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Flying the green flag in Waterford

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The Irish Times – Saturday, August 13, 2011

Flying the green flag in Waterford


THERE ARE some people who like to hide their green beliefs and then there are those who stick a great big flag in their garden to let the world know that being green is no mean feat these days, and so if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Glenribbeen Eco Lodge near Lismore, Co Waterford is a small B&B run by Els and Peter O’Connor which has greenness and kindness oozing from every open pore. I say open, because the doors of Glenribbeen are always open. If you turn up with your tent they’ll welcome you, with dogs, children, a horse, whatever, they would turn few away. Because Irish Peter and Dutch Els’ approach to hospitality and life are holistic and generous. They are both musicians and artists, growers and creators within the community, and the guesthouse is all part and parcel of that.

The flag is that of the EU Flower, the eco certification which Peter and Els were awarded in 2009, and with solar panels, rainwater harvesting, home-made briquettes, fine organic vegetarian food, bat boxes, free range hens pecking around the beautiful gardens and bird feeders at every turn, they have merited the accolade for sure.

However, it is individual dedication, imagination and understanding of the bigger picture of responsible tourism which makes a business truly sustainable, not just the solar panels or light bulbs. You can stick as many responsible tourism policies as you like on your website, or boast about all your eco-gadgets, but it’s the living and breathing it, having a real connection with how their tourism venture can be part of a wider green community, that makes Glenribbeen so special. Just have a quick look at Peter’s blog to see everything from a broad bean hummus recipe to creating a solar powered walkway in your garden, and this will give you an idea of his commitment to his beliefs.

This is not an eco-chic home, however, it is just a home built on sustainable, simple principles, with balconies made from recycled wood, vegetable gardens, books from second-hand shops, a living room full of musical instruments. It’s a place where Els’ beautiful paintings cover many of the walls and where Peter shares his passion for archery with guests by offering free lessons. They know the nearby walking and cycling routes like the back of their hands, with quiet trails straight out of their garden gate, taking you as far as the Vee Gap and the Knockmealdown Mountains. Or the O’Connors will arrange hired bikes to be delivered to the house from Lismore Cycling Holidays, with convenient off-road cycling into Lismore and the hills beyond.

We decided to explore the area from the water, however, and thanks to a tip from Peter, also a keen canoeist, we spent a few hours of a sunny late afternoon in the delightful company of Cappoquin man, Dennis Murray of Blackwater Boating who knows every bend, bridge and building on the river. His charm and local knowledge of not only the flora and fauna, but every historic building which overlooks the river, was enrapturing, regaling us with history one second, and heron spotting the next.

With so much attention given to Waterford’s fine beaches, we were amazed to see that this haven of river life was almost deserted.

Another wonderful facility on their doorstep is the wheelchair-friendly fishing boat, the Wheelyboat of which Peter is one of the registered captains. With fingers in many pies, a new project always on the go, Peter has a glass-half-full approach to life and, as we said our goodbyes, he gave us a stick of rosemary to put on the dashboard to bring energy to the driver and natural perfume for the passengers, and Els popped a parcel full of her speciality Dutch pancakes on the kids’ laps for the journey.

So, if you are looking for a place to stay in the Waterford area, owned by people to whom both generosity and green living come naturally, just follow the flag., Catherine Mack is the author of a new travel app, Ireland Green Travel, available on iTunes.; cyclingholid;; and


Here’s a nice ‘feel-good article on going green – the easy way by Aiden Gibson writing in an article for LinkedIn.

love our planet but what can we do to help us preserve it?

Global warming is a much more important subject than most of us think. I believe that the majority of humans will only see the importance of global warming when they are actually getting hurt by the process. We all need to be aware of the amount of co2 emissions that we are producing and what the effects are. Our planet is our life! Our future is our children!

So what can we do to help the future generations before its too late? Start looking for a new planet? Or… Just take some simple steps in order to reduce the global warming phenomenon. Which is easier said than done for some people but if we all participate then I am sure we can save the world!


Energy saving around the home. Do not leave appliances on standby. Almost half of the power used to supply the average tv is used when it is on standby! You can save more than 70% of the energy lost just by fitting double glazing! Use energy saving light bulbs! Simple! Be more aware on what your thermostat is getting up to. You could save a nice little sum of money if install a programmable thermostat. Also, move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer. This could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. Take a shower instead of a bath. Simple!

Its not rocket science guys!

Energy saving on the road. You can reduce CO2 emissions by changing how you drive.Click here for tips on eco-driving!


Why not…. Plant a tree. Or save a forest! Support renewable energy projects. Get your school or business to be more green. Eat fresh, organic and locally grown food. Or become a vegetarian!

What? Become a vegetarian!?

Yeah, why not? Because you love a nice and succulent medium/rare steak? Become a vegetarian. This is arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes (please do not be too rude in your comments on this article). Albert Einstein said it himself ‘Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.’ I could go on with some more quotes about vegetarianism by well respected leaders (contact me if you want to hear them), but for now lets get on with some facts.

Methane is 21 times more powerful than the greenhouse gas CO2. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. This methane is produced in the digestive processes of livestock, it may be a small amount of methane from each cow but this planet does have a lot of cows! And because cows eat a huge amount of grass and they have multiple stomachs this causes them to produce a large amount of methane, which they exhale with every breath.

If we eliminate our consumption of animal products by becoming vegetarian then we could eliminate the main producer of methane. I am not suggesting that we kill all of the cows! But once we all participate in being a veggie then we need not produce as many cows, which will result in lower amounts of global warming. Easy!

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I responded thus;

Phantom-power (units left on stand-by) isn't as widely appreciated as it
should be especially as a major source of fire in homes. I used to run
a painting and restoration business in the Netherlands and we had
'regular work' renovating homes after TV (mostly) fires where the
heat builds-up in the unit and the dust (initially) catches fire. This
leads to the plastic burning and filthy smoke destroying all paint and
furnishings in the room - before the fire spreads to carpet, curtains etc.
Two points; firstly phantom power costs money and energy. By switching
off the TV and all other units at night + DVD, satellite box (especially)
we save enough to pay for a holiday and more besides, plus we save
that much much more of the dwindling earth-supplies + we don't worry
about fire-hazard when we're out or in bed. Whatever the costs in 
power-savings, the cost of renovation and furniture etc in a housefire
is of course enormous compared do the cost of a simple switch to turn
everything off.
One last point - remember what started the fire - heat and DUST.
Vacuum around and behind all electrical appliances especially at the
air-intakes. By vacuuuming your speakers you'll eliminate that
annoying crackle that mars the music
 - what causes it - DUST.

About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

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