Democratic Party's Role in Trump's Victory.

Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to a racist, misogynist, lecherous, gun-loving, militaristic, anti-environmentalist, tax-avoidance, former bankrupt billionaire. Why? Because, as exposed by WikiLeaks, she is funded by a Wall Street, right-wing Israeli (as opposed to its ordinary citizens) and Saudi elite who shape her policies and favour a world order based on a triumphal globalisation of deregulation that has led to the destruction of indigenous American manufacturing industries and the loss of millions of jobs as their unpatriotic owners transferred their operations to countries where labour is cheap. 
The Democratic establishment secretively undermined the campaign of Bernie Sanders, one of their own presidential candidates, an honest progressive socialist who represented the only true alternative to Trump. Unlike Obama, he was prepared to mobilise the poor and middle classes, properly regulate the financial institutions, tax the wealthy, implement free health and higher education student funding, build infrastructure and dismantle free trade agreements such as NAFTA. 
Obama did some great things in office. But his failure to honour his populist “Yes We Can” motto by mobilising the nation to stand up to the banks and reform the economic system after the crash of 2008 led to his alienation from the impoverished masses. 
Trump filled the vacuum that the Democratic Party hierarchy helped create. But he represents a lie. In the area of economics for instance, real sustainable jobs lie partly in renewable manufacturing, renewable energies, non industrialised organic farming, IoT technologies and not in bringing back coal and increasing other fossil fuels extraction. Trump will start destroying the hard won global consensus on combatting climate change. Life in all its forms on the planet will suffer as a consequence.

Ireland's Longest Running Residents' Campaign finally to achieve success

Image may contain: 12 people , people smiling , crowd and outdoor

This photograph appeared this weekend in a very special pioneering edition of the Galway City Tribune that was provided free of charge to all households in the Ballinfoile-Castlegar locality of Galway city.
It shows a residents' protest in the summer of 1989 outside a meeting of city councillors in City Hall. They were demanding recreational and social facilities in a neighbourhood devoid of such essential community infrastructure even though each household had been levied £500-1000+ to pay for such.
This protest was a finale of a two year campaign that I helped organise. I was then still in my twenties. That evening we secured a series of outdoor sports and leisure facilities including playing fields, a playground, tennis courts, changing rooms and a parkland. We were overjoyed. But sadly it took another 27 years before we finally benefited from an indoor equivalent. It is a state-of-the-art complex comprising, foyer, multi-purpose rooms, Olympic size basketball court, catering area, changing rooms, carpark eetc located in the geographical heart of the locality. It will be publicly owned and managed by the local community in conjunction with the social service enterprise company known as SCCUL. This is great news and we welcome all who made it possible including the community activists, the present Council, council staff including Liam Hanrahan and Shraon Carroll and of course the ex Mayor Frank Fahy on whose watch the complex was completed.
But no community should have had to witness generations of their children being denied leisure facilities. Many of the kids that appear in the photo now have their own children. Some of the adults are no longer alive. So they never saw their hopes and dreams come true.
Since the coming of modern Ireland in the early 1970s and the corresponding growth in urban areas, it was the politically well-connected property speculators, builders and the developers who were allowed to make fortunes out of creating mile after mile of housing estates and streets devoid of community facilities for all ages. They created a soulless urban sprawl rather that resident-centred 'urban villages'.
In countries such as Austria, schools, parks, social centres, public transport and cycle networks are put in place before the people move in. Why not Ireland? People should come before the profit of a small coterie number of speculators.
Finally a big 'Bualadh Bos' to the present hard working team of fellow volunteer hardworking, dedicated, visionary and generous activists who finally secured success including Róisín Ní Fhearrachair, Tímea Becsák, Noelle Donnellan, Mags Douglas, Thomas Cox, Claudiu Baranyai Milagrosa Urroz, Sabrina Commins Tom Hanley, Paul Hayes, Justine Delaney Michele Chiperi, Una O’Connell and those who were with us until recently including stalwart Michael McDonnell, Helen Caird, Jamie McLaughlin, Laurence Daly, Valerie Pointer, Sheila Mangan, Keith McDonogh, Michael Tiernan. Caitriona Nic Mhuiris Suzanne McNena, Johanna Downes, Tom Costello, Frank Fahy, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh. Catherine Connolly TD. and those who helped initiate it all those years ago including Nevin Breen, Peter Rowland, Daibhi O'Cronin, Irene Duffy, Irene Hynes and Paul Tannian.
It was a pleasure to have worked with ye all. Now I can happily move on to other campaigns that hopefully won't take so long to conclude. For I don't have another 27 years left in me!!
Ballinfoile Mor/Castlegar Community Updates

Save Galway City's Green Spaces from the Bulldozer

A leading community activist has condemned as ‘environmental and health vandalism’ the proposals by Galway city council to advocate the construction of buildings and a road through the main urban parks as a betrayal of the hundreds of dedicated residents, scientists, teachers and youth who regularly give their time, energies and ideas to developing and maintaining the local authority’s woods, parks and green spaces for the benefit of the general public.  

According to Brendan Smith of the Terryland Forest Alliance, “There is a deep sense of shock and a feeling of betrayal amongst Galway’s army of environmental volunteers as we witness council officials undertaking a complete U-turn on long standing environmental policies, which will have serious negative consequences on people’s health, on air quality, on the education of our children, on the county’s commitment to combat global climate change and which will led to the destruction of sensitive wildlife corridors that have taken decades to nurture. We are calling on citizens and their elected representatives to save our city from what can only be described as institutional environmental and health vandalism and are hosting a public meeting on this issue at 7.30pm on Thursday November 24th in the Maldron Hotel near the Kirwan Roundabout on the Headford Road.”

Community made wildflower meadow in Terryland Forest Park, Summer 2916
In the last few weeks, we have been informed by City Hall that the Terryland Forest Park multi-sectoral steering committee that includes NUI Galway, GMIT, An Taisce, HSE, schools and communities can no longer met due to budgetary restrictions; that a road will be built through the same forest park; that an ancient meadow in Merlin Woods will be bulldozed to make way for a hospice in spite of suitable alterative sites existing nearby; that the council propose to make it illegal for children to climb trees and that the number of workers in park maintenance are being reduced. 

2008: 10,000+ people sign petition which successfully stopped a road being built through Terryland Forest Park
It is only a few years ago that a petition signed by over 10,000 Galwegians stopped a road being built through Terryland Forest Park, a park referred too as the “People’s Park” as most of its 100,000 trees were planted by the people of the city from March 2000 onwards. The council are ignoring the reasons why people did so. For the latest scientific research shows the fundamental importance of trees and nature to people’s well being, which is why the next generation of cities across the world are integrating parks, food gardens and forests into their urban infrastructures. Ireland has the highest rate of obesity and weight excess in Europe whilst over 20% of our young people suffer from some form of mental health disorder, much of which can stem from what is known as Nature Deficit Disorder(NDD).  Experiencing the clean air as well as the calming and stimulation effect of the ‘Great Outdoors’ is now being promoted by the medical profession worldwide as an alternative to the costly drugs and pill culture.

Hence for the sake of our citizens, our future generations and our planet the council’s retrograde steps to design out biodiversity must be halted.

These brutal actions make a mockery of the city being declared a green capital of Europe as the EU Green Leaf City 2017. Projects involving community volunteers played a key role in securing this international accolade. Activists were therefore hoping that the city’s new found international eco-status would led to significant investment and progress being made in promoting greater public access to parks; in overcoming anti-social activity such as illegal dumping and bush drinking in bogs, parks and woodlands; in finally moving forward on the Galway city-Clifden Greenway and in supporting park-based nature learning initiatives for children.  
The Outdoor Classroom
Over the last year, scientists, technologists, teachers, health experts and environmentalists have begun working together to commence the process of transforming Terryland into a huge Outdoor Classroom and Outdoor Laboratory for our educational institutions that could also provide major tourist benefit. 
Traditional Mowing of widlflower meadow in Terryland Forest Park
Heritage enthusiasts have started to use it as a learning hub for traditional rural skills and crafts including the creation of native wildflower meadows where the grass is mowed by using hand held scythes, scarecrow-making events for children, and the introduction of horse drawn ploughing into the park’s organic garden.

Yet we are now faced with the extraordinary situation that the council has decided that Galway’s communities can no longer be involved in developing a park that they actually founded. This decision is the antithesis of civic engagement, a cornerstone of the city’s development strategy. 
Community Tree Planting

Hence there is a genuine fear that the Green Leaf award could become nothing more than mere window dressing, a title without substance, a Greenwash. The council authorities are it seems treating forests and parks as a reserve land bank to be chipped away when land is needed to be cemented and tarmaced over. Not for nothing is Terryland officially recognised as the ‘Lungs of the City’; its nearly 100,000 trees that were mostly planted by the people of Galway since 2000 provide the oxygen needs of up to 400,000 people, absorb over a decade 3,800 metric tons of the carbon dioxide gas that is contributing to global warming and provide  €4.64 billion worth of air pollution control over 50 years. This park, stretching from the wetlands of the Corrib along the Dyke Road to the farmlands of Castlegar, has the potential to be even important to Galway than the Phoenix Park is to Dublin. But it is been denied the public resources that it so urgently needs whilst funds and support from steering committee members are being ignored.

We as concerned citizens see ourselves as the defenders of the council’s own recreational, health, community and environmental policies. We are not going to let officialdom destroy our precious life-giving wildlife habitats and green spaces. 

The community and environmental sector should once again be viewed as equal partners whose actions over the years have brought many benefits to the quality of life in the city, including stopping the construction of a giant municipal incinerator and its replacement by the first three bin waste recycling system in Ireland as well as the introduction of the country’s first cash-for-cans scheme.”

Preparing the Garden for the Horse & Plough

 Volunteers are needed this Saturday (Nov 12) from 11am in the Ballinfoile Mór Community Organic Garden to help prepare this neighbourhood facility for a very special vistor on the following Saturday. In a sight not seen for many decades, a horse and plough on November 19th will work the ground of this organic garden located in the Terryland Forest Park.

This is a significant environmental event for Galway and hopefully signals the start of one of the key processes in protecting the soils of the city. Soil, water and air are the basic ingredients of life on the planet. Over the last 50 years, Irish agricultural soils have been seriously degraded by the intensification of farming characterised by the use of large machinery, heavier castle breeds, overgrazing, pesticides and herbicides. Soils have been denied organic materials which is one of its key components; has been contaminated with chemicals and become compacted. This compression of the soils has resulted in flooding as water cannot filter down.
Science tells us that the answer to enriching the soils once again is a combination of farming organically and in using animals such as the horse to plough and to harrow the land. Horses don’t need petrol. Feed them on the hay grown in the lands and their manure can be used to fertilise the soils.

In anticipation of the historic return of a horse and plough to urban Galway, we are asking for as many volunteers as possible to join us this Saturday (Nov 12th) from 11am in order to help in preparing our organic garden with a myriad of exciting tasks such as mowing the ground using hand-held scythes, laying down paths for visitors and in clipping/pruning trees and bushes.

Cyberbullying, Internet Safety & Female Objectification.

Over the last few weeks I have spent considerable time visiting primary, post primary and special needs schools talking to children, youth, teachers and parents in counties Clare and Galway on Cyberbullying and Internet Safety.
My work coincided with the lead-up to Mental Health Week.
Thankfully I have so far got very good feedback from the schools that I have visited (see comments below).

Due to a growing disconnect with Nature, too much time spent indoors, an over-reliance on smart devices, peer pressure to conform, body image, exam pressures, stress, lack of job security, isolation, easy access to drugs and cheap alcohol, 20% of our young people in Ireland are suffering from mental health issues. in 2013, circa 7,000 young people harmed themselves.
I always promote the importance of fostering a sense of community, of place, of self-esteem and of belonging; and that we have to look out for each other. In an increasingly disconnected urban sprawl environment, we need to bring the interdependence 'Meitheal' spirit of old rural Ireland into the 21st century city.
Most crucial is that we should always talk to some one we trust if we are experiencing pain including that of being bullied. Never keep a problem to oneself. We should come to each other's aid rather than ignore the humiliation of some one else out of fear of being picked on.

Whilst all ages and sexes are suffering, it is teenagers and particularly teenage girls that are increasingly becoming victims of abuse and harassment. In Iraq and elsewhere, ISIS and similar extremists are forcing captive women into sex slavery. In the West, young women are being disproportionately targetted on the Internet and forced to endure crass sexual comments and threats. Much more so than men, it is women that have been the prime victims of the World Wide Web since its early years. Teenage girls are the biggest prisoners of online porn.

In the 1990s the first well-known victim of the Web was Monica Lewinsky, who had an affair with President Bill Clinton. Whilst he was lauded by many as a 'boyo', Monica was publicly lambasted as a slut, a slag, a bitch, a whore...

Little has changed if we view the 'laddish' behaviour of American presidential candidate Donald Trump.
But it is up to all of us to tackle misogyny in all its forms, racism, sectarianism and give comfort to those that are humiliated. Stand up for each other.

Feedback from schools:

Silvia Griffin Lakeview School
"I really want to thank you for an excellent presentation yesterday evening to the parents association, they found it very informative. As I said I enjoyed your style, a mixture of technology  and humanistic  approach to your professional life.... Parents have already expressed huge  interest, in attending your  workshop...".

Glenamaddy Community College, 3rd year students
"I found this talk really interesting and I'm now aware of it (cyber bullying) in my life."

"I thought the talk was good in that everything was included to know about cyber bullying. It was sad near the end but it was valuable information that we can use for life."

"It was very helpful and I learned a lot from it. It was very interesting."

"I found the talk very interesting. I learned a lot from this talk and not to ever bully anyone."  

Senior cycle student, county Galway
"I really enjoyed your presentation today as it was the first time I had seen an adult discuss with teens the (sometimes violent) sexualization of teenage girls on the internet and in the porn industry. You were non-judgmental, and made sure to highlight the long term effects on the victims, without any victim-blaming. I think that it is a very important subject to talk about with young people and you handled it brilliantly..."

'Galway Goes Live’ in Istanbul

Over the last few months I have taught volunteer mentors across the Middle East, as part of the Refugee Code Week (RCW) initiative, without leaving Galway. For thanks to the power of SAP Webinar, I now give live workshops and lectures to people all over the world from my own city. As a result of this state-of-the art video conferencing software, I was actually lecturing (in a virtual sense) in Brazil during the Rio Olympics!

In spite of its misuse by so many of our fellow man, modern technology can be a wonderful force for good, bringing joy and positive benefits to the world. None more so that ‘webinars’.

Over the weekend. I provided two training workshops to the students of ISIK University in Istanbul in advance of them mentoring to Syrian refugee children living in Turkey. There are over 2.5 million Syrians in this country, victims of a war that is becoming ever more brutal.
Photograph shows students in Istanbul watching the screen which I am controlling from Galway.
I have to thank most sincerely Professor Rabia Karakaya Polat for encouraging her students to support this learn-to-code project, to Elie Laurence Karam and Frank Falvey of SAP for facilitating the webinars and to Claire Gillissen, Batoul Husseini, Ibrahim Khafagy and Bernard Kirk for setting up and maintaining RCW.
As you know, I also work 'on the ground' in countries such as Turkey and Jordan. Which is of course my favourite method of teaching!

Plans for a Festival of Scarecrows in Galway

Thanks to the enthusiastic efforts of the children of Scoil San Phroinsias Tirellan Heights and the Sunny Meadows preschool as well as local teenagers from housing estates such as Lus Leana, dozens of colourful scarecrows of all shapes and sizes populated the vegetable beds of the Ballinfoile Mór Community Organic Garden as part of last Sunday’s Celebration of Local Community event.

 In spite of the initial heavy rainfall, hundreds of local residents still came attracted not just by the army of scarecrows but also the horse shoes being fired at the blacksmithy forge by members of Cumann na bhFear (Men’s Shed) the giant outdoor clay oven that provided free pizzas to the attendees; the face-painting, the wooden toys workshop; the Smoothies stall and the home-made foods such as apple tarts created from the fruit and vegetable produce of the community garden.

Gabriel Henry with his granddaughter Amy Henry with the scarecrow that she and her class made
The children who visited Sunday’s outdoor community event were so excited to see the scarecrows that they created positioned in the vegetable beds, an enthusiasm that spilled over to their accompanying parents and grandparents. The experience was for them so magical as if each of the scarecrows seemed to have its own personality as well as its unique physical shape. 

So we have decided to discuss with local schools and youth groups the hosting of an annual festival of scarecrows commencing next spring, the season when up until a few decades ago these human-like structures made from old clothes and wood were positioned in fields to discourage birds from feeding on recently planted seeds and growing crops. This garden activity will form part of a revival of rural skills taking place in the locality which has also seen educational classes in blacksmithing and wood turning taking place at the Cumann na bhFear (Men’s Shed Ballinfoile) and the mowing of a wildflower meadow using scythes in the Terryland Forest Park. 

Save the Bees & other pollinators - Make a Wildflower Meadow tomorrow (Sat)

After the success of the first meadow making project in Terryland Forest Park which started last year with the planting of thousands of wildflowers and continued with its recent mowing by hand-held scythes, volunteers are requested to take part in creating a second traditional field habitat that will become an important haven for native Irish flora and for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths and beetles whose existence is threatened by
pollution, invasive species, urbanization, loss of habitat and the use of pesticides and herbicides in modern farming. 

We require lovers of Nature to start the process tomorrow (Sat) in transforming another sterile green field into a lush colourful meadow alive with the sights, smells and sounds of birds, insects and flowers. The first phase of this project will involve seeding and raking the ground with yellow rattle, a plant which curbs the growth of grass thus allowing the planted wildflower seeds to take root.
This field is located in the section of Terryland Forest Park behind Sandyvale Lawn
So we ask you to please join us tomorrow and Help Save the Bees and other pollinators
Rendezvous: 10.30am at Sandyvale Lawn

Traditional Mowing of a Meadow- the Return of the Scythe.

After an absence of many decades, next Saturday (August 20th) will see the return to Galway city of the mowing of a wildflower meadow using traditional hand-held implements. Starting at 10.30am members of Cumann na bhFear, also known as Men’s Shed Ballinfoile, will use scythes to cut the long grass in a meadow in Terryland Forest Park near the Quincentenary Bridge. 
The event is part of Heritage Week and organised with Galway Civic Trust

Last autumn, dozens of volunteers from Conservation Volunteers planted over one thousand native wildflowers in what was up until then a sterile lawn in Terryland. Their actions transformed it into a rainbow mosaic of yellow cowslip, red poppy, purple clover, pink ragged robin, white daisy oxeyes and many other flowers. In times gone by, a 'meadow' was defined as a field set aside by farmers for the growing of long grass which was cut during the summer and autumn months to produce one or two crops of hay to serve as winter food for livestock. Because no chemical fertilizers were used, these meadows became important habitats for an array of colourful native wildflowers and would be alive with the sights and sounds of many varieties of bees, moths, butterflies and other pollinators. 
 Our aim is to re-introduce meadows back unto the city and provide nectar-rich feeding havens for bees in particular which are in a serious decline worldwide due to industrialised monoculture farming, pesticides, habitat loss, pollution and climate change. Bees and other pollinators are essential to the survival of humanity as the plants that they help to reproduce are responsible for one-third of all foods and beverages that we consume. 
The Cumann is also committed to preserving and re-educating the public in traditional Irish rural skills and crafts that still have an essential role to play in today’s farming because of their social, health, economic and environmental aspects.
So we are asking people to come along next Saturday to witness this ancient rural hay-cutting in action and to take part in planting nearly a thousand more wildflowers with Conversation Volunteers Galway city. Light refreshments will be provided to all volunteers. 

Enjoy the Benefits of Community Gardening

Community Organic Gardening has wonderful health, social and environmental benefits to offer all of us. A few hours working with others in the 'Great Outdoors' every week amongst the plants and trees can reduce stress, provide access to locally grown organic foods to improve personal diet as well as presenting opportunities to become active members of our neighborhood and the greater community of Galway.

The Ballinfoile Mór Community Organic Garden at this time of the year is, as with horticulturalist farmers across Ireland, busily preparing for the annual harvesting of food crops that will take place in a few weeks. But after the ‘wear and tear’ of a busy period since Spring and the need to expand on its facilities, assistance is also needed in improving the overall maintenance of this green resource. This includes communal painting, pond construction, path repairing, and bug hotel building.
At the end of the communal work on Saturday, there will of course be refreshments for all volunteers to enjoy together including fruit tarts made from apples collected from the garden’s own orchard.

Rendezvous: 10.30am, Saturday, August 13th.
Google Maps location:

Galway 2020 - Let's Take Ownership

I enjoyed attending, along with my lovely wife Cepta (centre), and good friends Niall O Brolchain​ and Joyce McGreevy​, the party at the Cornstore to celebrate Galway city and county being awarded European City of Culture 2020.  Good to meet up too with people such as Karl Sweeney​  who are prime proponents of volunteer leadership in our region.
Galway 2020 volunteer Marto Hoary with Cepta & Joyce
I thought that it was appropriate that the happy gathering took place outside the legendary bookshop of Charlie Byrne. His premises is of course a repository of world and Irish cultural literature. The man himself was also a fellow student (& housemate) of mine when the Galway Arts Festival, spawned from Ollie Jennings​ and his associates in the UCG ArtsSoc, was in its infancy.
As mentioned in a previous posting, the 2020 team, that included Marilyn Gaughan Reddan​, Tracy Geraghty​, Nollaig McGuinness​, Niall O'Hara and Patricia Philbin, enthusiastically embraced so many elements of local society in the bidding process- neighborhoods, localities, asylum seekers, environmentalists. schools, colleges, youth, heritage, technology, arts, science, rural and urban. All were made to feel active contributors if they so wished. In so doing, the team recognised 'Culture' as being part of everything that makes us Galwegian, from our work to our play, from indigenous to new ethnicity.
Galway's most famous photographer Joe Shaughnessy with Joyce, Cepta and Philip Cloherty

Now it is up to each of us who value our peoples to grab the opportunities now being presented and to ensure that our own sectoral  vision comes through.
I recognize this in my own professional areas of technology, science and heritage learning. But wearing 'my other hat',  I also want to encourage my fellow community and environmental activists also do likewise especially as we have recently being awarded European Green Leaf City for 2017 which was led by Sharon Carroll​, another great advocate of progressive change and a strong supporter of community engagement.
Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture​ -it is ours to lose.

Global War on Women: Pakistani social media star strangled to death by her brother.

Qandeel Baloch, a young social media star from Punjab who highlighted the right of women to be independent and equal through her online and sometimes provocative comments, photos and videos, was strangled to death by her brother in an apparent 'honour killing'.

Every year hundreds of Pakistani women are killed for supposedly 'dishonouring' their families. I abhor the term 'honour' in this context. Whose 'honour'? Certainly not that of females. What gives men the right of life and death over women in order to satisfy their warped sense of 'honour'?

In every country and in every culture women today are being victimised, from being imprisoned, raped and trafficked across borders to serve the sexual predatory whims of males in North America & Europe; to female genital mutilation; to be given as war trophies to Boko Haram and ISIS fighters; to being denied equality in job opportunities and in law. Women are always the first and main casualties of wars, and of course all such brutal conflicts are started by men.
We need to confront these misogynistic crimes that are committed against half the world's population and which are 'justified' on grounds of religious and cultural traditions.

July 21st Guided Bat Walk in Terryland Forest Park

The Return of the Batwoman!

On next Thursday (July 21st) night, the Batwoman, aka Dr. Caitriona Carlin, returns to Galway city to undertake yet another night-time investigation of the presence of bats in Terryland Forest Park. You are invited to take part in this event. Rendezvous: 10pm Dunnes Stores (Headford Road) car park.
The public event will be hosted by the Galway Bat Group.

Field studies undertaken by students from NUI Galway in late 2015 found six species of bat living in the park - Leisler, Daubenton, Brown Long-eared, Nathusias pipistrelle, Common pipistrelle and Soprano pipistrelle.
The walk is free and open to the public. For those taking part in the walk, please remember to wear suitable walking shoes and to bring rain gear. Children are encouraged to take part but must be accompanied by an adult.
The walk will commence in the section of the Terryland Forest Park behind Dunnes Stores, moving towards the woodlands adjacent to the Liosbaun business park.-Bat detectors will be available to go around on the evening.
All are welcome!

Tomorrow (Jul 2). 'Go Wild' at Night-time in Terryland Forest Park: Take part in a Guided Bat Walk.

The Galway branch of the Irish Wildlife Trust will host a public bat walk in Terryland Forest Park tomorrow (Saturday July 2nd) from 9.30pm in association with Galway Bat Group.
A scientific survey by students from NUI Galway undertaken under the stewardship of Dr. Catriona Carlin in late 2015 found six species of bat living in the park - Leisler, Daubenton, Brown Long-eared, Nathusias pipistrelle, Common pipistrelle and Soprano pipistrelle.
The walk is free and open to the public. For those taking part in the walk, please remember to wear suitable walking shoes and to bring rain gear. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.
The walk will commence in the section of the Terryland Forest Park behind Dunnes Stores, moving towards the woodlands adjacent to the Liosbaun business park.
Meet up at 9.30pm in the Dunnes Stores car park.
Bat detectors will be available to go around on the evening.
All are welcome!

Iceland and Ireland Capture the Hearts of the World at Euro 16.

The fans of Iceland and Ireland truly made the experience of those watching and those attending Euro 2016 in France an enjoyable one. Their vibrant infectious presence and their kindness towards others saved the football championships from being hijacked by right wing racist nationalists from a number of countries who wanted to transform a celebration of sport into a bloody international battlefield. These thugs came to France hell bent on grabbing the world media’s headlines by unleashing a sense of fear amongst the crowds within the stadiums as well as a trail of destruction in the city centre’s of Marseilles, Lille, Saint-Étienne and elsewhere. The scenes of violence that filled television screens and newspapers would have been the abiding memory of Euro 2016 where it not for the happy smiling faces of the Irish and Icelanders fans, both male and female, both young and old, who made the event a festive occasion for all.
Of course fans from other countries also contributed to the festive atmosphere. Likewise the performance of other small nations such as Wales and Northern Ireland. But the Irish and Icelanders were something very special. The emotional collective singing of 'rebel ballads' by the Irish fans in stadia across France stirred the hearts of those listening. The knowledge that up to 10% of the Icelandic population traveled en-masse to France to support their team has earned the respect of everyone. Plus that eerie never-to-be-forgotten guttural chant of the players and fans at the end of the match against England- it was spellbinding, almost primeval. (Note: its origins are from Motherwell Scotland!).
As well as being a proud Irishman, I have fond memories of the years I spent living in Reykjavik and the friendships of Icelanders such as Margrét Valsdóttir and Gudrídur Haraldsdotttir. So I wish Iceland my very best in the match against France

Creating a Bluebell Woods: Terryland Forest Park

After the success of last year's major native wildflower 'meadow' project and the recent Wild Garlic planathon, the transformation of Terryland Forest Park into an urban biodiversity zone of multiple habitats continues this Saturday with the creation of a Bluebell Woods. 
The efforts of volunteers in Terryland Forest Park is helping to reverse the serious decline of wildflowers in Ireland over the last 50 years which has impacted so negatively on our indigenous wildlife, from insects to mammals.
Many of Ireland’s native wildflowers face extinction due to pollution, invasive species, urbanization, loss of habitat and intensive commercial farming. The use of pesticides and herbicides in farming in order to increase specific crop yields has meant that wildflowers and pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies are being poisoned. Hence flora and fauna species are declining alarmingly and a countryside that was once populated with flowers representing all the colours of the rainbows, that throbbed to the sounds of a wide of variety bees and birds is sadly becoming a thing of the past.
Help undo this process and to save Ireland’s indigenous flowers and associated pollinating insects and bats. Under the expert tutelage of Padraic Keirns, Conservation Volunteers Galway and Conservation Volunteers Terryland Forest Park are once again teaming up to organise another major re-flowering within Terryland Forest Park. This time it will be in woods near the Quincenntennial Bridge.
Ragged Robin in the wildflower meadow in Terryland Forest Park that was started on in August 2015
Nearly 1,000 plants have again been collected for Saturday's 'plantahon' with the primary species being 'bluebell' as we continue to create thematic flora areas in certain locations within this 180 acres nature and farmland reserve.
So we ask you to please join us on this Saturday(July 2nd).
Rendezvous: 10am near the Curry's (Galway Retail Park) entrance to Terryland Forest Park.
Google Map link:

Tony Blair: Legacy of Death & Destruction

Tony Blair, the man who co-instigated (with George W. Bush) the Iraq War that fractured the Middle East, destroyed multi religious societies, led to 500,000+ deaths, caused millions of people to become refugees, spawned ISIS & other terrorist organisations and who benefits from huge payments given to him by anti democratic elites now has the audacity to label Jeremy Corbyn a 'dangerous experiment'!

Why does the BBC and other media organisations waste viewers time and taxpayers monies to broadcast the lies and delusions of a failed politician who should be prosecuted for war crimes?  
On today's Andrew Marr Show (BBC) the ex Greek Foreign Minister Yanis Varoufakis was brilliant when he said that Blair's decision to get involved in Keep Britain in the EU would only benefit the Brexit campaign as he is a glass of poison to any campaign that he gets involved in. Varoufakis also commented that the best outcome for humanity would be for Tony Blair to be forgotten and to be treated with the contempt that he deserves. I

Creating a 'Wild Garlic Woods' in Terryland Forest Park

Many of Ireland’s native wildflowers face extinction due to pollution, invasive species, urbanization, loss of habitat and intensive commercial farming. The use of pesticides and herbicides in farming in order to increase specific crop yields has meant that wildflowers and pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies are being poisoned. Hence flora and fauna species are declining alarmingly and a countryside that was once populated with flowers representing all the colours of the rainbows, that throbbed to the sounds of a wide of variety bees and birds is sadly becoming a thing of the past.

Help reverse this process and to save Ireland’s indigenous flowers and associated pollinating insects and bats. Under the expert tutelage of Padraic Keirns, Conservation Volunteers Galway and Conservation Volunteers Terryland Forest Park are once again teaming up to organise another major re-flowering within Terryland Forest Park. This time it will be in woods near the Quincenntennial Bridge.
Over 1,000 plants have been collected for Saturday's 'plantahon' with the primary species being 'wild garlic' as we attempt to create thematic flora areas in certain locations within this 180 acres nature and farmland reserve.

So we ask you to please join us on this Saturday(May 28th).
Rendezvous: 11am near the Curry's (Galway Retail Park) entrance to Terryland Forest Park.
Google Map link:

Rwanda: An African Phoenix arisen from the ashes

Last week I was working in Rwanda helping in the introduction of coding programmes into schools across this land of a thousand hills. This is my second assignment to a country that suffered one of the most brutal genocides of the 20th century. In 1994 over 800,000 Tutsi and Hutu were massacred by supporters of an extremist Hutu regime.
However Rwanda has experienced an unprecedented transformation since those dark days of bloodletting and insanity. The results of a focused national government strategy of reconciliation, justice, female empowerment, education, health, anti-corruption, environmental protection, community development, construction, entrepreneurialism, technology and innovation can be seen everywhere. Whilst there are reports of curtailment of media freedom and of the political opposition amongst some commentators, nevertheless there is huge support for the government’s policies in the population at large which has pulled the country out of the abyss of ethnic violence that killed numbers equivalent to the victims of the Irish Famine and which sadly still rages in neighbouring Burundi.  There is definitely a palpable sense of nationhood and community solidarity amongst its people. I will write more about my experiences of Rwanda in a more detailed blog article next month focusing not just on its current digital revolution but also on topics such as its village communal justice system (Gacaca) and its biodiversity programmes.

This month I was once again part of a team of volunteers working within the highly ambitious Africa Code Week initiative established in 2015 by a partnership of SAP, Galway Education Centre and the Cape Town Science Centre spearheaded by the wonderful Claire Gillissen​ Bernard Kirk​ and Julie Cleverdon​. In our first foray into Rwanda last October we worked from two buses that were fully fledged futuristic mobile IT classrooms moving from school to school training teachers and children. The lead mentors were drawn from across Europe and included highly motivated folk such as Nuala Allen​, Stefan Alexandru Florea​ and Véronique Desegaulx​.  In the process we were also training in and assisted by a panel of keen volunteer youth from Kigali’s KLabs and associated innovator start-ups co-ordinated by the excellent Aphrodice Foyo Mutangana​. This time my European colleagues of Veronique, Kevin Morrissey​ and myself enjoyed watching the indigenous youngsters that we had trained previously (directly and by online learning tutorials) take ownership of delivering most of the classes to the pupils and teachers of the schools that we visited. These young ‘uns (Arnold, Nshuti Gacinya Olivier, Vanessa and Herve) were top class in their presentations and content, giving us a strong feeling of personal satisfaction as we witnessed our previous efforts now bearing fruit. We realise that, with the support of these young men and women, the Africa Code Week project can and is becoming sustainable. It is indeed putting down deep roots into the continent’s soil. 
The Rwanda government has a plan to increase the percentage of the population that are online from its present 13% to 95% by the end of this year. With the rollout of 4G mobile network and a generation of technology mentors and teachers, there is no reason why this will not be achieved. At so many levels, Rwanda represents the face of a new confident Africa. It can be a template for so many other countries across a continent that is changing at an unprecedented level.