Sep 30, 2008



The first ever Annual National Fairtrade Conference was held at the Quality Hotel Clonakilty last weekend and was a resounding success. Blessed with weather more typical of the traditional July's we used to get, over 80 delegates from towns and cities throughout the length and breath of Ireland enjoyed the conference and the West Cork hospitality to the full. This was the 6th annual conference, and was the first time ever that it spanned two days and came outside of Dublin . Earlier this year the Clonakilty Committee invited the national organisers to come to West Cork to coincide with Clonakilty's fifth anniversary as Ireland 's first Fairtrade Town .

At the end of last weeks conference, Clonakilty was awarded with the distinction of having the greatest range and availability of Fairtrade Products for purchase/consumptio n by the public of any town in the 32 counties. Chairperson Trevor Kingston and founding Chairperson, Jennifer Sleeman both beaming with pride, accepted the award of behalf of the town.

Over the course of the two days, the conference heard how there are now a total of 32 towns and cities with FT status, with this number likely to be near 40 by the end of the year. Several other communities are well on their way also to achieving status in 2009. During Fairtrade Fortnight in March of this year, Leinster house converted 100% to FT in it's restaurants, sending out a very positive and strong message. The www.fairtrade. ie website will be revamped this year, and in the E.U., there are 15 other countries involved    in the Fairtrade Towns campaign. From a relatively unheard of concept at the start of this century, the Fairtrade concept continues to make great strides at home and abroad, delegates were told by Melanie Drea of the National Office.

Carol Finlay from Dublin City Council outlined the campaign which saw Ireland 's capital city gaining FT status. In what was a huge logistical effort she explained how the campaign was truly grassroots, with the support of the local authority. Regular newsletters and talks with schools and groups saw the ordinary people gaining an understanding and giving support to Fairtrade.

Caroline Whelan, from Irish Aid and an officer in Minister Peter Powers office spoke of Irish government financial aid for Fairtrade related projects in developing countries, and Peter Gaynor head of Fairtrade Ireland , praised the government for "getting it right". He revealed that per capita, this country gives the most to Fairtrade projects and if the U.S.A. donated a comparative figure it would amount to 1 billion dollars.

Clonakilty's founding Chairperson Jennifer Sleeman, enthralled the visitors with her recounting of how Clonakilty started Fairtrade and became the first town in the country to gain official FT status in 2003. It's a story of how one persons passion for something can lead to "miracles" as she described the whole thing herself. She remembered the input of Fr. Gerard Galvin, Rev. Ian Jonas and Imelda Kingston of the original committee, and thanked them all for their dedication in those early days.

There were reports from the International Fairtrade Town Conference in Brussels earlier this year from Waterford delegate Lucy Whittle.

Carol Doyle who founded BelleEtik Fashion stores spoke of the connection between Fairtrade and fashion and how the two can marry very well.

With all this work on day one, the 80 or so guests enjoyed the superb dinner put on at the Quality Hotel on Friday evening. Rev. Ian Jonas led with a prayer before mealtime, thanking God for the food and the hands that grew it, prepared it and served it. Mayor of Clonakilty Cllr. Michael O' Regan, was present to welcome the visitors to Clonakilty and praised the ongoing work of the local committee. Chairperson Trevor Kingston welcomed everyone and took the opportunity to thank the many people who made not just the weekend such a success but Clonakilty Fairtrade story over the last five years. Peter Gaynor also lavished praise on all involved and lead the singing of "Happy Birthday Clonakilty" as the fifth birthday cake was cut.

On Saturday morning, a short film showing the Fairtrade Towns visit to Áras an Uachtarán during FT fortnight in March. This was followed by a speech by Lino Olivieri of Amnesty International who is also a member of the board of Fairtrade Ireland . Two Cork representative from the National Youth Council gave an indepth talk about Child Protection in relation to FT groups working with young people in schools and on projects. After the coffee break Dunstan Burke of the National Office have and update on Fairtrade Business and expansion, and Melanie Drea also of the FT Office went into detail about the updated registration forms and certification mark.

Alan Clayton of the Kinsale FT committee gave talk and slide show of his visit to Malawi earlier this year, in which it was illustrated how Fairtrade makes such a positive impact on the lives of ordinary people in developing countries.

The conference concluded with the annual Fairtrade Town Awards. Belfast go the award for the most imaginative promotion of Fairtrade Products. They got Belfast Zoo to feed the animals Fairtrade Bananas!!! Ballymun in Dublin received the overall award for it's work in promoting FT, and despite many odds achieving official status this year. And the host town, Clonakilty was awarded with the recognition that it is the town in the country with the most and widest available choice of Fairtrade produce in shops and restaurants. Trevor Kingston and Jennifer Sleeman proudly accepted the presentation.

After lunch delegates not in a hurry home were picked up and given a complimentary spin on the Choo Choo which they thoroughly enjoyed. The thirty or so were greatly impressed by the town, as it looked resplendent in the "summer" sunshine. Many of the delegates are going to be returning on private visits to the town in the future and indeed as a result of what they experienced last weekend, a few actually decided at the last moment to stay on another night to experience the town.

All in all it was a very enjoyable and beneficial experience for the local Fairtrade Committee and the wider community. Thanks is expressed to the Quality Hotel Management and Staff, Model Village Management, Clonakilty Town Council who provided some funding for the weekend events, and all the businesses who continue to stock and serve FT produce to their customers, and the shoppers who buy it. In our little corner of the word, we are making a difference to producers in the Third World by guaranteeing them a fair price every time we purchase a products with the Fairtrade symbol on it.

Clonakilty FT Committee would welcome more people to get involved, and if interested please contact Trevor Kingston on 086-3384863 or any committee member on

Sep 12, 2008

Stories from the Soil, Stories from the Sea

I thought you might be interested in learning about a novel food
culture experience - Stories from the Soil, Stories from the Sea
eating sessions on Friday 19th September in Skibbereen. The event is
being organised by ourselves at West Cork LEADER Co-op and is part of
the Taste of West Cork Food Festival. We'll be sitting down to on
three occasions during the day to dine on local seasonal food and
listen to the personal stories of 2 local producers at each sitting.

Diane Curtin will be on hand to guide diners and introduce the
speakers. Diane is a journalist and chef and is deeply involved with
food in West Cork, particularly through Slow Food. She recently
published her own book The Creators, which combines the life stories
of farmers and food producers in West Cork with enjoyable recipes.

The breakfast session focuses on fish and we will hear from Sally
Barnes of Woodcock Smokery and Frank Fleming, a fisherman from
Crosshaven. Sally is one of Ireland's most highly acclaimed artisan
producers and has been smoking fish in Castletownshend since 1981. She
has an unswerving commitment to producing the very highest quality
food. Like everyone else involved in seafood though, her business has
had to cope with turmoil and uncertainty. Frank Fleming has been
fishing with his brother Martin for 24 years. They concentrate largely
on catching prawns. Frank has strong views about the future of fishing
and is committed to finding positive solutions to many of the
industry's current dilemmas.

Lunch will have a bovine theme with talks from Paul Johnson of the
Traditional Meat Company and Bill Hogan of West Cork Natural Cheese.
Paul rears Dexter cattle on his farm near Dunmanway. Dexters are a
rare breed of cattle native to this part of Ireland and as such are
uniquely well adapted to live in harmony with our environment. Bill
Hogan is one of our foremost cheesemakers, he and Sean Ferry produce
Gabriel and Desmond Cheese. Bill is a real champion for the small
producer and the importance of food for rural areas.

The final session of the day will be afternoon tea, a chance to enjoy
some very fine baking and patisserie with Jean Domican from Buns 'n
Stuff in Macroom. Jean will be joined by food historian Diarmuid Ó
Drisceoil, who besides writing the fascinating history of Cork's
English Market, also spins a great tale.

Places for each session are limited so I would advise booking early by
calling West Cork LEADER Co-op at 023-34035, tickets cost €15 per

The Stories sessions will be followed at 5pm by the launch of a new
food map of West Cork by West Cork LEADER Co-op. The map presents the
area as a photo montage of food and is bursting with colourful images
of cheeses, fish, fruits, cattle and fowl. The map will be used by
local retailers promoting food from West Cork and will also be
available to local schools as an educational resource. As part of the
launch I have been asked to present some of the stories from my Food
Culture column. This is a free event, so come along if you'd like to
hear more about the people I've met in researching this column and the
part they play in creating such a thriving food culture in West Cork.

Sep 9, 2008

SEI/City Energy Agency Home Energy Saving Pilot Scheme

Cork City Energy Agency would like to bring to attention an ad we
recently ran in the Echo. Cork City Council, through the Cork City
Energy Agency is seeking householders to partake in a home energy
saving pilot scheme funded by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). The
purpose of the scheme is to improve the energy efficiency of homes and
to investigate what economies of scale are achievable when a group of
householders (cluster) come together to install common energy measures
through a single installer.

Summary of the Grant Scheme

- Grants of up to 30% of the capital costs and to a maximum of €2000
- All homes may have an energy assessment carried out and an energy
saving report will cost the householder €100
- Grants will be available for wall, attic or roof insulation, heating
controls and double glazing.
- The cluster member does not have carry out all the energy saving
measures. They can choose which measures they require and can afford.
- Landlords and owners of multiple properties may also apply.
- Each cluster member must complete an expression of interest form
which will be provided to you by the Cork City Energy Agency.
- Cork City Council through the Cork City Energy Agency will act as a
project manager for the pilot cluster.

Funding for the pilot cluster is limited in 2008. All remedial works
must be completed by the end of November 2008, and Cork City Energy
Agency encourages early expressions of interest as they will be
treated on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you require further
information, please do not hesitate to contact me.



John Walsh

Energy Agency Manager

Cork City Energy Agency

Lifetime Lab

Lee Rd.


Ph: +353 (0)21 4941508

Fax: +353 (0)21 4941519


Sep 8, 2008

Hemp Plaster Course

Hempbuilding is proud to announce the latest hemp plastering course with Steve Allin hemp building expert scheduled for Saturday 25th October 2008.

The course will include a presentation on the uses of hemp-lime in the Hemp construction system and the chance to get hands on experience with tuition on the mixing application and finishing of hemp plaster.

Course cost €90, held at Rusheens, Kenmare, Co.Kerry, starts 9.00 am - finish 4.30 pm.  Lunch 12.30 -1.30 and coffee/tea breaks included in price.

To book send email to ;

Sep 3, 2008

West Cork singing group starting autumn term

Acapellabella- West Corks World Music Community Choir is starting up again for their autumn term on the following dates: An Sanctoir, Ballydehob Thurs. 11th Sept. 8.15-10.15pm and O'Donovans' Hotel, Clonakilty Weds. 24th Sept. 10.30am-12.30pm. Both groups meet weekly.

New members are always welcome. A wide variety of cultures and styles explored, with occasional optional projects such as recording and performance.

For more info. Contact Caz on 028 25978 or email cazjeffreys@