Friday 20 September 2019

'You will learn to create funky eco warrior outfits from junk'

Youth workshop that upcycles clothing in Ballinasloe, Co Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
Youth workshop that upcycles clothing in Ballinasloe, Co Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure

Feted as the new, must-have superfood, seaweed is currently enjoying a wave of popularity not seen on these shores since pre-Famine times. Having been valued for its health and environmental benefits, the country quickly lost its appetite for algae when all the starving citizens could muster during the Great Hunger of 1845-1849 was a cry for kelp.

“Seaweed became deemed ‘poor food’ in Ireland,” says William McElhinney who runs the Wild Strands Caife at Malin Head Community Centre in Donegal. “This association with poverty is an unspoken legacy of the Famine that to an extent continues today. We need to leave a new legacy for future generations so that they can take pride in this natural resource.”

From 10am to 12.30pm on June 15 nature-loving kids will get a chance to connect with that resource in a Seaweed Safari on Malin Head. The youngsters will forage for seaweed on the beach, discovering and touching some of the many types of algae found in rock pools and along the shore – sea lettuce, kelp, dulse, carrageen moss and other varieties.

And then they’ll head back to the award-winning Wild Strands Caife for a family feast of soup made with local organic vegetables, dulse bread and hand-churned butter.

Book a place by text to (085) 105 3893, or via messenger on Facebook at Wildstrandscaife.

Positive messages will also abound on Bere Island in west Cork for a day of traditional dance and drama. Where once 2,000 people lived on the small island off the Beara Peninsula, now there are just 180, and the islanders take pride in their habitat.

In 2017, Bere Island scooped the top prize in an Island BioBlitz competition, run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The contest challenged communities of five of Ireland’s offshore islands to identify and record as many wildlife species as they could within 24 hours.

“Our people got together and recorded over 1,900 types of flora and fauna,” says John Walsh, community co-ordinator of the Bere Island Projects Group. 

“The local primary school, Scoil Mhicil Naofa, has just 17 students, all of whom learn about issues like global energy, the need to save water and why it’s good to walk or cycle to school. Families get together for litter picks and beach cleans, and young people are actively involved in community radio.”

They’ll be demonstrating their broadcasting skills on June 15 when children will interview, among others, John Joe Sullivan, a Bere Island native who emigrated to the States and is back to talk about life on the island.

The event runs from 2-4pm in the Bere Island Heritage Centre.

On the west coast, Galway teens are putting their best fashion foot forward with an eco-themed event called Dress for Less. Running from 11am-12.30pm at the Storehouse in Ballinasloe, this is a workshop, swap shop and fashion show promoting upcycling, recycling, buying from charity shops and being creative with clothes.

“It was the idea of local youth group Get Lippy, whose premise is that too much fashion goes into landfills,” says Maria Coyne Twomey, Youth Work Ireland Galway. “They got together with another group, Sew Last Season, who will show participants how they can make new garments from old or jazz up an outfit with a little creativity, a sewing machine, fabric paint or glue.

“A facilitator will demonstrate how to create funky eco warrior outfits from junk like plastic bottles and coffee capsules.”

Irish Independent

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