A Community May Be Asleep or Had a Heart Attack but it’s NOT DEAD. #64 #cong19


If there is life, there can be a community. Often I hear sure rural is dead, pubs are dead, the community is dead. If this is true it’s because the people are dead! I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss any big news bulletin about a community being completely wiped out?

So a community may be sleeping, it may even have had a heart attack but thankfully many have woken from their sleep and many have survived a heart attack. This means a community can also regain consciousness but like many medical emergencies it requires a team effort.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Connect and help awaken a sleeping community.
  2. What do you do when a heart attack occurs?
  3.  There is no rule book.
  4.  Be brave and be bold.

About Aoife Keady:

My name is Aoife Keady and I’m the founder of What’s Where. After 4 years studying Irish and Translation studies in NUIG I leased my first pub in my final year and a common phrase I kept hearing was ‘I would’ve gone if I’d known it was on’. I couldn’t understand why people didn’t know but communication was changing and not everyone was adapting.

After it kept me awake night after night in 2017 I began interviewing 3,000 people and 99% said the famous words. I began to investigate further and from that unmet need What’s Where was born, your central source of Ireland’s best events at the touch of a button. We’re launching in 2020 and currently looking to build teams so I’d love to speak to you if your interested.

Contacting Aoife Keady:

You can follow Aoife on Twitter and Instagram, connect with her on LinkedIn and Facebook or send her an email.

By Aoife Keady

Firstly I apologise for making a reference to a heart attack but gladly I know many more people who have survived one than that have died from one. So your community, my community, have we enough to fill Croke Park? The answer doesn’t really make a difference because I don’t think there’s a community in Ireland who attempts to get that many people together on a regular basis. I checked out the 2016 Census and it turns out Malin in Donegal has the smallest population on record at 92 people. Please let me know if your aware of smaller populations. Anyway 45 of them are female and 47 are male. I don’t think I know anyone living in Malin but I’d love to know how their community is doing? This is the age variation living there.
0-17 years – (6 people)
18-64 years – (56 people)
65 years + (30 people)
I dug a little deeper and found an article about their Community Centre celebrating 100 years back in 2012 and they’d gotten some funding to renovate it. It states there was a turnout of 150 so maybe a few gatecrashers but no harm in that. 🙂

Also in the article it says: Community Association chairman, Robert Farren said: “In essence, it’s about building something sustainable by bringing people, both young and old, together from across the community to work toward a shared future. The centre is ideally placed as a driver for economic and social inclusion, building inter-cultural bridges and showcasing the immense local talent – not only in music but in crafts and art.

“To that end we’ll be hosting cultural events throughout the year and setting up a crafters’ co-op which will see some of the older generation sharing and teaching their talents in weaving and spinning, knitwear and lace-making so that some of these traditional arts don’t die out.

ref Inishowen News

They sound like they’re on track to keep their community alive regardless of their size. After reading and learning more about Malin I’d like to go and visit and see for myself what kind of community they have because they’re sounding like a nice bunch.

What’s the point to all this? This place has the smallest population on the census record and it sounds like they’ve a tight knit community that’s trying it’s best to stay connected. What’s your community like? Is it thriving? Is it asleep? Has it had a heart attack? Don’t tell me it’s dead, as my synopsis states I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss a news bulletin about a community being completely wiped out and thankfully so. Therefore I strongly believe all is not lost. So this is Wikipedia’s description of a heart attack.

‘A heart attack occurs when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart.’

This is exactly what is happening in some areas across Ireland and like many medical emergencies a team effort has better results whether it’s to call an ambulance, find medication, begin CPR or use a defibrillator. We want and need connected communities so put on your big girl knickers or big boy pants and help awaken any sleeping communities or start that CPR. Loneliness is the silent killer here but there’s a cure and each and every one of us have it at our disposal.

There is no rule book, the future is still unwritten, we can and we will make a difference in our communities. They need us now more than ever. I’m making it my mission, feel free to join me.

Be brave and be bold. Believe in your ability. Never give up. Time will tell.

“It takes an empowered village to raise a child in the digital age” – The story of Africa Code Week #63 #cong19


In 2018, the Africa Code Week project introduced 2.3 million young Africans to coding and digital literacy skills. 37 countries | 63,759 free workshops | 22,999 teachers trained and an almost 50:50 balance between boys and girls taking part. Impressive numbers from an initiative in just its fourth year. Africa Code Week is a powerful example of the incredible possibilities when communities come together to address a pressing social problem. This is their story…

Key Takeaways:

  1.  For community projects to work, they need buy in from all of the key partners. It simply will not work without it.
  2. For community projects to thrive, the communities themselves need to take an active role. It is not enough to simply agree to support it. The reason ACW is continuing to grow and thrive is because the communities are empowered to take an active role. They are creators, not just consumers.
  3. Even a seemingly insurmountable challenge, like radically altering the education systems of an entire continent, are possible.
  4. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple, “I wonder if…”

About Niall McCormick:

Niall is a recovering engineer and now mature medical student at NUI Galway. He co-founded and ran Colmac Robotics, an award winning educational technology business for 4 years before starting a new adventure and beginning a career in healthcare. As part of the Board of the Camden Education Trust, he advises on innovative educational projects taking place in Ireland and around the world. He is interested in too much but emergency medicine, community and education are at the core.

Contacting Niall McCormick:

You can follow Niall on Twitter or send him an email.

By Niall McCormick

“It takes an empowered village to raise a child in the digital age” – this is the mission statement of Africa Code Week, one of the most powerful forces for good that is sweeping across the 2nd largest continent on Earth. Since its inception, the project has introduced over 4 million young Africans to coding and digital literacy skills, gained the admiration and support of 28 African governments and 131 implementation partners and, most importantly, has energised communities across the continent.

So, some background on Africa before we get stuck in:

  • It consists of 54 countries (plus two that are disputed), home to 1.2 billion people.
  • It’s big… really big. At just over 30 million square km, it is bigger than the US, China and Canada combined and almost twice the size of Russia.
  • It’s old… really old. Widely recognised as the origin of humans and the Great Apes.
  • It’s diverse, in every sense of the word. From its geography to its wildlife to its wealth distribution, the continent occupies an entire spectrum on every level.
  • It’s incredibly resource rich, holding huge amounts of the world’s platinum, gold, cobalt, diamonds and uranium. Its richest resource though, is its people.

So how do you a start a mammoth project like this? With a simple, “I wonder if…”. Like many great ideas, this one came from a conversation in Ireland and was between two of the trailblazers of this project, German software company SAP’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for EMEA, Claire Gillessen-Duval and the Galway Education Centre’s Bernard Kirk. The EU Code Week project had been running in Ireland and other EU countries for a number of years with the aim of introducing young people to coding and digital literacy skills. In 2014, Ireland had the most number of events of any country in the project, despite our small size. This was achieved by establishing key partnerships between schools, industry and government. Claire, seeing an opportunity, uttered the fateful words “I wonder if we could do that in Africa?”, and so, the Africa Code Week initiative was born.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Ireland has played, and continues to play, a key role in this project. The Camden Trust, an Irish education charity are one of the main partners alongside SAP, Irish embassies across the continent play an active role in facilitating government talks and recently Irish Aid have come on board with the project. Despite what we may sometimes think, we are known and respected the world over as educators, carers and peacekeepers in some of the most deprived parts of the planet. The Irish Defence Forces are the longest continuous serving peacekeepers with the United Nations, currently in their 61st year. Thousands of Irish priests, nuns and brothers are credited with providing education and healthcare for some of the poorest communities in the world throughout the 20th Century. Now, in the 21st Century, we are helping to provide digital missionaries.

In its first year, the plan was simple: Run workshops in 10 African countries where SAP had its offices and introduce 20,000 children to digital literacy skills. The results: 88,763 young people from 17 African countries took part in the more than 3,000 free coding workshops. Clearly, this had huge potential.

Potential is one thing, realisation is quite another. In the first year, the burden of training the trainers or running the workshops fell on a relatively small group of volunteers from SAP’s African and European offices along with representatives from the other key partners at the time including the Galway Education Centre and Cape Town Science Centre. If the project was going to reach its potential, it needed to rethink how this whole thing would work. There were two key missing pieces in the puzzle. If you want to change an education system, you absolutely need government involvement. Africa has 54 governments, each with its own agenda and ideas for how education should be delivered. If you want to inspire communities to actively participate in something, you have to empower them.

It is thought that pre-colonial Africa consisted of up to 10,000 different states. Much of the continent was then colonised by European powers and independence struggles lasted until the very recent past. In anything that you do, you should be very cognisant of history. With the best intentions in the world, you will inevitably set yourself up for failure by failing to acknowledge the past. In the case of Africa Code Week, the focus rightly shifted to community empowerment and ownership. Gaining the approval and involvement of several governments, adopting a train the trainer model and recruiting highly talented educators, ambassadors and community leaders from across the continent has propelled the project into its current position where over 4 million young people have been afforded the opportunity to experience coding and technology, opening up opportunities that were previously unimaginable.

The title of this post is, “It takes an empowered village to raise a child in the digital age”. It perfectly encompasses the mission of Africa Code Week as they continue to push the boundaries on what it possible. It began as a CSR project, an opportunity for one of the world’s biggest companies to give something back to the communities it works in, but it has become so much more than that. It is catapulting communities and education systems into the 21st Century and affording young people a potential future that was simply not an option for them even a few short years ago. Its success is largely down to the inspirational leadership from a core group of people steering the project, who have successfully brought all of the right people to the table and sparked the fire. Without key partner support, government backing and community empowerment, it simply wouldn’t work.

See more on Africa Code Week.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

Creating Community in Professional Sport #62 #cong19


Professional sport has expanded beyond all measure in the last 30 years, growing from ‘highlights’ on a Saturday night to 24 hour networks dedicated to countless sports worldwide.  In tandem, professional sports have created their own communities, which in many ways have bypassed or indeed trampled on the community values more prevalent 30 years ago. Professional sport has become the unique connector between masses of people on a weekly basis. With that come challenges that we are only now beginning to comprehend. This short discussion document considers the changes afoot and how our understanding of community is being reshaped by professional sport.

Key Takeaways:

  1. With the decline of mass religious participation in western society, professional sport has begun to fill that void.
  2. It is giving a sense of belonging, community, engagement and fulfilment that was once the purview of religion.
  3. The communities professional sport is creating are, maturing quite differently than we as society are used to.
  4. It connects people like never before. With that comes any number of societal issues which are now playing out on a sporting stage……and unlike religion, education or other norms of societal formation, sport isn’t yet built to recognise and guide those issues.

About Enda Lynch:

Enda Lynch, Head of Enterprise with Munster Rugby, is a commercial and sponsorship veteran with some of Ireland’s leading brands. Enda’s current role oversees a new business venture for Munster Rugby, the High-Performance Leadership programme, in partnership with University of Limerick.

Previously Enda was Head of Commercial & Marketing with Munster Rugby overseeing all revenue generation and marketing for the organisation for over five years. Prior to that, he was a sponsorship expert, working across a number of sponsorships such as the Irish Rugby team sponsorship, The O2, GAA All-Stars, Ferrari team sponsorship, Champions League etc. for brands both domestically and internationally for over 12 years including O2, Vodafone and Digicel.

Contacting Enda Lynch:

You can connect with Enda on LinkedIn.

By Enda Lynch

Imagine for a second walking out into a stadium – to play the biggest game of your life – and being greeted by silence? Not because your club has been fined for racist chants and must play a game behind closed doors. Not because you’re not popular – you are and you win trophies!

Imagine it’s because nobody cared.

Sport doesn’t work that way.  It never has. From the beginning of time sport has been based around more than just participation. It has been based around community, engagement, passion. No matter if you’re a solo golfer travelling the world in the third tier of tournaments, a gymnast on the vault in a gym in Minsk or a team lining up for a game in a club in rural Vietnam, there’s somebody there with you. Be it a coach, trainer, parent, sibling – there’s always somebody there.

You might have to put in the hard yards on your own preparing for the competition, but once you turn up, they do too.

Professional sport is that unique connector between people in communities. They may not agree on religion, politics, education, climate change, conspiracy theories, the time of day.

But when somebody from their club, their parish, their region stands ready to perform in public – they turn to support. In support is a tacit understanding that while it more than likely costs them something, it is professional sport after all, it is a two-way street – like any community.

Professional sport is by its very nature a pay for play scenario in some way, shape or form. Therefore, the individual, team or organisation behind them is being paid. Their pay is from supporters, through ticket sales, merchandise sales, TV subscriptions etc. They are declaring their support for that professional athlete through payment.

But once the payment is made, their values realign to ones of community, pride, passion, a sense of place and purpose. And those values are the values of a community.

Sport, more than any other mass engager, is the one true connector of communities. In many countries, sport is rapidly replacing faith as the provider of that sense of passion, place and purpose which comes easily to it.

The growth of the sports broadcast industry as made that connection easier to find, easier to make and easier to identify with.


But with that connection comes challenges. Professional sports teams and individuals have an uncanny way of portraying the underbelly of societal issues, written large across multiple broadcast platforms. Be it racism, fascism, violence in the home or in public, they are all now associated with teams, events and individuals.

Sport is that unique connector. “Where were you” applies to two types of incidents in most lives – famous deaths or destructive moments of news, and sporting occasions. Those moments are currency at the water cooler and as more and more professional sport is consumed with ease around the world, sport is the one item that is connecting people.

Imagine turning sport into a powerful tool to deliver messages of hope and necessary change…now there’s the challenge for sport in the community.

A Death in the Community? #61 #cong19


The passing away of someone can be the catalyst to bring people together and galvanise them in a show of community.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Community extends beyond people and place
  2. Shared Memories nourish community

About Turlough Rafferty:

Turlough Rafferty is a creative technologist living in the West of Ireland. He is currently acting manager of the GMIT iHub Castlebar. He was previously general manager of FotoNation (Ireland) Limited and co-founder of Promedia and other companies. His current interests are new space, the bioeconomy and digital transformation.

Contacting Turlough Rafferty:

You can follow Turlough on Twitter or connect with him through LinkedIn.

By Turlough Rafferty

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes – Benjamin Franklin. But I don’t want to depress you today speaking about tax so I will go with death instead.

Every minute more than 100 people die. In America over 2 million people die annually while in the UK it is just close to a half a million. Here in Ireland over 47000 people die each year, almost 130 a day.

If that is not depressing enough, the average cost of a funeral in Ireland is about five grand. Cheer up though because in the US people are being ‘stiffed’ with a nine-grand bill. In total, the industry in the US is worth $16bn in 2017, while it is around £2bn in the UK.

If those numbers do not put a cold shiver up your spine, consider the Irish obsession with death.

RIP.ie is one of the most visited websites in Ireland. It receives over 200,000 unique visitors every day. In our local newspapers, family notices displaying memorials of our dearly departed often take up the largest part of the classified section.

At funerals facilitated by over 700 funeral directors in Ireland, it is not uncommon for up to 1000 people to attend a removal. At burial services, it can be standing room only.

It goes without saying that death galvanises community in Ireland. Someone once told me, “Sure you can more craic at an Irish funeral than at a wedding in England.” So, who knows, you could be throwing a party in your honour shortly.

Seriously though death brings people together, like a gathering of the tribes.  More so in rural areas. When we wake a family member, friend or neighbour it is a time to connect at a deep emotional level. Stories are told, secrets are shared, and old memories and places are given life anew.  In Irish community, we know our place and our role at each funeral whether it be a neighbour or family member. You are either making the tea or digging the grave, our job is to lighten the load for the family.  What we gain from this is the ability to contribute, to be part of the farewell, the celebration even!

Death is a time for introspection and renewal. It reminds us that we are bound to this earth and despite our airs and graces we are all flesh and blood with the pretty much the same worries, hopes and dreams.  We are temporal beings – ghosts even.

As we travel on this journey, we impress upon one another. This can be fleeting or can have a significant impact.  Our actions in life leave a legacy for those following in our footsteps. Shared memories form our culture and tradition.

Life is for the living, and the dead live on forever in our collected memories. Spare them a thought. They will thank you for it.

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living “

Marcus Tuillius Cicero



Bringing the Community Back to Port #60 #cong19


As a busy city centre Dublin Port has changed and evolved over the ages.  However community remains central with its deep history and heritage with the local people who helped to build the port and the community who live in and share the space.

Key Takeaways:

  1. CSR is a lot more than sponsoring the local sports clubs
  2. Heritage, especially in an area such as the Port is really important to communities
  3. Commitment to keep investing in community with 1% of profits going to CSR
  4. We also work and live in this area so the community is shared

About Cormac Kennedy:

Cormac is the Head of Property in Dublin Port Company. Dublin Port control over 300ha of land in Dublin Port and also own a further 44 ha in North Dublin where they are building an Inland Port. The company is in the middle of an ambitious investment programme with an expected investment of €1bn over the next 10 years. Cormac has over 20 years of property experience having previously worked with CBRE, Easons, Tesco and Jones Lang laSalle.

Contacting Cormac Kennedy:

You can reach Cormac by email or check out Dublin Port’s CSR Initiatives.

By Cormac Kennedy


“You must never despise the Port you were born in because no matter how small or how bad it is, it is the place you have started sailing to the universe.”

-Mehmet Murat ildan

Every person is defined by the community s/he belongs to and generations of Dubliners identify themselves and their families as Dockers. It isn’t an understatement to say that the community made Dublin Port. Stories on the Dublin Port community have been told in numerous books, plays, films and documentaries. Locals identify themselves as being from Inner city, Dublin Port and more particularly from streets and areas close to the Port such as Ringsend  East Wall and Pearse street.

Having not taken on board the views of our community for many years with ill fated plans to expand eastwards into Dublin Bay, the Port is now working hard to reintegrate itself with Dublin city and her community. We now invest 1% of our pre tax profits into CSR initiatives.

The company works with locals through the more obvious sponsorship of local clubs (Soccer, GAA, Rowing, Sailing and Scout Clubs) and through education initiatives such as supporting training and employment opportunities (St Andrews Resource Centre) and sourcing jobs for graduates along with paying college fees for qualifying students. We sponsor annual Liffey Swim and Tall Ships regattas. These do deliver positive results but it’s some of the more subtle, novel and modern ways of engaging with the community that I want to talk about here.

Recently a new play was commissioned in the Abbey called Last orders at the Dockside. At many showings of this play we had Dubliners laughing at the local jokes and cheering when their street was name checked. Each left with a sense of pride that their people from Dublin Port featured in a main stream play.

This week we will launch a book, through the Roddy Doyle Fighting Words charity called Dublin port Diaries. Last year we sponsored the photographic exhibition called Port Perspectives. This is not simply giving money to an event – we pull the community together to get involved through our Port Heritage and Community Team.

We opened up the Port Centre precinct with gardens, viewing deck of the Port, a refurbished crane and a replica of the time ball, once hosted at Ballast house. These publically oriented changes were designed around encouraging people to visit its Port.

The company commissioned the Binden Blood Stoneys diving bell museum on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.This was and is a manifestation of Dublin Port Company’s commitment to publicly promote the Port’s unique heritage.

We have been heavily involved in the Rinn Voyager project since 1993. This came about in response to feedback from the community for educational training facilities for the communities around the Port. Liffey Ferry 21, the last remaining ferry of its type was launched in 2019 and now operates a service between Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Custom House Quay and North Wall Quay. DPC paid for its refurbishment and a local crew runs the service. History and community, coming together.

We regularly host groups of local historians including a series of presentations earlier this year to discuss the location of the WW1 ammunitions factory which was located in the Port. When this factory was in operation it was mainly staffed by local women who were very well paid. This resulted in a short lived social change with women becoming the main bread winners. When the war ended the silver lining for the rest of Europe became their cloud in losing their jobs.

In 2020 we will begin work on a 3km greenway cycle route hugging the coastline around the Port. What a better way to invite the local community into its Port.

Our most ambitious project is yet to come when we re purpose the former Odlums quarter into a major Port Heritage development. This will encompass a tourism element, a Port heritage archive, a refurbishment of the light ship, the Kittiwake, amongst other things. The community will be central to the success of this project as it will tell the Dublin Port story in way not yet told.

How you communicate so many messages can be a challenge. In recent years some of these surrounding locals have gentrified resulting in a need to communicate in a different style. These new locals dont necessarily have the same shared history but they do have the same shared interest in their new community.

Dublin Port Company (DPC) has maintained a digital presence since 2001 via its corporate website; however social media was a communications space not entered before. Since 2013 DPC recognised social media as the perfect channel to educate the citizens of Dublin and local communities on its daily activities, with its main goal to set about integrating Dublin Port with Dublin City.

Social media allows ports to build closer relationships with their local community. Online users now expect organisations to respond and engage with them directly, making them feel more important and that their voice is heard. They expect more varied forms of communication including imbedded video content and info graphics. This has enabled Dublin Port to capture a unique insight into real port stories covering a wide range of themes including its rich maritime history, operations and staff perspectives, allowing citizens to experience what really happens day to day, offering a distinct perception of port operations.

Content on the various social media channels highlight projects and events and communicate key operational information on traffic, arrivals, departures and notice to mariners.

Ports have extremely interesting and varied stories to tell and Dublin Port’s online maritime community is intrigued to learn about and engage with these stories. We tell our stories and listen to theirs.

We create linkages between the Port, the local community groups and port citizens by including in our monthly content calendar’s information on local maritime events; boat and yacht club regattas, Port heritage events, employment opportunities, notices to mariners, ship arrivals, Masterplan updates and CSR initiatives. We take a rounded, integrated approach to our content, ensuring that all in our online maritime community are included and informed, resulting in a greater user experience.

What we are trying to achieve is that despite the changes in transportation meaning less workers employed in the port that we want to generate a real sense of pride and ownership with the Dublin community in its Port.

We invest so much time and resources to reflect the commercial and social importance that Dublin Port has in the middle of a very busy (and populated) area. The community we spend time with is the community that work and live in, and beside the Port. We believe that it is  important to also remember the sacrifices that Dockers made in making Dublin Port and Dublin and important to remember and acknowledge the Ports place in history. When we get this right, the community in turn respects what we are doing and also understand that the changes we are trying to implement are being done for the right reasons and in the right manner. At the end of the day we all live and work in the same community.

You are not Alone in Your Loneliness #59 #cong19


The spinning mind of teenager Caoimhe May is back again giving yet another twist on a subject deeply involved in mental health and how we approach and interpret subjects like these. This time she speaks about Loneliness, and how really we are all a big community of lonely people in a lonely world. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. We are never alone in our Loneliness.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Finding the beauty in being alone can be one of the best lessons you can teach yourself, and others.
  2. Learn to enjoy your own company. Not only will you like yourself better, but others will like you better too. And even if they don’t, the unnecessary desire for people to like you will no longer plaque you as before, so long as you are happy with yourself.
  3. You are your own best friend, so you might as well learn to get on.
  4. No matter how lonely you are, be it the absence of people or feeling lonely in the middle of a crowd, you are never truly alone.

About Caoimhe O'Rourke:

Caoimhe May (Pronounced Queeva/Kweeva May) is a teenager from County Galway, Ireland.  She is a writer of Poems, speeches, short stories and unseen work.
She openly suffers from severe anxiety and depression and openly speaks about her mental health issues in order to raise awareness and end the stigma and embarassment around all mental illnesses.
Caoimhe May is also an avid and actively speaking feminists and is extremely passionate about equality for every type of person on the planet.
She believes strongly in standing up for what you believe in, being resilient, being powerful while empowering others, and the journey of recovery and self love.
Caoimhe has been reading and writing all her life, and had a children’s book published when she was twelve that she had written at eight years old.
Caoimhe May is a secondary school student and so she finds it hard to find time to apply to events or speeches but would speak in front of crowd about what she believes in every day if she could.
She wants to go into public speaking, the media and performance arts when she leaves school and any leeways anyone may have of getting her there would be immensely appreciated!
She is also available to do readings and poem performances for any event.  Caoimhe also promises to make a difference in the world for the better, be it big or small.  And she does not break promises.

Contacting Caoimhe O'Rourke:

You can reach Caoimhe by email or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

By Caoimhe O’Rourke

Click below to hear Caoimhe’s narration of her #cong19 submission.

What are the Secrets in the Community Garden #58 #cong19


While community’s have been at the centre of destruction they are our hope and can be our guiding light. This conversation aims to benchmark where community has gone wrong and then foster the identification of the magic ingredients which when sprinkled all over Ireland will hasten the development of sustainability whether social, environmental, economic, cultural, political…….

Key Takeaways:

  1. Use your foresight and communicate it to and with others,
  2. Compassion and empathy are big so remember to look after yourself as well as others,
  3. There is a power in numbers so use that power in teamwork and
  4. Ritual and identity are important so foster these in community when ever you can.

About Vincent Carragher:

Vincent’s research collaborates with community’s to measure, reduce and communicate their consumption impacts. Living labs now exist in Ireland where through regular cycles of Footprint measurement, reinterpretation and open discourse the carbon intensity of current day lifestyle practices and behaviour is reduced. Vincent’s research has also critically reviewed community interventions which foster sustainable-behaviour change identifying 109 drivers enhanced by those interventions. It tested and ranked these drivers and barriers using Discourse Based Approaches within Irish communities. It produced sustainability driver profiles for each of these communities. These profiles were then utilised in the co-design of sustainability practices and policies for these communities. The co-design facilitated a rich harvest of sustainability ideas with the communities and expert stakeholders in policy, resource use and sustainability practice. Associate Professor Sarah McCormack was the PI in this research and their report is here
Vincent’s co-creation research has just been nominated by the Japan based Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and the Stockholm Environment Institute as a blueprint for sustainability transition across the globe. It explores the adoption of the Ecological Footprint, in communities, together with consumption-reflection, modelling and the establishment of Norms. Significant decarbonisation and related impacts on low carbon behaviours, practices and lifestyles have been shown. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13549839.2018.1434493 and at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13549839.2018.1481021 .

His most recent collaborative research is explained more here:

Contacting Vincent Carragher:

You can contact Vincent by email.

By Vincent Carragher

The disappearance of the Easter Island community:

Has it lessons for us today?

Does it predict we are doomed to fail?

Evidence from Paelobotany and Archaeology morphs into a frightful conclusion, why would an organised community, with religion, craft and substantial collaboration decide to eat itself?

Today, with resource depletion at its highest levels ever, emissions rising, climate change, pollution increasing, ocean acidification, species extinctions and more are we time a bomb ticking?

Is the Easter island community a foreboding blueprint of what is to come or do we have fabulous examples of community action which reduce our impact, and exemplify our resilience?

Is community actually the Secret Garden?

If it is, how do we open its gates to our leaders and Governments?

How do we foster the good stuff and drive improvement and sustainability transition?

There are many ways touched on by these congregation-huddles and talks.

Fostering: a sense of pride, identity, recognition of efforts, norm activation, storytelling, effective communication and messaging, sustainability champions, exemplar communities, progress measurement, funder-community relations, and so much more.

I hope we can explore the ingredients for positive change taking time and space to hear our fellow contributors.

With just one mouth but 2 ears we have real potential to listen and build a way out of the destruction we have laid bare in the Anthropocene.

Reflections on Community #57 #cong19


A community takes a long time to build, and a short time to destroy.  Investing into a community requires patience, time, trust and longer-term commitment that is harder to find with each generation. Is our relationship with the internet, and our enchantment with on line communities, compromising our evolutionary dependence on trusted communities?

Key Takeaways:

  1. Are we in danger of ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ as we turn our eyes from local to global communities?
  2. Is this really the ‘end of innocence’? Is the internet exposing our dark side as we are exposed to a new awareness of extreme choices and special interest communities? Where can we find our tribe? Where can we hide?
  3. Trust as a prerequisite for community …. The privilege of trust – and the betrayal. Where does secrecy / loyalty / ritual belong in generating ‘trusted’ community? Trusted to what – protect? Who?

About Eileen Forrestal::

Having recently retired from the position of Consultant Anaesthetist, after a 32 year career as a Medical Doctor, Eileen is now engaged full time in the business at Get Up and Go Publications Ltd, producing a range of inspirational and motivational diaries, journals and events, for adults and teens. The diaries embody a philosophy and wisdom – Forgive the past – Live the present – Create the future, with an intention to empower educate, inspire and encourage people to be aware of their choices, and to be responsible for their own health, self expression, wellbeing, and happiness.

Eileen believes the accelerating rate of change in the world today is overwhelming the capacity of many people to ‘keep up’. “Mental heath and wellbeing issues of stress and burnout are becoming increasingly prevalent. Our Get Up and Go diaries use words and ideas to positively impact the lives of many people, providing a source of timeless wisdom from a ‘pre-information age’ to guide us through the challenges of modern life and help shine a light in the darkness of despair”.

Eileen suffered with a ‘stammer’ for most of her young life and ‘gave up’ on her voice at 13, frustrated by her inability to ‘be understood’ and decided to retire from ‘public communication’ preferring the safety of silence and having ‘nothing important to say’. She chose the specialty of Anaesthesia for 20 years, remaining hidden and silent. That changed in 2001 when she discovered the negative impact this decision had on her life and wellbeing. Since then she has been a strong advocate of courageous self expression, travel, education, self-discovery through personal development and stepping beyond your comfort zone. “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”. In 2014, Eileen retired from her medical career believing she could serve her purpose better by using her voice and words than her hands and drugs. After a career spent ‘putting people to sleep’ she is now in the business of ‘waking people up’ to all the possibilities of being alive, right here, right now! Having overcome he fear of public speaking she has since spoken on Radio, TV, schools and stages around the world and has not looked back.

The Get Up and Go Events bring together ordinary people living extraordinary lives, courageous individuals from many walks of life, who have stepped outside their own ‘comfort zone’ to share their experience of living life ‘with passion and purpose’ and are now inspiring their audience to do the same.

Eileen lives in Sligo.

Contacting Eileen Forrestal:

You can contact Eileen by email, follow her on Twitter and Facebook  or connect with her on LinkedIn.

By Eileen Forrestal

Let’s start with a dictionary definition: (somewhat vague and possibly outdated)

a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common; the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.

I think we need to upgrade what “community” means in today’s world.

Leaving aside any ‘spiritual’ realm, human beings are now required to live in two co-existing and rapidly changing worlds  – a ‘real’ world and a ‘virtual’ or ‘technological / technologically enhanced’ world. For many of us the virtual world is as real, or even more real, than the real world, and we now face an evolutionary challenge. Human ‘enhancement’ combined with Artificial Intelligence rapidly outstrips Homo Sapiens intelligence as we play in a new field of Cyborg Anthropology!!

Poor old Homo Sapiens still experiences feelings and emotional upsets, and while this ‘emotional intelligence’ is familiar and a developmental response to, and requirement for the intricacies of emotional relationships within intimate communities, it may not be required in a cyber community or a globalised world of smart homes, autonomous cars, on line shopping and internet dating.

For now, our challenge is to find out how to comfortably exist and co-exist in / with both worlds, as we spend as much or more time and resources with, and in, our on- line, as our offline, communities. Do we shun the ‘challenge’ of being visible in a local community for the relative ease, and invisibility, in cyber space? Is it easier to hide out in space? Do we sacrifice the benefits of connection in our local community for the appearance (pretence) of belonging to a ‘global community’. Is it admiration (and likes) we seek now, more than true acceptance?

What of the dark web? Secret societies? Prison? Drug cartels? honour among thieves? Subversives? These are all ‘successful communities’ attracting people with similar interests and shared values.

What is attractive and available in one  (on line) that is not available in the other and how can we have the best of both worlds?

Some would like to shun the digital / on-line / virtual world altogether but this is becoming increasingly difficult as our entire experience of the world is now shaped by, and enmeshed in, the interconnected Internet of Things. We can’t not swim in the water we are swimming in. We are attached to our smartphones and fast Netflix download speeds and lots of likes on our posts. We ‘join’ groups and communities without the slightest hesitation – we can delete them later – …. in fact, we are so subconsciously ‘addicted’ to our modern playthings, and the illusion of control – we spend countless hours getting our fix … and experience  unprecedented upset and frustration when our ‘supply’ is threatened. The two-year-old temper tantrum is so easily provoked… at every age! Gimme what I want … Now!!!  No one tells ME what to do!!

Perhaps our new ‘toy’ distracts us from experiencing our quiet (unquiet) ‘disconnected’ moments – when we are ‘alone’ …with ‘nothing to do’ … when those eternal existential questions might arise: Why am I here? What am I doing? Where am I going? What’s it all for? Where do I belong? When it is clear we are not , in that moment, in community. When we are present to the ‘aloneness’ of our human condition.

We know we can’t go back to the familiar, comfortable, ‘safe’ past .. ‘the good old days’ … the safe familiar communities of our childhoods, the illusion of ‘happy families,’ and helpful neighbours. Meithil. In our adult moments, as we creep towards death, the unknown, uncertain future beckons, and seems too terrifying to contemplate trying to navigate it alone …

What do we do ? We do what we have always done … we seek others like ourselves, with the same angst, the shared uncertainty… safety in numbers… we can face the future together.  We have always survived in community, so we seek refuge there. It may not be a church but in the same way it will save us.

So, without our ‘church’, what community do we align with – we have a myriad of choices …..

What’s the ‘best’ one?

Who can we trust?

Like religion, we seek the ‘right’ one. We may have already rejected ‘the wrong one’ the one we knew, the one that betrayed us. We check out who’s already there…  are they the kind of people we want to be associated with ? Do we share their values and beliefs? Will we be safe here?

True ‘community’ requires that people trust and care for one another. This then requires ‘evidence’ that the community can be trusted … and this takes time. It takes time to build community. Putting people together with shared goals, purpose, attitudes and interests such as project teams, companies, political movements, suburban housing estates; high rise flats; these maybe groups of people that care about the same goal, but they are not necessarily ‘communities’.

I particularly like to go to the origin of a word – to break it down into its components.

Co=company / with together joint jointly; one that is associated in an action with another fellow partner

Old Irish com – with

Munity =: a privilege that is granted

Is community a privilege? Who grants it? And do we risk taking it for granted ?  What if it’s a cover for other privileges?

We have all have our origins in some community – our family, our ancestors, our neighbourhood, our villages and towns, our nation, places where we are known and accepted.

From small rural communities, to complex urban communities, from special interest communities, to global communities, from communities within communities, we pass seamlessly across invisible boundaries … the boundary only becoming ‘visible’ from the other side. Now you are ‘in’ or ‘out’. Now you have a label: ‘one of us’ or ‘one of them’. Now you belong or you don’t’. Who made the decision? What happened? What unwritten ‘law’ did you break? Included or rejected? Rewarded or punished?

The relentless migration to cities has altered the face and feel of community. People naturally want to congregate …and gravitate towards a community that feels familiar, where they feel safe, where they will be accepted, where they can belong. Cities build ‘community centres’ where groups can meet but these do not necessarily provide a foundation for strong, connected or resilient communities. ‘Members’ come and go, staying as long as they feel welcome, accepted, valued and can participate in meaningful activities, or until they become bored or are made to feel unwelcome, rejected and excluded.

Perhaps the strength and resilience of a community is determined by its need to defend itself against a common ‘enemy’ – a perceived threat to its integrity or beliefs – or a shared desire or challenge to which it needs to rise, that requires collaboration. This happens fast when disaster strikes; when time is of the essence and lives are at stake, to save crops from weather disaster, or to save property from fire and flood. People therefore seek refuge in community – and thus have a responsibility to sustain the health and wellbeing of that community – they are not passive bystanders – they have a vested interest. Now trust is essential, that they share concerns and have a mutual desire to benefit the greater good – or protect an even greater evil!!

Intuitively, we know cannot survive outside of community. Conversely, we discover that we thrive in a community that we trust to make our own. To lose a limb is described as a ‘dismemberment. The body will survive the loss of an arm. An arm will not survive an amputation. Full self-expression and self-actualisation depends on being a ‘member’ of the community, like the arm contributes to the full function of the the body, and the body is effective and powerful with the unrestricted movements of the arm. The body does not need the arm as much as the arm needs the body, but the contribution of the arm is necessary for full power of the body. The integrity of the community depends on the contribution of each of the members contributing to the strength of the whole. Community thrives with active, participating ‘members’, each pulling their own weight, and helping other members to pull theirs. Even homeless alcoholics will congregate and form tight communities, to protect them against a common enemy, sobriety!

Our online communities, while seeming to provide a solution to our existential loneliness, are also exacerbating  the ‘problem’ – the problem being we seem to want to belong ‘somewhere else’, with that community of ‘like-minded people’ ‘over there’, ‘with those people’, who ‘understand me’, and not over here, with these people, the people ‘we know’. These are the people we can actually ‘be with’, sit with, spend time with, listen to, get to know, share a cup of coffee with, build relationships with; people within arm’s reach, people we can comfort and support  and lend a helping hand to …  and to be comforted and supported by in return. But people are dangerous. They are unpredictable They misunderstand. They judge.  Isn’t it less threatening to stay this side of the screen?

Proximity is our access to belonging. This is our access to connection – to meet, greet, be with and relate. We might be surprised what we discover about the people in our lives, when we actually engage with them, close up, authentically, without any preconceived judgements, assumptions, biases or other barriers.

Ah, but who do we to trust? Who do we feel we can be ‘authentic’ with? How do we decide? Do we ‘trust’ those already in a ‘trusted’ community? What comes first – the community already there or the trust we bring? We are all looking to find a community that we can trust … and everywhere we look we have evidence that we cannot trust – our family let us down, our teachers, our priests, our Government, ..  our Institutions … our Banks.  … and when we look closely, we even let down ourselves. We cannot trust ourselves not to lie to get ourselves of the hook now and again. Santa Claus isn’t real … and yet we can’t bear to let him go.

The world is seeking authenticity. Everyone now wants the ‘story’ of your life, so we know who you are, and then we can trust you?? Can we?

Yes, human beings are flawed. And flawed human beings are everywhere.

How can flawed human beings build trusted communities?

Only by accepting we are all flawed human beings and as such we need to be accepted by other flawed human beings in a community where we support each other in our frailties …

I belong to the Irish community – when I am abroad I believe I can trust another Irish person to help me if I am in trouble. Would I look for his help when I am at home?? Would I automatically consign him to ‘some other community – not mine’. Maybe he’s from Cork!

I belong to the Medical community. I feel privileged. When I am a patient, I quickly become part of the patient community … and need help. Can I trust the Medical Profession to treat me as a colleague … or a patient? Is there a difference?

I belong to an online Global Entrepreneur community … and we meet occasionally. I do not expect them to come to my aid when I am in trouble. Yes, I access their knowledge and services and support to enhance my own entrepreneurial endeavours but this is not where I go when I am in trouble.

I appear in many on line and off line communities … some I choose them, some by default. I have something ‘in common’ with all of them – a shared experience, a shared conversation. There are some Communities I will never belong to … I’m not black, I’m not blind, deaf or disabled, I’m not gay, I’m not a golfer or an Olympic athlete, I’m not an alcoholic, and yet I fully acknowledge, accept and appreciate these communities, and the support they provide for their members. I am not upset because I don’t belong. I have no experience of being rejected.

These intimate communities in which we want to be known and valued for who we are, are where important relationships can be nurtured and strengthened, with people who share our worldview, and with whom we can share our problems, and celebrate our good news. The people who matter are those who ‘see us’ as we are, in our daily lives, exposed, unprotected by a ‘screen’, and accept us, flaws and all. The people we can hug, and shake hands with, and smile with, and touch, and truly connect with – immediately, with body language, no place to hide. Our communities are where we have permission to ‘be ourselves’.

Communities that provide this space fulfil a deep human need that mere ‘gatherings’ cannot. They foster a spirit of reliable, deepening and ongoing relationships, to build trusted friendships, to get to know each other on a deeper, personal level, safe to let ourselves be seen, to care, to learn from each other, to act collectively for the benefit of all. When this trust is established, so much more of the communities collective potential can be fulfilled, in the form of personal support, learning, collaboration, contribution and cooperation. Thus community is a mutually beneficial relationship where everyone in the community thrives. When the focus shifts from ‘me’ to ‘we’ – from suspicion to trust, from competition to co-operation, this is the catalyst for powerful communities. Communities are for the benefit of the collective and depend on the collective for this benefit.

The communities we really fear rejection by, are our family, our friends, our neighbours, and any group to which we believe we belong and where we can make, and have made, a valuable contribution. When that contribution has been denied, misconstrued,  deemed as malicious or damaging, the punishment is severe – expulsion. Being misunderstood or judged unfairly feeds a fundamental fear of being rejected by the trusted community, but once expelled the retribution is fierce. Compassion and forgiveness are withheld … forever. There may be no going back.

The safety, and danger, in online communities is we can pretend to be something were not, for longer. We may never be exposed. We can simply be a passive consumer vs an active participant or co-creator. This is our default mode, a much safer choice. We can remain hidden, voyeurs, watching and waiting, not sure who else is lurking in the shadows … … we first need to sniff it out and see if this environment will make us feel safe and if we fit in. Co-creation and participation is a risk: we might offend or alienate people with our ideas and opinions; we might break rules; we might be misunderstood and face criticism; we might expose ourselves. It seems smarter to start out by observing and seeing what’s happening …. And pretending we belong. But where is our ‘skin in the game’? Where is the accountability? What are we responsible for?  Are all on line communities by their very nature,  inauthentic and places to hide our flaws?

What is the future for community  in this globalised high tech ‘artificially real’ world we are creating? How will we define ‘our’? How will we define community? Will it be off-line or on-line? Will we wait to be invited or will we request to join? Will there be acceptance criteria or terms and conditions? Will there be rules we cannot break? Will there be a joining fee? How will we define the health of the community? How will we know we can trust it? How will we prove we are trustworthy? Will there be an entrance exam? Will we still revert to ‘us and them’, ‘over here vs over there’; this community is better than that community; this community is ‘right’ and that community is ‘wrong’; trust us, don’t trust them; are we doomed to be forever trapped in our evolutionary ‘biology’ that keeps us fighting for survival, craving community but too scared (or unwilling) to be seen as vulnerable and needing what it provides.

Who can you trust?   Where do we learn to trust? Is it wise?

The power of community, lies in the collective identity: that the group thinks of itself as a group that belongs together and that the individual members trust each other more than the average – even the people who have never met before. Yes, we can trust total strangers!!! Trust is the basis of the collective, and that trust can be betrayed as in any collective of human beings …… so when that trust is broken, the community fractures. In fact we feel we can trust strangers more than we can trust those we love, as the fear of betrayal is not so great. Who cares if a stranger betrays us … how could we have known? But what if we are betrayed by a loved one, ‘one of our own’? How could we not have known? How foolish do we appear? And in front of our community ….  the shame .. it’s unforgiveable … isn’t it? And expulsion? Public humiliation? Who could bear it? On line anonymity in multiple ‘faceless’ communities is definitely the safer option.

Humanity, as a community of human beings, as we know it, is now itself perhaps under threat – but the enemy is ‘invisible’, as, like the Trojan Horse, we have invited him unrecognised into our midst and it is eating away at our community from the inside. We are being ‘disconnected’ by the very ‘screens’ that claim to connect us, The 5G technology that promises to ‘connect’ us faster and further to our family and friends, may well be ‘disconnecting’ our neurons from one another. As we peer into our screens, hour after hour, in an effort to connect our on line personas with other online personas, we are becoming even more disconnected from ourselves, let alone from our community. The virtual world IS just that, virtual. We are screened from the reality by the very screen we are watching ‘reality’ through, enchanted by the shiny new objects, (and likes – our little Dopamine hits) and blinded to consequences of this ‘enemy’ in our midst – the wolf in sheep’s clothing ….Perhaps our time is done …  …. Homo Deus here we come. The ‘enhanced human’ may have no more need of community, than the car has need for a blacksmith.

We live in interesting times.

Supporting Youth Volunteering in Rural Ireland #56 #cong19


Much of the resources and research on youth volunteering has highlighted the need to meet motivations, promote the benefits and ensure recognition of young people to boost community participation. How can community engagement meet some of the big challenges of increased anxiety and depression reported amongst young people in an era of increased social media communities?

Key Takeaways:

  1. Resources like the Youth Social Innovation programme and research findings give voice to young people’s issues.
  2. Can we think creatively to allow under 18s volunteering to go around barriers like insurance.
  3. What are the health benefits of community engagement in communities of rural Ireland in partnership with virtual social media communities.

About Lorainne Tansey:

Lorraine works at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society in NUI Galway.

Contacting Lorainne Tansey:

You can follow Lorainne on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or reach her by email.

By Lorainne Tansey

Young People and Stress

Almost one third of young people deemed the mood of their generation as stressed. The research carried out by the Young Social Innovators (YSI) programme (2019) highlights the growing anxiety, stress and depression sixteen year old youth respondents feel in contemporary Ireland. We all have a responsibility to address this and offer opportunities to engage with young people for change. Yet many programmes are limited to youth and under 18s cannot participate due to structural barriers. Innovative solutions like family volunteering, buddy and shadowing programmes and more could include young people and their voice. Inclusivity in communities is challenging and not easily done. Yet the imperative is here to model for and with young people the communities we want to see in the future across Ireland.

Young People as Volunteers in Community

Much of the resources and research on youth volunteering has highlighted the need to meet motivations, promote the benefits and ensure recognition of young people to boost community participation. For example there is a significant emphasis on youth volunteering as a means to employment and skill development. Young volunteers are motivated for a variety of reasons, some being instrumental and yet others demonstrate their empathy for local and global concerns. Increased youth participation in community does result in benefits for all stakeholders. National programmes like Gaisce are vehicles for youth participation and provide insurance and mentorship thereby combating the structural limitations placed on youth volunteering. The overriding ‘over 18 only’ requirements for many community activities due to child protection constraints is seen in an era of increasing managerialism of the sector. This is echoed in the YSI research that indicates 4 out 5 young people feel listened to by their parents but only 2 out of 5 feel listened to by their community. There is a real opportunity to build youth voice in our communities and provide avenues for their greater participation in decision making.

Young People and Virtual Volunteering

Community engagement can meet some of the big challenges of increased anxiety and depression reported amongst young people. The Gen Z Index research by YSI highlights the significant role of social media in youth lives. The research indicates that more than half of young people aged 16 spend four or more hours on their phone. Perhaps virtual volunteering through online communities is an opportunity to connect with youth and their desire to engage. Climate change is identified as the key theme that young people want to make a positive impact on and contribute to. In particular, online activism for climate change issues can help to bridge individual local actions to macro international efforts. According to YSI research only 1 in 10 young people feel listened to by the government or politicians. Collective activism in communities that address policy change is a powerful vehicle for youth participation and to see influence in government. 

Call to Action

When asked about their future, young people (40%) indicated a successful life is one that has made a difference in community. This strong call to action from youth to be part of opportunities for change and impact is one that we need to nurture and celebrate.  Can we make it more natural for young people to be active volunteers and contributors to our communities and challenge structural constraints that marginalise their voice? If so, how do we combat the practical limitations and respond to the enthusiasm of youth to support them to overcome a narrative of stress and anxiety. 

Reference: Young Social Innovators, May 2019, Gen Z Index


Leadership, Dependency and Governance #55 #cong19


Coming soon

Key Takeaways:

  1. Coming soon

About Gerard Costello::

My name is Gerard Costello from a farming and business background in the rural village of Monivea in Co. Galway. I have experience in volunteering on various projects in my community for over 20 years. I worked in the sales and manufacturing industry for over 20 years as a designer of fitted furniture. As a mature student I achieved a B.A. in Community and Family Studies in N.U.I.G and now work as a Community Alert Development Officer in the Western Region for Muintir na Tire.

Contacting Gerard Costello:

You can see Gerard’s work on Muintir na Tíre

By Gerard Costello

When I read the request from Congregation, ‘we want to hear how people see, experience or what they think of “Community”, be it a personal one, business or career transition’.  I have to ask, in what Text is the word Community been talked about. I looked at the word in relation to the work I’m involved in which is, the Development of Community Alert. I looked at the word Community from my community experiences. As part of this mind mesh of thinking sharing and connecting I draw on the history and experience of Muintir na Tire and I still haven’t found the quick fix when it comes to Community. On hearing a statement, words have different meanings so much so they were the breakup of a person’s marriage, this has resulted in me questioning and defining words a lot more. When it comes to Community I still question, try to define and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for when it comes to an easy way to establish and foster Community within society.

My perspectives on community comes from my experience as a volunteer on a Community Alert Programme for over 20 years along with volunteering on other community projects. My learning about people, educating around committee roles, devising to move forward, inclusion as part of equality, leadership and guiding in partnership with others is very rewarding.  As a Community Alert Development Officer for Muintir na Tire supporting and advising groups for the past six months has highlighted the various Community structures, opinions and Community needs relating to the same programme.

The word Community can be used in a lot of different equations which sometimes leads to confusion, or is it just me? The word Community has a lot of meanings to people within societies. What type of Community do we create and what type of Community do we foster? An example I always take when it comes to confusion with the word community in relation to health is used in the medical profession when it says, providing services in the community. However, when one looks for services in the rural community they may find services in theory but not in the practical. I know the theme is taking its broadest form from psychology, technology, personal experience to methodologies and ideas. However, each one has a different purpose and requires a different perspective of Community. The word Community needs to be defined and explained to be able to create and foster Community with a balanced outcome.

To build Communities, leadership is required and where good leadership exists a good community is to be found. However, Leadership is lost by way of the reduction in Priests and Gardaí. This for Communities is a problem which needs to be addressed to be able to sustain Communities. When a business becomes everybody’s business it soon becomes nobody’s business. However, a Community needs to become somebody’s business and then everybody’s business to help sustain the business. People like to be part of the Community and some people like to be asked to get involved as a volunteer, others will not get involved but may contribute in other ways and some just don’t care. Therefore, to build and sustain Communities, support in both administration and financial methods are needed with good leadership. Moreover, just because a minority or the majority don’t get involved in the Community those who can and do get involved should look at the advantages they achieve from being involved in their Community. They say you get a 100% from volunteering, a statement I agree with and have proven for myself in my community, am I the only one?


It is said society is more enriched and it is said that People are becoming Self Sufficient. Can this have an impact personally or on community? at the end of the day, we depend on family but we are dependent on agencies. Do we think of others in the community? When I look at photos from Antisocial Behavior on Halloween Night I ask the questions where does Community come into play within this society. Why did human people do this to other people? What should happen following these events? Who should do something about these events or should anything happen within the Community. But what if it happens next in your or my neighborhood. Then I think about our Public Health Service another part of our Community and I ask the question. Why is there people sleeping or not been able to sleep on trollies, on floors, in corridors in hospital, a condition one would not do in their own home even when not sick. Is this right or wrong?  Where does this fit into a Community?

Change can be difficult for people, especially for people who have volunteered for years and suddenly policies, insurance, governance and laws are pushed on them for a role they would have carried out voluntary for years with a heart and a half. These people are made feel like criminals leading to dis-connection within their Community the greatest problem facing communities. We are all experts in some walk of life. Still, no one knows everything.  We need Compliance, Rules and Structure but a community volunteers should not have to be made fear these.  At the end of the day there is a clear need for a multi-agency, community voluntary and employed representatives with various parties sitting around a table to determine the best approach for each community throughout the country both rural and urban. This is where Congregation I hope can play its part with defining Community and finding what I’m looking for!!!.

About Muintir na Tíre

Muintir na Tíre, (The People of the Land) the national organisation promoting community development in Ireland, was established in 1937 by John M Canon Hayes, the first unit of which was launched in Tipperary town in November of that year. This was the beginning of Canon Hayes’ rural community idea which was to develop and expand into a comprehensive movement designed to raise the standard of living of people in all aspects of Irish rural life. The emphasis was on local improvement – social, economic, cultural and recreational – based on the participation of people themselves in the promotion of the welfare of their community.

Through its core principles of neighbourliness, self-help and self-reliance, Muintir na Tíre has promoted and supported the concept of active community participation and championed the idea of community development in both Ireland and Europe. From the early 60′s the organisation adopted the United Nations definition of the Community Development process, which states that it is “a process designed to create conditions of economic and social progress for the whole community with the fullest possible reliance upon the communities own initiative”. This definition reflects Muintir na Tíre’s approach to this process which is based around “the whole community” as a unit of organisation through which social, economic, cultural and environmental development can take place. Not just how to live more effectively in their own parish, but more especially how to care for their neighbours and share their common lot and heritage.

The 1st major project Muintir na Tire undertook was the promotion of the Rural Electrification scheme. Electricity came to Ireland in 1929 on a national scale through what was known as the Shannon Scheme. The supply was restricted to towns and villages of over 250 inhabitants. For 20 years nothing was done to change this situation. By 1947 only 2% of those living outside towns and villages were served by the National Network. However, the Government begun planning to implement the scheme to bring electricity to rural Ireland. Moreover, the idea of electricity was viewed with suspicion and in some cases outright hostility. To get the scheme going the ESB used Parish Councils to excite local interest in the scheme and help with canvassing for a change to the face and pace of Rural Ireland.  Instead of waiting for some all-powerful government to give hand-outs to the people, Muintir asked the people to make their own decisions and try things out for themselves. This was achieved by a two side approach 1. Doing things for themselves and 2. Learning to get things done.

The Muintir na Tire organisation has pioneered many innovative and worthwhile projects which are now self-sufficient or administered by statutory agencies. Important amongst these were the Community Information Centres (now known as Citizen Information Centres), the establishment of Bord Fáilte’s Tidy Towns Competition, Group Water Schemes for rural areas, the provision of Community Halls and Centres, establishing small and medium size enterprises, the ongoing training of members of Muintir Councils and the community crime prevention programme, Community Alert.

In 1984 The Community Alert programme was established in response to an increase in rural crime and is managed as a partnership by Muintir na Tíre and the Garda Síochána. It is a community-based crime prevention, care and safety programme for rural communities. It has a particular emphasis on older and more vulnerable people in rural communities. The programme aims to improve the quality of life in rural communities through: Reducing opportunities for crimes to occur. Encouraging neighbourliness and self-reliance. Promoting accident prevention and personal safety. The Community Alert programme operates through a network of community alert groups, each of which is responsible for a particular area.

In more recent years Muintir na Tire became involved with Community Text Alert which is an Initiative to facilitate immediate communication from the Garda Síochána to the public. The Garda Síochána provide information by text or e-mail to each registered community contact and they, in turn forward the information by text or e-mail to all members of their Community Group.