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The Real Green Irish Company

peter doneganIn conversation with a friend of mine this week, I got talking about the multi-national companies and the not so international, in Ireland.

Let me clarify that. It was not a doom and gloom usual type of ‘Irish televison does more poltical type programmes than it does sport type of natter‘.

To the point. What we were chatting about was the fact that being green is seen as a good thing. If nothing else, from a PR/ public relations perspective.

To an extent, it seems the huge card-board cheque that was held for the usual photo shoot has been replaced. And let’s be vaguely honest about it, within the next week there will be a small plethora of the not unusual type of photographs of some gentlemen in a shirt and tie, laptop in one hand, a unicycle in the other with possibly a lovely lady or two somewhere in the photo frame. All of them smiling and jumping for joy about [random example] reducing the energy they may consume or the all new brand spanking green gadget that will save the planet.

Over coffee we queried and quizzed and pondered

I wonder just how green are these companies, really ?

The imaginary company in my head is based in an industrial – the name says it all – estate, or in Dublin City Centre. It doesn’t really matter. We came up the suggestion that Mr Tokoyama, my imaginary friend who likes to invest in Green Irish Businesses, takes a trip to The Emerald Isle to see into just what and where his money will go.

Que the man in the illuminous yellow security jacket and blue cap stands out of the steel structured security box and opens the barrier to the large concrete expanse of a car-park. The tall building entrance is there to greet and it surrounded by a landscape that was most likely designed pre the [potentially non] Irish company deciding that logistically or fiscally this would be a fine building for them.

As we cross checked and dissected water dispensers and light bulbs, heating systems and ventilation units all the way down to the alternates of opening a window as versus air cooling systems, we spoke about the re-use of envelopes and writing cheques and driving into work. And as the varying sub headings poured off the top of my pencil, all the while the words industrial and estate sat as the header in one column as people and happy sat in the other. The words alone, simply do not sit well together.

We spoke about the alternate. The change. The mind set.

We proposed that our imaginary company stay in the industrial estate. That bit is important. But we proposed that the landscape be handed over to the employees.

What I suggested was that the grounds and surrounds be turned to allotments. This not only saves the company money on grounds maintenance and grass cutting, but it gives the people who work there a reason to stay after work if nothing else but to manage their greens. Not only this, but now picture Mr Tokoyama coming up the driveway.

We pictured the security inspector stand beside his hut now complete with a living green roof. The water run off from the office roof is now managed into water butts which would be used for irrigating the allotment spaces and once per month the excess vegetables and fruit would be sold at a lunch time staff only farmers type market that would be held in the grounds of the now extremely interesting landscape.

There is of course the point were if the car park was being resurfaced that it could be done in grass that cars can drive across – but this was in our long term plan, for now at least. This of course before we get to the electric car charge points and the in-house mini-version of the Dublin Bike Scheme.

Back to it – where grass remains mulching mowers would be specified and used causing now no need at all for the charge of green waste and reducing the amount of diesel and petrol. And where necessary composting areas now existed that could and would be filled with green waste, shredded paper and lunch time apple butts all ready to be re-used in the growing gardens.

The chat steered sideways with workplace conversation now about garden advice. The dilemma that one may face when they decided to take their holidays and to whom and what instructions would be left to look after ones plot.

Solar panels for autumn lighting, wind turbines to make a cuppa on a winters evening and the annual inter departmental mammoth pumpkin and onion growing competition. Wildlife and biodiversity walks and talks in an industrial estate ?? Garden classes held in the grounds, the official opening, donating the food for a local fundraiser – the press and the public relations would quite simply be endless.

If nothing else my good friend did hollar

Can you imagine that for a staff newsletter….?

Internationally, should you be able to imagine that on a company blog, the words admirable and exemplary immediately come to mind. Personally, I think the response would be phenomenol and rightly so.

Being perceived as being green is one thing. Being really green it seems is another. I’d like to meet the CEO who makes that call.

Contact Peter Donegan

The Real Green Irish Company, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 26th September

St Valentines Shouldn’t Cost The Earth …?

I got a ghetto blaster for Valentines day……. Look! It’s even got a twin deck record cassette system….  I reeeeaaaally L-O-V-E that gurl….

For me, when I got to about the age of 22, the big splash had been made. I bought her a VHS player…. ja uber romantische!  but that was pre jewelery days and very much in the he said she said ‘if you hurt my friend…‘ best friend speech days…. ah the memories!

If you remember the above bits I’ll assume your birth date is pre Wham! [ala George Michael careless whisper era] and you are thinking of that next thing to do – that, that is getting just that little bit more difficult to conjure up….

As a rule, I never do flowers on Valentines Day. Never. Well I did once. I made the bouquet myself about ten years ago for her and I just got giggled at. Anyhow, gardeners giving flowers,  is a bit like Alex Ferguson giving his wife a DVD of ‘Man Utd’s best goals against Aresnal’. It simply doesn’t feel right.

Jokes aside…. but not really… I like the quirky side. I say quirky. I mean, whatever is the opposite of…

Here ye go love, box of turkish delight there for ye… I’ll see ye after the match yeah…

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I have a list in my head of things to do for the day. It may have taken me 0.4 seconds to collate mentally – but that’s just how my brain works in my personal life 😉

And if I see you removing a wheel barrow [red bow wrapped around it] from the rear wind screen of your prized sports car… I’ll know you weren’t paying attention….

To that, I still hand-make the card myself. The last one was from a cornflakes box and covered in matt black card and red ribbon. I then wrote a poem and put that in the middle. A made look old black and white photo went on the front. You’ll have to use your own imagination [and your own photo! ] but it looked really cool. Was a little green and homemade is always better of course …isn’t it?

Second on the list is breakfast in bed. Some fresh coffee  [the grinds of which will go on the mulch heap], poached eggs [taken from the hens that reside out my back garden] and some homemade brown bread. You could always buy some hens as a gift… ? That’d be different 😉

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After that it’s on to one of my favourite parks, Newbridge Demesne. This year Valentines Day is on the sunday so a little day trip out will fit perfectly. I like walking this park. I like the tea shop and I love the wee farm that’s out the back. It may not be your nearest park – but I have a list of parks I’ve reviewed here. I may just just bring the picnic and the flask of tea and coffee.

This post isn’t about me making myself look all wonderful and fantastic [even though I may already 🙄 😆 ] It may just however make your Valentines a little more romantic, a bit less commercialised and at the same time a little greener. And wouldn’t that be nice 🙂

I guess I don’t see what’s wrong with planting a tree for someone you love and watching it grow, together. And isn’t that a nice idea ?

Anyhow… from sometime ago here’s that poem I spoke about. For no aparent reason I titled it Balderdash:

Licking stamps eyes closed wide
Holding hands a winters tide
Cealing kisses an envelope torn
And doth returns the summers mourn

Fussy, would he is he can?
Holding hands when all began
Crossing roads an intersect, scorn
And lovers cry together reborn

A smile a glance a passing face
A flowers petals stripped of lace
Warmer softly into began
And tossled sepals a trickle ran

A smile so soft a rushing glow
A lovers charm a pause, you know
Happy, nothing but hands hold warm
And so returns a summers morn

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Trim 2025 – the carbon [r]evolution begins

Before you read this – read Trim 2025 to go carbon neutral

In what may have seemed, to some, like an almost niaive scenario to percieve… it now seems that young Martin Tighe literally has started what is now the most enviable vision ever to evolve worldwide and this one from a town in Ireland called Trim. Ladies and gentlemen… The carbon revolution has just begun.

In an all star headline act some spoke of the redemption required to change that same old heads of town events, boards and committees…. and whilst the presence of Noel Dempsey may have attracted some – it was the fine and independent minded speaking of David Mc Williams who stole the show.

That was until the music kicked off….

Whether you are 6, 16 or 106 years old… this really was a day for Trim, in its entirety, to stand tall and to be extremely proud. I’m not talking some group of contrary county councillors seeking to prove their worth to the local papers and a bunch of men in suits holding cardboard cheques… This is close on verging Bono country and it is every piece of energy that a green revolution should be.

One last thing before – the last thing…. where the fork where the green party….?

Martin Tighe, stand up sir and take a bow…. The world is watching.


The one thing I took from this…..? anyone, any person all of the doom and gloom merchants, the nay sayers…. you know who you are and if not, everyone knows at least one……. fork you! It can be done. I listened to young Martin. No older that 30 years old – who took on an entire town… and won’t stop there. I listened to Mc Williams…. stuff the government and stuff you if you are sitting on your arse looking for someone to blame. We know what they can’t do…. but you can. And you can. As a btw… I’m almost 10 years in business. I borrowed the tools for my first job. I’ve never been the recipient of any welfare or grants of any format…. and now Martin who doesn’t even live in Trim…..  and you know what he’s right…. I’ll give him the final word….

Many, many special thanks to all the very kind people I met in Trim.

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rediscover [y] ing ballymun….

when one thinks of a town in North Dublin called Ballymun, it’s maybe not so usual that ‘recycling’ would be the associated word that would first come to mind. Surpringly, possibly – it should be.

As I walked around it was amazing to see the old Ballymn versus the new. The contrast, infallable. The new architecture genius, but different. even the little areas outside the new houses, the attention to the little things, the bin covers, the plaques at the base of the street trees, their involvement in the tidy towns competition…. I’m so happy I took the time to walk around. It was an honour.

I had gone there initially for very different reasons.I had heard about a recycling gig that was going on. I got a contact number, from a contact. I had heard about the rediscovery centre….?  I’d heard it was the greenest of them all…..  I wanted to find out more…

I went there to meet Dr Sarah Miller to find out just how green the rediscovery centre in Ballymun was. What I expected being quite honest was maybe another government scheme that because a bag of cash had been thrown at an issue, it would ensure no eyes raised in the minutes of state meetings…..

What I got and what I saw was inspiring, brilliant and quite honestly a little touch of genius. Isn’t it amazing what happens when the person at the top of the classroom gives eqaul effort from the both heart and brain.

and just in case….. remeber Sarah talking about the fashion gig that they do…? Here’s the short film that aired at Electric Picnic in 2008 showing the results of their first fashion show…. Prepare to be blown away!

If you are looking to find out more or just wish to say you like what it is they do… 😉

email: info [at] rediscoverycentre [dot] ie

The Rediscovery Centre,
c/o Ballymun Regeneration Ltd.,
Civic Centre,
Main St,
Ballymun.

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