therefore the water tanks started to dry up. After eating dinner in Inis Oirr I found out that throughout the afternoon restaurant employees collect water from the faucet and put it aside for the evening after the water is shut off. The water that is collected is used to finish cooking customer’s orders and used to clean dishes. While I understand that residents and visitors should restrict their water usage during this dry season, I have never heard of any town actually shutting off their supply of water after a certain time. It must be very difficult for the employees to estimate how much water they will actually need that night. On the small island of Inis Oirr there is a large freshwater lake, Loch Mor however they can not use this water as drinking water.
How could an island that is surrounded by water be forced to endure nighttime water restrictions.
“I am sorry to inform you that we have to shut the water off from 8:30p.m. to 8:30a.m. while you stay here.” Those are not words anyone wants to hear while moving into a hostel nearing the night hours, but it makes you wonder why something like that would happen. Is it because they are trying to save money? I am sure that is what most people would assume at first because it’s Ireland, it rains almost 250 days a year. Well, that is not exactly true everywhere you go. There are some places in Ireland that are experiencing severe drought as of now and there is not much they can do to stop it. On the Aran Islands there has not been substantial rain in almost 15 weeks. I began to wonder, how is that possible? It rains everywhere else. I set out and found the answer to that question: as moisture and clouds are traveling from the ocean, they travel until they hit something where it triggers the release of the water as rain, typically on mountains or other high land. These islands are nearly completely flat, so all of the clouds are traveling right over while only drizzling a little rain at best, resulting in a major water shortage. Others may ask, well they are on an island – why can’t they just get water from the lakes and water around them? The answer to that is simple, the surrounding water is not clean at all. Ireland signifies the clarity and cleanliness of the bodies of water by flags. A blue flag signifies very clear and safe water, while a white flag signifies that the water is unclear and not suitable for consumption. The white flags are flying all over these islands, which also means that the tap water is not very safe for consumption.
The Irish government is getting a lot of backlash as of now for their recent proposal to tax and charge for the amount of water used by citizens. The reason the people of the nation are against this is because they believe water is a natural resource and that no one should have control over the pricing. It was clearly obvious as I talked to the locals that no one was very happy about not being able to use water after the set hours. However they are not complaining too much because it is what is necessary for the water to be sustainable. In my opinion, it is not difficult getting accustomed to the water ban, it just creates some small issues such as flushing toilets at night or showering, but nothing too important.