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College Essays

This is a collection of essays I’ve written for various courses and they may not be copied or disseminated without my written permission. Which generally I’m happy to give – if I get the recognition.

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 ‘What is the role of cultural narratives in helping people define and culturally construct place? And how does this construction of place contribute to a sense of cultural identity?’

20th January 2013.

I was reflecting on the power of legend and story and how one leads to the other. Brahm Stoker (Abraham – Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.) was 8 years old before his mother allowed him out of his bedroom. Meantime she educated him and (outside the house in S. Dublin) worked as nurse in some of the worst fever-areas (Tallaght = land of the dead. See note 1 below). She came back to him with stories of people walking the streets “marked with the sign of the dead” (“Ringa-ring-a-rosy” – children’s rhyme relating) where people infected with the plague knew they were to die – some got ‘holy’ some went the other way. These stories rather in the way that Bird on page 525 shows “How Legends Develop” lead to a far greater story. One where the infected-people never died – as long as they could pray on ‘carrion’ and where they needed the cloak of darkness to operate. The story causes to think about ‘after-life’ and near-death in a way that “encourage brief meditation”, (Nicholaisen 1983, 176). Citing Hayden and White he also pointed out that “the human impulse is to narrate and place structure on seemingly random happenings”. Stoker chose the name of his chief protagonist – in his most famous story from words learned from his nurse (he was a fluent Irish speaker) – Drá-cula Toothy-letter-of-blood. (see note 2 below). His days would have been filled with stories of Irish legend and his mother’s daily stories – he later wrote filled his heart with dread. Dracula is no more fanciful than some of the stories mentioned by Bird (Polar bears in Minnesota!) yet we love ‘em. In M. G. Crawford’s wonderful collection of Legendary Stories  of The Carlingford Lough District, there are stories of witches, magical-dogs, Long Women (personal favourite as child) and skeletons at weddings – who is to say they weren’t based on some smidgen of fact. The point is they form the basis of stories that define us – in our thinking and make us relate in certain ways. When I think of my hometown of Dundalk – it’s Cúchullian, Fionn & Bram (his dog), Long (Spanish) Woman, The Cornn of Cooley, Mary Rafferty’s ‘black-baby’ and not of bricks and mortar. Who thinks of Dracula and doesn’t think of Transylvania. Who thinks of Frankenstein (Mary Shelly – Dublin wife of Lord Bryon) without thinking of the Tirol or the Alps or Bavarian castles?  As Bird states; “Suspending disbelief is at the core of the legend trip experience”. Let us all look death “right in the face” – and tell yarns about it. One day people will say I was right there where it was supposed to have happened.

Note; Tallaght – first mentioned by Parthalon in The Annals of the Four Masters (see; https://pfiddle.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/irish-history/)

Originally called the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, this chronicle of Irish history from prehistory to 1616 AD was compiled by the Irish Franciscans. The entries which are sparse and meagre during the earlier period grow less so as the “Annals” progress. In the early 17th century, there was a period of massive upheaval in Ireland which included the Flight of the Earls in 1607. The Irish Franciscans began to reassemble the documentary evidence of Ireland’s history.

Dracula; dránn to bear one’s teeth (draid – mouth showing teeth), drámh – misfortune, dramhfheoil – carrion./ Cuisle – vein, cuisleoir – (a) bloodletter. Note too Draoi = magic/wizard/trixter.  Draíocht = druidic art.

Crawford’s M. G. , Legendary Stories of The Carlingford Lough District. (publisher) -The Frontier Sentinel Office, Newry, Co Down. 1913.

 

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Jan 2013

Sustainability.

The global environmental crisis is serving as a catalyst for far-reaching re-examinations of basic values and assumptions that we have ‘cloistered’ for ourselves and fooled ourselves into believing. The theologian and ecophilosopner Thomas  Berry has often said that the time has come to “re-invent the human at the species level” This is taken by some writers (Ram Dass) to mean that “the existing cultural paradigms cannot deal adequately with the issues we are now facing and that we need to draw on the evolutionary wisdom of the human species in its inter-relationships with all other species and ecosystems”. Metzner, Ralph; Green Psychology 1999.

Sustainability has been promoted by Abbess-mystic Hildegard von Bingham (1098-1179) as a ‘gift form the Almighty’. (Bibliography of Hildegard von Bingen). “The visions and teachings of the 12th C. Abbess Hildegard von Bingen are of stunning relevance to our time … forerunners of an ecofeminist, creation spirituality that yet remain with Christianity. Her visions of elemental degradation are eerily prophetic of the ecological dilemmas of our time” Metzner, Ralph;1999. Hildegard’s teachings are very much integrated into her theology, her cosmology, her physics, her ecology and her deep abiding interest in healing – at all levels. In his book Green Psychology Metzner (Ram Dass) goes on to explain that she believed ‘passionately in the theory of harmonic correspondence of macrocosm and microcosm’. This idea was in cact central to medieval thought but alas lost to Western civilisation with the rise of scientific rationalism and materialism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Only the studies and writings of such as Hermeticism,certain esoteric schools and mystics such as Swedenborg and Boehme kept ‘the flag flying’ so to speak. Writers such as Lovelock and Margulis believed in the ‘Hermetic axium’ “As above, so below” encapsulating the ancient idea that there is an analogy – a “pattern correspondence” between the macrocosm and the human microcosm. What the Gnostics called “archanthropos” or what Adam Kadmon called in Kabals, or purushottama (ultimate person) in the Upanishads[i].

Sustainability is about growing while using less. An oxymoron to some but to be sustainable means not using the resources in a way that they won’t be there for future generations. All kinds of quotes and truisms come to mind but the best one I believe is that “we borrow the earth from our descendants”. As we have already taken so much out (for ever) we must now learn to use less – but in a better way and one where we can advance our own health and those of others.

The oft-quoted business-statement of performance The Triple Bottom Line can in fact be a truism and will eventually benefit all. (see notes below). It simply is a way to sustain business, be more tolerant towards the earth and be of social benefit.

At our home (it’s our accommodation business too) we work hard at working with nature – not against it. Our efforts have meant that we have been awarded Europe’s top eco prize – The E.U. Green Flower Award (ISO14001) 2009. It’s the only such award in the southern half of Ireland.

Our ‘tagline’ is;  Glenribbeen Eco Lodge:  A Holiday Experience Without the Footprint.

“It is widely agreed that we humans face a global ecological crisis ….is the most critical turning points that human civilisation has ever faced. Furthermore, the realisation is spreading that the root-cause of environmental destruction lie in human psychology” Ralph Metzner (Ram Dass) 1999.

The world situation is critical and getting worse vis a vis sustainability on this planet. At this time Ireland needs 1.23 times its own (earth) resources to be stable. Yet the politicians talk only of growth. – Into what?  Using what?

We ALL need to use less. As a business we must look to the Triple-Bottom-Line;

The situation at Glenribbeen is that we cannot increase our eco-friendliness here without huge investment in water-well/pumps and going off grid or building a micro-hydro.

(Total cost well north of €80k). Plans have been drawn up for same and we are currently “taking advice” form the state Fisheries Board, however the investment needed is huge – even if we get some funding. The only reason I’d pursue it, is to prove my point that micro hydro can work in low-volume, low-head streams.

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We have decided to sell up and build a new off-grid accommodation for us and tourists to experience 4* comfort without it “Costing the earth”. Marketing the luxury-aspect will I fear be the difficult part as many equate eco-friendly with poor-quality and poor design when the reverse is true. It’s all about top quality (that lasts), top design and best-practices.

The future is Green – at Glen Mór, Dungarvan – opening 2015/6. Ireland’s first ‘earth-ship’ in 4* green-luxury. Watch this space. All water will be sourced & recycled on site and energy created as needed. Food will be grown and recycled and most components of the home recyclable.

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Meanwhile we need to remain focused of getting the small things right and constantly be aware of our own eco-responsibilities. As the ‘master’ C.J.Jung wrote on restoring Nature’s divinity, “Matter in the wrong place is dirt. People get dirty through too much civilisation. Whenever we touch nature, we get clean”. Jung C.J. The Earth Has a Soul, Berkley, Calif. 2002.

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”           T.S. Elliot

In the 12thC. the Abbess Hildegard von Bingen prophesied “Now in the people that were meant to be green there is no more life of any kind. There is only shrivelled barrenness. The winds are burdened with the utterly awful stink of evil, selfish goings on. Thunderstorms menace. The air belches out the filthy uncleanliness of the people. The earth must not be injured! The earth must not be destroyed!”  Matthew Fox, Original Blessings.A Primer in Creation Spirituality.1983.

We would do well to remember again the goddess-figures of the earth – full, abundant and fertile. Full of life and giving. We need to reconnect to the Black Earth (Terra Petra) Goddess that was absorbed into Christianity as the Black Madonna or Black Vergin – indeed in Ireland we have our own Bríd Dubh from Foghard, Dundalk aka St Brighid. So we are not too far removed from our real roots. Stanislave Grof and his wife Christina, who began the journey with teachers such as Carl Jung and have disciples in Ireland such as Martin Duffy of Dunderry Park (shamanic studies) are among many shamans working to restore the spiritual greenness of the earth as much as others seek to restore the physical balance.

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The last word goes to the Lismore-educated Hildegard entitled “Hymn to the Virgins”.In this von Bingen (who refers to Jesus as ‘Greenness Incarnate and Mary as ‘Viridissima Virgo’) she unites the imagery of greenness with the life-giving fire of the sun, thus pre-empting our understanding of the earth as a ‘closed system absorbing all power from the sun.

Most noble greenness (nobilissima veriditas),

rooted in the sun, shining forth in splendour.

Shining forth in splendour,

Upon the wheel,

No earthly sense can comprehend you.

You are encircled

By the arms of divine mystery.

You glow as the dawn

And burn with the intensity of the sun.

Notes.

In its broadest sense, the triple bottom line captures the spectrum of values that organizations must embrace – economic, environmental and social. (Elkington, John; Cannabals With Forks; The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. Capstone, Oxford, UK 1997)

In practical terms, triple bottom line accounting means expanding the traditional company reporting framework to take into account not just financial outcomes but also environmental and social performance.

Case Studies on Sustainability from Coca Cola to Skoll (Sustainability and the United Nation’s Environmental Programme (UNEP); sustainability.com/case-studies

Hildegard von Bingen was made the first ever female Doctor of the Church by the pope in Oct 2012. (Hear one of her many pieces sung by Norma Gentile sound-shaman; healingchants.com

References.

Dunderry Park; www.dunderry.ie or http://www.shamanismireland.com/venue.htm

Elkington, J; Cannabals With Forks; The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. Capstone, Oxford, UK 1997

Hildegard von Bingen; womenshistory-hildegard von bingen & Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) – A discography; http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/composers/hildegard.html

Jung C.J. The Earth Has a Soul, edited by Merideth. Sabini, North Atlantic Books, Berkley, California, USA. 2002.

Metzner, Ralph; Green Psychology Park Street Press, Rochester Vermont USA, 1999.

Sustainability; a think tank and strategic advisory firm working to catalyse business leadership on sustainability:- www.sustainability.com  Accessed; 10-12-2012.

Triple-Bottom-Line. (for SME’s); http://toolkit.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au/part/17/84/363, Useful toolkit.

T-B-L pdf;  SUSTAINABILITY: A GUIDE TO TRIPLE BOTTOM  LINE REPORTING, http://www.group100.com.au/publications/G100_guide-tbl-reporting2003.pdf An Association of Australia’s senior Finance Executives from the nation’s business enterprises,

accessed 15-12-2012.

Triple bottom line; http://www.iisd.org/business/tools/principles_triple.aspx

Accessed 15-12-2012.

See more; http://www.iisd.org/business/ViewResource.aspx?id=121


[i] Teachings of Upnishads (Vedant)

Upanishads are invaluable repositories of vedic knowledge. These are supreme scriptures of Vedantic Philosophy – containing the ultimate knowledge of the individual self, soul and the Brahm. Upanishads are also regarded as the source of multiple streams of Indian Philosophy. The spiritual acumen and enlightened vision of the rishis pervades in the shlokas and mantras of the Upanishads. Their message is perennially inspiring and is as important and relevant to mankind today, as it was when first revealed in the Vedic Age. Upanishads are eternal treatises of the perceivable as well as the sublime domains of knowledge, preeminent guidebooks for the seekers of true light and unalloyed bliss, and are scriptures of inclusive and integrative teachings for the all-round growth of the mundane as well as spiritual aspects of life. http://www.swami-krishnananda.org/upanishad/Lessons_on_the_Upanishads.pdf

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Interview with Sham Power; Interview conducted Tues evening 06-11-2012.

Sham Power born Shrugh, Lismore, Co Waterford, Ireland – 08-05-1931

Summary of the context of the interview:

Sham Power was chosen by the interviewer because he was known to the interviewer and because he was known to be from the area where he still lives – 81 years after his birth. It was felt that he may have insights into any changes in the area and indeed too what hasn’t changed.

The interviewer’s relationship with the subject is particularly good as the interviewer actually taught the interviewee to read and play music.

Sham was born just 20m from where he now lives and where the interview took place.

Though Sham has lived most of his life on the same site he has travelled to the UK for work and so saw something of ‘the other side’ as a result. He has a good education (especially considering the time and place) and spent most of his working life in one of the area’s ‘great houses’ working for landed gentry and after retirement (16years ago) he has worked on commissions in Lismore Castle directly for the (older) duke. Sham is a son of an IRA commander and later commandant (major) in the Irish Army before leaving to marry in 1926. As such he had to defend LismoreCastle from the IRA during the Civil War – a story told with much humour and insight by Sham. With such a background and the fact that his main employers were seen as ‘enemies of the people’ during his father’s time his memories are all that more important.

Sham admits that while life was tough and hard, he had a better existence with his education than most of his contemporaries. The interviewer noted that Sham has a good vocabulary and can form well constructed sentences that were in no way rambling and he could (usually) stick to the point. He told his stories with gusto and good humour.

The interviewer was particularly interested in his views about how the area changed (or not) over the 80years.

He has worked on many homes around the area [a] and strangely as he points out he’s often asked to advise on thatched roofing as he has a lot of experience in pulling off thatch and re-roofing houses all over West Waterford.[b] He still works at various projects such as fiddle-making and re-constructing old engines.

He is in short a most interesting subject and I only wish I had more time and facility to interview him at greater length.

Interview with Sham Power – Shrugh, Lismore.

Summary of the content of the interview:

Sham’s life started as noted but 20meters from the kitchen where the interview took place and the land had been in his family (leased) since 1800 or thereabouts[c].

Sham was the first to move away from farming – with the benefit of a good education. Around 1890 his people were able to gain control the land they had been leasing due to changes brought about he said by agitation by the Land League and the Land Acts. The Congested Districts Board too would have played a part.

Sham’s mother came form the Ryan family farmers in the townland of Ballyanchor SW of Lismore.

Educated locally by the nuns of the presentation in Lismore (see Video – Wallace Irish Primary Schools 1950), it would have been a very basic education and an inward looking one[d].

During the summers and weekends he trained at Bransfields of Ballyanchor, Lismore (Approx 1.5 miles SW of Lismore) making furniture, doors and coffins. He passed the leaving certificate (1948) which was major in those days. Sham then did something,  probably unheard off – he “downgraded” and went back to school in the ‘tec’ (technical school). He studied carpentry, joinery and (later) cabinet-making and left school at 22.

Upon completion he was asked to teach in KilkennyTechnicalSchool where he taught for two years but left due to differences with a school inspector[e]. Sham found it difficult to get work in Ireland due to a stagnant economy and left for Britain where “Hitler had left plenty of work for us to do”. He worked on construction sites for houses, factories and a power-station outside of Birmingham.

Sham returned to Ireland in 1955 (sister’s wedding) but found work as ‘grant-schemes’ had come in. Farmers were fixing up houses (removal of thatch and new roof-construction). Work was found locally at Melloray and one job lead to another. Government sponsored work projects and a slight easing of tension in the economic war between Britain and Ireland and the fact that Ireland had found ways to get produce to an emerging stronger Europe meant there was money to build [f].

Up until late 50s there was no running water in the area -no flushing toilet and certainly no electricity until 1961 [g]. “We had to go to the well to make a cup of tae”.  Work in those days came from the top down as grants were offered to farmers and workers to encourage them to build.

In response to the question about changes evoked a surprising response as Sham didn’t feel that huge changes were made locally in terms of new building or infrastructure – except for electricity  posts and water mains. The living standards of the ordinary folk and their relationships with authority (the castle and the church) were the biggest changes. That and the fact that there is less social contact ‘due to the influence of the TV’.

After school was asked to teach in Kilkenny ‘Tec’. He stayed teaching (‘it was a varied life’) for two years until he had a row with an inspector then left for England[h]. Returning for his eldest sister’s wedding in late 50’s he got a job on a house near Melloray (monastery) and then got a job in Mossy Noonan’s – hotel in Cappoquin – now The Toby Jug – converting the lower floor to bar and lounge and toilets and the upper area to bedrooms.

During this work Sir Richard Kean asked him ‘up to the big house’ but Sham said he’d stay on in the hotel to finish and he went up after a month or so. He stayed in Cappoquin House form 1959 or ‘60 as general factotum until mid 90’s when Sham took early retirement at the age of 63. He did all the roofing, plastering, carpentry and even worked on the electrical wiring.

Sham was asked about the local businesses and he told some stories about shops and undertakers but also about the ‘diesel-boats’ that used to come up-river to collect wood for pit-props for the Welsh mines. These boats were big enough to transport directly to Wales.  Many forests were denuded in the area and farmers took over some of these under the Land Acts 1881/1891/’96 . Acts such as Wyndham’s and Birrell’s Land Act in the 20th C. would have land to be bought and exchanged for the first time since Norman times from some of the great estates.[i] The 1923 Land Act was later to provide the compulsory purchase by the Land Commission of remaining estates. It meant that for the first time in history small farmers (like Sham’s family) could buy land and pay for it to a central (government controlled) registry. Sham reckons that this was the single biggest change in the area as from 1888 onwards farmers could plan years ahead and prepare farms to be passed on – intact.

Towards the end of the interview we got around to the music; the biggest thing in Sham’s life over the last 10years. Sham was a serious pupil, however due to age he had more than the usual problems with fingering. He was however a very determined pupil and has improved each year though his tunes are slowing down. He travels to sessions by car, sometimes with old friends, sometimes alone and has no intention of stopping.

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Interview with Sham Power – Shrugh, Lismore.

Reflections on the interview;

This interview was conducted in Sham’s own kitchen and so he was at his ease. The interviewer too had been there many times before. Sham expressed his gratitude to the interviewer for teaching him to read and play music. This obviously made for a congenial atmosphere.

Though Sham is very able to talk about the past and has a hallway lined with family photos (all pre 1940) his attitude is one of constantly moving forward and in fact getting Sham to talk objectively about the past was often difficult as he related almost everything to the present and how things were done now.

Sham lives very much in the present but has not forgotten the past and at no point indicated thy ‘rosy-hues’ on the struggle and harshness – though he could and did laugh at it in the present context.

Sham was very clear about the fact that he wanted to stay in the area where he “knew all and all knew me”. It would seem that this factor was a major player in getting work and even his wife was from the very townland where he had worked for the furniture-maker – near Ballyanchor. Sham’s world seen from the outside may seem parochial yet his knowledge of Irish, world matters and well known personalities point to a keen mind with a broad minded approach to acquiring knowledge[j].

Sham and Family; It will be seen that Sham lives on the site of his family that have lived there from ‘at least 1800’ and has certificates and rent-books going back to 1808. His mother’s family and wife all came from the townland of Ballyanchor as indeed his first job. Driving down to Lismore from Shrugh one can easily see this townland just beyond Lismore and his sense of place must have been heightened as he viewed this (lovely) vista.

Sham and Work; Sham has shown no fear of work or the ability to take on new things and move with the times. Trained as he was in joinery and particularly in cabinet-making he could easily have settled for a steady life in a furniture-making workshop, many of which still exist around the area. He seems to have ‘bucked the trend’ and instead of settling for a ‘stead but boring’ job too on work that exercised both his intellectual capabilities as well as his hand-skills.

Work in UK meant long hours and strange and dangerous conditions [k].

Later on in his description about work he describes how Major Kean (“ould Sir Richard”) asked him up to Cappoquin House to ‘do a bit’ while Sham was working in Ahern’s Hotel, Cappoquin [l]. Sham told the major he’d be up in a month when he was finished building in rooms above the bar.

This was not a normal response as the local gentry could still hold huge sway over the community – especially over workmen.

Sham’s obstinance was however somehow overlooked or even rewarded as the major asked him to stay on permanently. Working in ‘the big house’ carried a certain amount of kudos and of course meant a slight edge when it came to doing small jobs (nixers) in the area, It also provided stability and a steady income so he could provide for his family and build his own house on the very site of his birth and family home. His sense-of-place is almost palpable.

Sham and the Present-Future; He feels that we are, in spite of the recession, far better off now than in any time up to this [m]. Having worked through the ‘50’s and the better times of the ‘60’s and the stagnation of the 1970’s through the ‘80’s when again so many of Ireland’s young people had to leave Sham is fairly blasé about the current situation and feels that it’s simply a matter of keeping ones nose to the grindstone and pushing ahead.[n]. He has a fine sense of heritage with any sentimentality and is still interested in Irish culture. He can still tell off habits, games and life styles that are largely lost – though there are some sites to help – for example Our Irish Heritage.org

Sham and ‘Outside Contact’; As well as his musical contacts Sham has good knowledge of the world wide web and is conversant with buying and selling on it. When the interviewer first met Sham it was due to his making violins – as ‘something to do’ and was getting violin-making kits from abroad and assembling, varnishing and setting them up[o].

Sham and the church; When the old duke died (Lord Charles Cavendish d.1944) the (Christian) brothers warned us against going to the (Protestant) service. They warned us we’d need the bishop’s dispensation – “But I took off school and went anyway; wasn’t he as good as local and gave employment”.

Sham’s own contact with the church was as rebellious as the rest of his ways. “I never took any notice of what the church says”. A powerful statement from a man of his time.

Sham and travel; [p]Sham knows of all the musicians and their foibles as well as where and when they’re likely to turn up. This in turn makes Sham a ‘go to man’ when one wants information about music sessions[q]. He is a man that is satisfied with living in his own place – in his own manor.

Resources;

Dukes of Devonshire (LismoreCastle); An interview with the duke and owner of LismoreCastle may be heard – regarding the fishing rights to the Blackwater;  http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/blackwater.html

Irish Nationality, by Alice Stopford Green

http://www.libraryireland.com/irishnationality/index.php

A good overview of the concept of Irish nationality

The downloadle version is available at: http://store.payloadz.com/go?id=1351602

Moving Here; http://www.movinghere.co.uk

Moving Here explores, records and illustrates why people came to England over the last 200 years and what their experiences were and continue to be. It offers free access, for personal and educational use, to an online catalogue of versions of original material related to migration history from local, regional and national archives, libraries and museums.

NuclearPlantBuilding; a RTÉ programme form 1965 (reporter Lemass, Peter) on Irish working an a huge building project; http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1030-emigration-once-again/139198-oldbury-work-camp/

Our Irish Heritage.org a useful place to look for games and life-styles of times gone by; http://www.ouririshheritage.org/page_id__46_path__0p4p.aspx

Rural Electrification in Ireland; http://www.ouririshheritage.org/page_id__73_path__0p4p.aspx

The Lismorian (An Mochuda) a collection of writings, essays and historical papers collected for the Millennium. A Navvies Publication 1998.

Interview with Sham Power – Shrugh, Lismore.

Bibliography.

Acts of Parliament; See facilile Docoments The Land War 1879-1903

National Library of Ireland, 1976.

Davitt, Michael, The fall of feudalism in Ireland or the story of the Land League revolution.1905 Harper, London.

Solow, Barbara S, The land question and the Irish economy 1971 Oxford Press, London.

Ireland in the 50’s & 60’s;   http://www.irishhistorylinks.net/History_Links/Ireland_1950s.html Johnson, Wesley 1945 – 1963: The birth of the Irish Republic and Economic Development

http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/history/19451963.html

Lyden, Maurice, Boys and Girls Come Out to Play; A Collection of Irish Singing games. The Appletree Press, 1993

MacAmhlaigh, Donal An Irish Navy , Moving here.org.uk,

Sommerville-Large, Peter The Irish Country House, A social history, Michelin House, 1995.

Wallace, RobinPrimary Schools in Ireland 1950’s – Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxTzU7tGqYw

Interview with Sham Power – Shrugh, Lismore.

Interview Notes & Questions;

Purpose of the interview; To get a sense of the kind of person Sham was – to have lived on the same site for most of his 80+ years and to find out if he could point out any great differences about living there all this time.

General questions, Name, DoB, some background as to family,

Grandfather’s background/Maternal connections.

Father’s background/history.

Questions over where the interviewee actually lived over their life.

Education/training.

Lifestyle.

Marriage/offspring.

Religion – Hobbies

Reflections on life.

Reflections on area.

Future?

Notes from the interview;

During an early period of work in Cappoquin Hse at this time Sham was renting from Sir Richard – a house north of Cappoquin beside famous holy-site (for the ‘moving statues’ of Melloray Grotto) at a sharp dip and bend over the Glenshallan River – with the old forge on the opposite side of the road. However after a dispute with his landlord about the road up to the house he decided to build his own house and did so without grant or help over 10 years at £10,000,- (£20,-/week)

To help with travel he bought a ‘Baby Ford’ at £10,- and the insurance was £12,-. Petrol was 2/6 per gallon (4.5lt); “two & six was hard to come by”

While describing about the building of the house Sham made several observations about how he would have ended up paying more money by accepting the grant and doing things ‘by the book’. He’d “checked his figures and done his sums”.

Sham married (4 children) and one son Walter (named after a grandfather) lives in another self-built house beside Sham. However Sham and his wife are separated; she lives with her daughter elsewhere in the locality; he didn’t wish to speak of family other than to say he was glad that his son was well qualified and able to work with his hands. (Wally used to work in the local hardware shop and was sorely missed by all when he left to start up his own business).

Quotes;

There’s work for everyone in this country now, thanks be to God and long may it last, even if it is a result of a dreadful war. But God help our own poor country that has nothing in it now but unemployment and despair.

An Irish Navvy: The Diary of an Exile Donall MacAmhlaigh (RKP, 1964). Accessed 11-11-‘12

Nursing; Nurses were not very highly regarded in ‘50’s/60’s; In those days they wanted good workers, not the brainboxes required today … and English girls wouldn’t do it. We had no rights, the discipline was rigid …but that’s the way we had been brought up …our PTS group was full of Welsh, Indian and African girls as well as Irish. Movinghere.co.uk, accessed 11-11-‘12

http://www.movinghere.org.uk/galleries/histories/irish/working_lives/working_lives.htm  Accessed 11-11-‘12

Many Irish labourers worked on the post-war building boom in the 1950s and 1960s.Dan Dempsey from CountyCork came to England in this period and spent much of the 1960s building Croydon’s roads.

“We worked on the flyover for about 12 to 18 months, Now they have machines but then it was all manual work. I used to cut the kerbs by hand with a pitching tool; you could take the skin off your hand if you weren’t careful. It was good money but it was bloody hard work”. Dan Dempsey [CroydonMuseum]

(Migration Histories; movinghere.co.uk) accessed 11-11-‘12


[a] As it happens the very first paying job Sham had, was as apprentice shutturer on the house next door barely 5m from where these notes are being written.

[b] Note that Waterford has almost double the number of thatched houses than Galway has; a county at least double the sixe of Waterford.

[c] The setting is in a small valley up a steep hill directly North of Lismore, Co Waterford. His (self-built) bungalow is up an incline west to the road that continues to Poulfada and beyond that are the peaks of the KnockmealdownMountains and to the East is the venerable Melloray Monastery of the Trappists/Cistercian monks.

[d] There are many excellent references to schools and life in general on sites such as irishhistorylinks.net/. see Bibliography. Also WelseyJohnson.

[e] Sham expressed bitterness at this person, the only time the interviewer heard him being critical of another. However he then laughed it off and pointed out that “the other fella wasn’t as clever as he thought he was”.

[f] Rural electrification of Ireland; had a huge impact on Ireland as electricity was brought to remote farms creating jobs – putting up posts, pylons, digging for cables, building dams and such. In turn this meant steady income and kept many in Ireland at would otherwise have left. In turn this created a need for housing and yet more infrastructure.

N.B. The last valley was connected (West Cork) in 1973.

[g] The ever present threat of TB and polio were spectres hanging over every family in those days and indeed Sham’s eldest sister contracted TB but managed to ‘come out of it’. She and another older sister became nurses in West London.

[h] He worked for McAlpines, Wimpy’s “and the rest of them” building factories, houses and power-station near Birmingham. Most of this work was in shuttering and roofing.

[i] Solow, Barbara S. The land question and the Irish economy provides many references to the fall of the great estates. As doesThe fall of feudalism in Ireland or the story of the Land League revolution. See References.

[j] His computing skills and the multitude of books evidence this. He has an entire well-thumbed encyclopaedia in the kitchen which is apart from his office the obvious centre of operations – books open on the table, music on a stand, fiddles ready to be played. The hall as one comes in is itself a small library. Sham though living in an isolated spot has the world at his fingertips.

[k] An extract from a ‘Radharc’ film reporting on the many Irish men working on the construction of a nuclear power plant at Oldbury, Bristol in England is mentioned in Resources below.

[l] Ahern’s Hotel, Main St, Cappoquin, then under Mossy Nonan– now the Toby Jug Bar, restaurant and B&B that still use the rooms, electrics, plumbing and subdivided by Sham.

[m] (He is of course on a pension that was set before the crash) and he is living rent-free in an area with a lot of logging and cheap fire-timber; hence his fascination with log-splitting machinery.

[n] He worked on several projects in the private area of LismoreCastle for long after retirement and still accepts a dinner invitation once a year to the castle along with former (regular) staff for what is a great night – and of course a strengthening of social bonds locally.

[o] All of these activities are detailed-skilled advanced skills. One of the last things we spoke about was how to operate PayPal as Sham does a bit of buying and selling over the internet. He intends to use that to cut down on visits to the bank – “they get enough offa me”.

[p] He travels the county for sessions[p] and he is well known and admired and if he isn’t seen at a session for a period; feelers are sent out to ascertain the status of his health. His travelling is restricted only by distance up a small narrow steep road that is unsafe in winter (though he may not agree with that statement) and by the amount of sessions he can fit in, in any week.

[q] Interestingly this makes him a very valuable asset from the point of view of local and traveller alike. Fáilte Ireland workshops and recent studies (A Tourism Toolkit for Ireland’s Built Heritage) state clearly that edifices and landscape alone aren’t enough to draw people but the characters that tourists meet are the chief draw. People like Sham are true national treasures.

========================================================================

Project Brief Title                  Bibliography of a Green building                                                      

Due :                                        Aug 5th

Student Name:                      Peter O’Connor; PPS# 9018747k

Module title:                            Green Building

Module code:                                      L22108          Level:  5

 Mentor;                                     Gary Dalton

 

Assessment technique:         Written report

Weighting: 50%                       Units :   3

Rationale: This assignment aims to meet all of the learning outcomes covered in unit 3

The student will make a study of a chosen building and make a report. We provide two options that the student may choose. Students may also choose another building of their choice.

No pictures as yet. Apologies.

a)The house is a strawbale house near woodstown, Co.Waterford.This house is the home of Richie and Linda Murphy. Both Linda and Richie developed their interest in natural building while in California,where they learned  various natural building methods .They used this experience to plan and build their  home on their return to ireland. The house meets full planning and building regulations and is a good example of natural build with passive design principals and hi spec technology ( geothermal ground source heat pump.) Richie specialises in natural paint and lime plaster finishes, carrying out advice, maintenance and refurbishment of heritage, new and existing finishes.

b) Navan Credit Union. A detailed article is provided on this. This is a more complex building and students should only attempt this if they have a more advanced knowledge of building engineering and construction. Read the article – 23 pages and base your analysis on this. This is available on the Greenworks website.

The report should take the format of a ‘Biography of a House’

The Report can be set out as follows, with a paragraph in each section. If the student wishes they may include photographs of the project to illustrate a particular point. You should give your own opinions in each section, drawing on as many aspects of what you have learned during the course to give as full analyis of the building as possible.

Brief Description of Building.Size, shape,orientation etc Brief Description;Post and beam strawbale-wall built to fairly high speck. ±85m² ground floor and a total of 122m² living space (2 x floors).This house was designed, constructed and finished with an unusual amount of attention to detail and respect for the natural way of the world.The strawbale gives a high insulation value and the natural fibers (wool and some hemp) in attic areas and around windows/door frames provides further good insulation. See Notes below on Fire regs etc). The walls were filled out with a mixture of earth/sand/fiber plaster and painted with either a lime-render-finish (exterior) or natural paint (eg Bick’s distemper) or a naturally pigmented clay-paint. All the straw was grown within 200m of house and all wood (bar some doors and windows) was sourced locally. Heating is via a geo-thermal system and all glass is e-rated, double-glass, filled with aragon gas. Frames are wood and there is a mix of sash and hinge to comply with fire regulations and of course heat conservation.After long debate and much soul-searching it was decided to build a rectangle as this cut down greatly on costs. It had been proven that curves and odd-shapes sent costs soaring. While it is a shame, it’s understandable.
Are there any particular design features of note?
Curves added to the cost but enhanced the building expotentially.Eyes were drawn outwards from the building from door and windows.
This house is at the end of a very long small road that is steep in places and necessitates motorised transportation. In this singular regard I have difficulty with the otherwise perfect locationThe design ensures that the maximum utility is extracted form the optimum amount of space. The soft contours and non-straight lines and surfaces lend a wonderful homely feel and not the all too often “art-gallery” feel of the modern house.The home is orientated towards the SSE to allow for solar gain and to afford a good view over the bay. Windows and front door were strategically placed to draw one’s eye there. The design is a ‘dormer-bungalow’ with a total living area of approx 220m²There is (mostly) a one meter overhang from the roof to protect the walls and the pitched roof deflects the wind and thus the driving rain up over the house to the hill behind. The base for the house was cut out of the rock-hillside which gives shelter and also provides a thermal-mass/heat-sink which radiates the heat to the rear of the house in the evening. The earth/rock removed from the hill also is used to give a sharp incline under the house – again providing shelter as the wind hits that and lifts rain up over the house as demonstrated by figures provided by a Canadian university.The use of rainwater harvesting is one that we in Glenribbeen Eco Lodge fully espouse as the idea of using costly purified drinking water to flush toilets with is an anathema to my sensibilities.The ‘draft porch is big enough to conduct brief business if unexpected/unwanted visitors arrive. They can be ‘entertained’ without allowing access to the heart of the house and this is in line with the Pattern-Language principles used throughout the build.The house is a goodly size for the five current inhabitants. Plus their adherent animals.Kitchen table incorporates the stove (about 12% of table top !)

 

Description of the technique used to build building.Rock-cliff at rear provides thermal mass to keep rear patio warm in evening.
Strawbale is ‘smeared’ with a mix of earth and ‘binder’ be it straw or hemp or both to form a solid base to plaster or leave rough as an ‘organic’ feature.
Fine earth-plaster over a rougher under-coat of hemp-lime.
The site is cut into a hill which gives shelter and provides thermal-mass behind the house. The construction also helps the wind-borne rain up and over the house as proven by Canadian studies. See note below.A raft foundation with radon barrier/trap was first laid with the floor incorporating the underfloor-heating in the sand-cement screed floor. This provided a thermal mass that could be heated by solar-gain or induced heating.The posts were first erected and then the roof-timbers. The roof had at first been designed as a straw roof but planning was refused as there is too much gorse/whinn on the hill immediately behind the house. A modern slate was used.  N.B. A living roof system was used on the pump-house roof.Of interest is that as the post & beam construct and eventual roof progressed the owners/workers could see the barley grow in a local field as they worked. It “spurred us on as we tried to keep pace with the natural world as the barley grew, got taller, turned brown and finally golden”. The barley straw was turned 3 times in the sun to ensure low humidity (in an extremely dry-sunny September of 2001) before baling which was done extra tightly and in varying sizes to help cut down later on the work of splitting and tying half-bales. The bales were also taken from the middle of the field to cut down on the chance of weeds being amongst the straw and the bailer was asked to try to restrict seeds from entering the bales as much as possible to cut down of vermin (rodent) attack.Of note too is the fact that the roof was built before the walls were started – indeed before the barley/straw was cut. This facilitated keeping the straw-bales dry before and during the wall construction – although plastic sheeting was also hung from the eaves to ward off rain.A low wall is erected to keep the straw-bales off the ground and a simple “ladder” is fixed to this to carry the bales which in turn were fixed by means of 6” nails protruding upwards from the ladder. (It was agreed that the nails provided a hazard and a possible source of condensation within the bale – wooden pegs would have been a better choice). The bales were laid in a ‘block-fashion’ (alternating joints) and later compressed using lorry-style racketing cables and joints, holes and areas around windows and doors were filled with a mix of daub/earth, fiber and straw. Extra care was used attending to the filling at the top of the wall and around door/window areas.Sub-soil, sand and some natural fibers/straw was used to create an ‘adobe-effect’ to cover the straw. Later the walls were rendered with lime and clay plasters and decorated with limewash or clay-paint.Interior walls were insulated with sheep’s wool treated with borax as a fire retardant.

The build itself was done by friends and family with some travelling from USA to provide on site expertise.
Cob-wattle – what I would use for interior walls other than around the heat-source. I’d use these between rooms to be light enough to work but heavy enough to contain some thermal mass and radiate later.

 

What environmental reasons did the owner/designer give for  using this technique to build the building? What was the conventional alternative?How did it address the issue of minimising embodied energy? The reasons the owners chose this form of house and the adherent materials was given as

  • To be more in line with nature.
  • To be more sustainable.
  • To work with the principles espoused by The Natural Step.
  • To use principles espoused by Alexander’s ‘A Pattern Language’ (Oxford Press).
  • To be environmentally more aesthetic.
  • To use knowledge gained working on similar homes in the US.
  • To prove to others that these principles can function in Ireland.
  • Concepts such as ‘cradle-to-cradle’ and cradle-to-grave’ were more than just slogans.
  • The idea that concrete accounts for more than 12% of the world’s CO² means we should took to other ways of building.
  • Straw and the other materials used provide excellent building blocks, are sustainable and are very long lasting if handled correctly and used properly.
  • There is little or no e.e. In the materials used throughout.
  • Where possible used material was sourced reducing e.e. further.
  • One environmental reason NOT to build (where it is) is the distance form services and utilities
Were there any other particular Green materials used in the contruction apart from the structure?For example, clay plasters, lime plasters, sustainable floor finishes etc.If building is not complete what are the owners intentions with regards to finishes?

Sub-soil, sand and some natural fibers/straw was used to create an ‘adobe-effect’ to cover the straw. Later the walls were rendered with lime and clay plasters and decorated with limewash or clay-paint. (Q-dorian – stoneware studios provide info and products for earth-paints). I loved the idea of using Bick’s Natural Distemper on the interior walls; all wall-paints used are very eco-friendly as is the ‘green roof’ of the pump-house out-building. It’s (fairly) flat and covered with a membrane and soil that has been colonated with local plants.

The floor of the house is mass concrete which is not very green but because it provides a thermal mass it will in time win back the e.e. (embodied energy) used. There is little evidence of throw-rugs/carpet being used which would limit the effect of the solar-gain. The concrete floor is sealed with a kind of varnish though it’s not very well polished. A polished dark floor would give a better- cleaner – a sounder thermal-mass-absorbent finish.

The front porch is ‘held up’ with what was to be a piece of waste wood but by it’s very knobblyness adds a huge wow-factor as one approaches the house.

Was there any particular reason used for these materials?
Peter-post to set the strawbale upon and still be able to reach under to ratchet-down the straw-bale later to fit in the topmost.
Breathability, aesthetics and deep knowledge of their usage and properties. The owner is in fact a specialist in lime-rendering and clay-paints.The builder/owners are also keen on ‘soft-corners’ & rounded edges and the materials used were eminently suitable for such techniques.The book and style espoused in Alexander’s ‘A Pattern Language’ as well as other books helped them focus their spiritual and artistic tendencies towards a working relationship with good building and eco-friendly technique.The owners were actually keen to showcase straw-bale as much as to build with a low e.e. and avoid chemically-treated material and non-recyclable material while building a durable and so sustainable home.This house is now the standard to build other similar houses in Ireland and this again is a result of the meticulous care and attention to detail associatedwith all aspects of the design and care of this house.In general the word holistic is not out of place here.
Were there any alternative materials that you consider they could have used instead?What did you think of the owner/designers choice of materials, technique?Was it suitable for the climate?Do you consider it a practical choice? The roof-tiles are of slate. While these are a great and durable product there is and inherent problem with using slate on a curved roof such as this. As well as the question of the flaps leading to ‘windage’ and thus wear and tear due to excessive movement – it has been found that bats can set up colonies in the summer under the gaps made in slate-roofed curves. This can in turn lead to noisome excreta and disease (in rare cases). Although Irish bats (micro-chiroptera) are entirely and exclusively insect eaters and very useful, there is always conflict when wild animals try to share space with humans.I would have used the Dundalk-made rubber-slates (recycled car-tyres) that tend to lie flat even in and on curved areas. As these are a recycled product and their use can be iterated they fulfill the concept of cradle-to-cradle.I might too have used some of these rubber tiles under the ‘ladder foundation’ that is bolted directly onto the foundations. By using the rubber-slates there is a DMC between wood and concrete.I would have used copper guttering and downpipes as these are far more likely to be reusable as a material even if there is a problem and they can be bent to absorb the contour of the roof as well as being more aesthetically appealing. Heavy chain could lead water away from the walls.There is no question of using an open heart as Richard and Linda did. I would have used a water-heating wood/pellet burning stove (from GLAS) that is aerated via a pipe from outside directly to the fire and the waste-gas goes into a flue/chimney directly from the fire. No warm air in the home is used to feed the fire and to be replaced twice an hour as is the case otherwise.I’m not aware that any form of heat recovery system is in place in the Murphy’s. I would have had some form especially if it could be passive or run off a small (stand-alone) PV. Again to run the heat-converter for the heat-pump I would consider using PV especially now that prices have dropped so much while the product has gotten so much better and stabile. I’d use a second-hand deep-cycle from a hospital or Garda station (via contact in Cork) to hold the charge built up during the day and discharge this at night between 4 and 7 as now.For the floor I would have considered having the floor professionally polished to ease cleaning. I might also have considered a darkish marloleum to help absorb heat to allow to seep back later when sun or heating goes down.I might have used cedar as cladding on at least the West side of the house (clinker-boat-style) that allows breathability and a different structure to the overall profile.

I would like to have added a reed-bed sewerage system but as the bedrock ground around the house limits this I would have gone for a proprietary eco-sewerage system such as Biorock or Aswaflow (Molloy) to meet the top EPA standards. See; Notes. below for eco-wood preservatives.

Briefly discuss what distinquishes this house from conventional housesbuilt in ireland.
“Window of Truth”Section of straw-bale in SW wall (interiour) left open to allow one to see, touch and smell the strawto check upon it.
By setting the ‘Peter-post’ on a rubber tile and using plastic fixers the wood would be protected, from concrete and the straw and Peter-post kept off the foundations and the Peter-post is easily pre-drilled to take hazel-stakes to keep the strawbale ‘grounded’ during construction.
The owners (Richard & Linda Murphy) chose this design, material & technique because of their beliefs and to be in line with “The Natural Step” aka ‘A Framework for Sustainable Development (FSSD)’ where one operated within the natural laws and principles rather than trying to overcome them. For more on FSSD see Notes.The straw-bale-house concept is almost as old as the straw-baler of the early 1890’s – originally used in Nebraska – a state not known for its timber. The straw-bale houses there are not post and beam as this one but the walls carry the load of the roof. This actually helps with the compacting of the walls and makes for an easier build and better fire retardation.Personally I love the design and materials – a ‘conventional house’ would be horrendously expensive to heat with a large living area such as the Murphy’s. By using super-insulating strawbale and good technique along with modern practice and other good materials such as casement windows using double-glass with e-values and good solid doors with draught-halls the heart of the house remains warm and easy to keep warm. Richie tells us that the heap pump runs for only a few hours at 2.5kW/hr per day to heat the underfloor heating and the little wood/coal stove is more for aesthetics and added value of ‘seeing a fire’ than offering real heat.As to the suitability for Irish climate – well I’d hesitate to advise it’s use as it currently is in say Leitrim but there are new products coming on the market that could provide better weathering while allowing breathability and allowing the natural colours to come through (new product – spray-on-glass would allow for this).There is little chance for thermal bridging in this building due to the construction, the design and the attention to detail afforded other than in the roof..Sites such as www.thelaststraw.org seem to espouse the straw-build for most any climate and really it’s a question of getting the right technique to marry with the right resource that is the secret of building a green home/building anywhere.As to the idea of using it myself in the Sunny South East. – most certainly! I find the system most practical and very worker-friendly (until the lime comes on site) I’d see it as a great way to get locals involved in helping with a house construction and equally a great way of getting to know the locals and sharing a common experience. Thus the social implications cannot be ignored either.All in all I find the straw-bale-house idea a very eco-friendly and green way to build – as well as providing a great feeling of self-achievement.

That’s why I’m on the course – though I’d almost certainly employ Richie Murphy as consultant from an early stage when we start building our off-grid home and self-catering-accommodation.

Wooden ‘pins’ (dowels) were used to tie wood blocks together.

 

Upper-floor hallway was designed to give max light and min loss of heat.

 

Open corridor connected bedrooms on first floor.

Is there anything that you would do different. I believe I answered this above but one thing struck me in the photos taken during the build was that while there was good (sheep-wool treated with borax) between the ceiling joists there was no discernable cover  over the roof joists and this would allow for thermal bridging high in the apex of the ceiling in the upper hall.. This may eventually show as the thermal bridge will collect dust and a discernable pattern will emerge.Other changes I’d have made;

  • Vented modern water-heater pellet/wood stove to augment heat-pump.
  • I would have added a glass-conservatory outside the front door.
  • I would definitely considered a shelter of some kind to the back door.
  • Solar-hot-water system on the ground in front of house – precludes the necessity of pumps and fears of thermo-siphoning (see Glenribbeen Eco Lodge).
  • Recycled rubber roof-tiles.
  • Recycled rubber incorporated in foundations between cement and wooden ‘ladder’. This protects the wood from the cement and provides a thermal barrier – cutting down on thermal-bridging.
  • Consider using an eco-cement (recycled concrete) or slag-cement in foundation. This has the additional value of providing better insulation against thermal-bridging.
  • I’d have used a mechanical ventilation system powered by PV.
  • Consider having a storeroom under the (float) foundation to store food and drink.
  • Bio-system for sewerage to capture sewerage-gas to cooking aerobic-digester.
  • Spray-on glass to further augment the weathering on the outside especially in exposed areas.
  • Consider planting deciduous trees to East and South to provide some shade in Summer while allowing light/heat in, in winter.
  • I’d definitly consider using modern PV to run 12V lighting/computer.

 

  Bibliography; Silent Spring; Rachel Carsen; was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.Houghton Mifflin Company; Anniversary edition (October 22, 2002)ISBN-10: 0618249060 ISBN-13: 978-0618249060 The Natural Step; http://www.naturalstep.org/The Natural Step Story: Seeding a Quiet Revolution (NEW: Now available in audiobook format!)sustainability-advantage-seven-business-case studies; Sustainability Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA)A Pattern Language; Architecture, Architectural Structure & Design City & Town Planning – Architectural AspectsñISBN 13: 9780195019193 ISBN 10: 0195019199

Embodied energy of building materials and green building rating systems.

http://www.bwk.tue.nl/bps/hensen/publications/10_set_lee.pdf

Films/videos; Home- How the earth was made. http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=7868035

The Story of Stuff; http://www.storyofstuff.org/ How consumerism affects the world.

Websites of note;

Hemp-lime Techniques; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcctSvVFheA

Amazon Nails – Strawbalefutures, Hope Mill, Crescent Street, Todmorden, OL14 5HA, Yorkshire and the Humber; Teach practical skills in strawbale building and sustainable construction. http://www.strawbalefutures.org.uk

DIGGERS, BRIGHTON

Self Build for rent of nine properties – five families and four single people – using the fully mutual housing co-op model within a “co-housing” framework

http://www.segalselfbuild.co.uk/projects/diggers.html

NOTES; Fire Regulations; The house was built using the CASBA (Californian Building Official  Guide to Straw Buildings) and with the help of experienced architect/builders. The fire-proof tests prove that the walls are good to 1700C for 2 hrs.For more see; F90 Certification.“The Natural Step” aka ‘A Framework for Sustainable Development (FSSD)’ works with the rules of nature, science, system conditions and takes steps to operate within the confines of natural law and principles rather than working against or fighting nature. Part of The Natural Step is to recognise that the earth is a closed loop system no material (of any real note) enters or leaves it. The earth is however an open system with respect to energy. The sun gives us more energy than we can use – even by today’s wasteful standards.The Earth receives 174 petawatts (PW) of incoming solar radiation (insolation) at the upper atmosphere. Approximately 30% is reflected back to space while the rest is absorbed by clouds, oceans and land masses. The spectrum of solar light at the Earth’s surface is mostly spread across the visible and near-infrared ranges with a small part in the near-ultraviolet. Without it we would freeze and die with too much of it we would burn and die.The total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year. In 2002, this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year. Photosynthesis captures approximately 3,000 EJ per year in biomass. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet is so vast that in one year it is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.

Yearly Solar fluxes & Human Energy Consumption

Solar

3,850,000 EJ[7]

Wind

2,250 EJ[8]

Biomass

3,000 EJ[9]

Primary energy use (2005)

487 EJ[10]

Electricity (2005)

56.7 EJ

Sewerage; One example of sewerage that might have been considered rather than the current septic-tank is that of Molloy Precast.

This system uses “sequential batch reactor” (SBR) technology. This means that wastewater entering the system is treated in batches. The tank has two chambers

a primary chamber and a reactor chamber. Wastewater enters the primary chamber, here solids settle out and the flow is buffered. The second chamber takes a

batch from the primary chamber, treats the wastewater using aeration by a  mechanical aerator. This is carried out over an 8 hour period during which the

aerator is switched on intermittently. Clean wastewater is pumped out at the end of the cycle to a polishing filter. The benefit of this technology is that

aerators only run for part of the time, hence using less energy. During low flows the system will go into eco mode, using less energy again, it will just

do enough to maintain a healthy bacteria population. The average household unit will consume about €60 of electricity annually. Alternatively a PV system would power a deep-cycle battery to provide secure power.

The system uses around 1.25 kW a day. A system would probably need to supply twice this.

The PV system would of course need to charge batteries to give the system the above supply constantly with 220 volt supply. Also the batteries and invertor would need to be able to supply a 1 kW load over short periods.

It is a fact that the site has a high bedrock. In this instance  a site report detailing percolation results, depths to bedrock etc would be needed to make further recommendations.

Once obtained one can size a suitable polishing filter. Some county council differ to what they require.

More at; New Videos on ‘Sewage Treatment Systems’ & ‘Rainwater Harvesting

website link below.

http://www.molloyprecast.com/

Wood Tannin as Preservative;

 

Wood preservatives;

Tannins are polyphenols that are obtained from various parts of different plants belonging to multiple species. Deriving it name from the technical word ‘tanning’ that meant converting animal hides to leather through chemical processes; tannin is basically used for this function. It is found in abundance in the tree bark, wood, fruit, fruitpod, leaves, and roots and also in plant gall. Since earlier times, people obtained tannin for tanning from plants like wattle (Acacia sp.), oak (Quercus sp.)eucalyptus (Eucalyptus sp.), birch (Betula sp.), willow (Salix caprea)pine (Pinus sp.), quebracho (Scinopsis balansae).

See also; http://www.herbs2000.com/h_menu/tannins.htm

http://www.scielo.cl/pdf/maderas/v12n3/art09.pdf

Burning Wood (slightly also helps preserve it as wood strengthens it and helps stave off rot and has been used for millennium in this manner especially where posts enter the eartn.

Carbon-dating at Newgrange for example dates such burnt-post used (possibly) for supporting structures back to +2000BC See Dr E.Kelly – Newgrange – new thoughts Oxford press.)

Tannin Boronhttp://www.fhs-forschung.at/fileadmin/documents/holz/Aktuelles/2011_Tondi__Thevenon_et_al_-_CIMAD_Portugal_extended_abstract.pdf

EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WOOD AND WOOD PRODUCTS

http://www.springerlink.com/content/w4467823tm9x5854/

Chemically Modified Tannin and Tannin-Copper Complexes as Wood Preservatives

http://www.degruyter.com/dg/viewarticle/j$002fhfsg.1998.52.issue-6$002fhfsg.1998.52.6.596$002fhfsg.1998.52.6.596.xml;jsessionid=F7470429A38003414164FB79C8846E81

Chemically modified tannin and tannin-copper complexes as wood preservatives; http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1589583

Marmoleum (Eco) Floor Covering

http://www.designfloorsdirect.com/menu.asp?menu=152  or http://www.treflor.ie/

Passive Ventilation-units examples;

Fresh 99h Wall Vent.

Demand-controlled non-mechanical through-wall vent which responds automatically to changes in room humidity.

Can be used to meet the background ventilation requirements of Building Regulations Approved Document F1, and also the requirements for security, adjustability, avoidance of discomfort due to cold draughts and prevention of rain ingress. Designed specifically to combat condensation problems, particularly in existing buildings, especially local authority and housing association dwellings.

Energy saving: provides ventilation only when needed, minimising loss of warm air.

Features and benefits

Not dependent on occupier operation, and can be made tamper-proof.

Needs no electrical connection or power supply, and has no running costs.

No maintenance required

Designed to prevent draughts and provide efficient air distribution.

Condensation protection by insulation within internal controller unit.

Optional manual on/off override cord control if required.

Ventilation opening- Free area: 6000mm2, equivalent area: 3350mm2.

Airflow: 8.8 l/s at 10Pa.

Material; ABS (recyclable).

Colour: internal controller white, external grille terracotta.

Sold via; http://iconstruction.ie/uploads/pdfs/Wall_Vents_Anti_Draught.pdf

or http://www.passivent.com/downloads/background_ventilation.pdf

 

I confirm this is my own work.

Peter J. O’Connor, Glenribbeen Eco Lodge,

           

Signed ;                                                            Date; 30 July 2012

Glenribbeen, LISMORE.

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