GALLERY & REPORT

Active Abbeyleix comes alive to climate action

Abbeyleix Climate Action Project launched

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

An ambitious new project is under way to engage the community of Abbeyleix with action for climate change.

Science Communicator Dr Niamh Shaw has been appointed to work with the people of the Laois town and met with community representatives on Saturday, October 12 when the Abbeyleix Climate Action Project was officially launched. SCROLL THROUGH PICTURES ABOVE.

Abbeyleix Tidy Towns had been selected as the group to work with Dr Shaw, following a public call for applications earlier this year, and representatives of the group met in the beautiful setting of the Abbeyleix Community Garden to discuss climate action and how to engage the local community with this thorny topic in new and creative ways.

The project is supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council and Midlands Science.

Robbie Quinn, Chair of Abbeyleix Tidy Towns said Abbeyleix Tidy Towns, said he was delighted to have the opportunity to work with Dr  Shaw on what he described as an exciting project.

"Abbeyleix is well known as an important Heritage Town and we now intend to work closely with Niamh to become equally well known as a model green/sustainable town. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Laois County Council, Midlands Science and Creative Ireland Laois for their support in getting this project off the ground,” he said.

An award-winning science communicator, writer, performer, engineer and scientist, Dr Shaw is a passionate advocate of sustainability and women in science. She has consulted on projects with European Space Agency, Arts@CERN, Lottie Dolls and The Ark Children’s Centre and has been making work for the public for over 10 years with podcasts, videos, public talks, family events, workshops, social media, and chatting on TV and the radio. 

Dr Shaw presents space and Earth-themed content for younger viewers on RTÉ television’s “Home School Hub” to support families who are homeschooling during the pandemic. 

“It’s an important time for us all to consider how to make a lasting and positive change to our local environment and ultimately our planet and I’m delighted to be working with the community of Abbeyleix on such a vital topic," she said at the launch.

"The town has already achieved extraordinary initiatives that focus on climate action, and it’s my job to spread the word and get the local community more involved. Let’s see what we can possibly create together over the next six-months of my science communicating residency,” she said.

Dr Shaw also met the Abbeyleix Bog Project, Abbeyleix Heritage House, Abbeyleix Park Development, and Abbeyleix Community Garden. The project group were delighted to take a guided tour of Abbeyleix Bog with Chris Uys, and hear about how successful restoration work at the bog is paying dividends in terms of both reducing carbon in the atmosphere and biodiversity.

Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer and Creative Ireland Co-coordinator with Laois County Council said welcomed Dr Shaw on board to help us to bring the community together to engage with climate change in a new way.

"We hope that looking at the issue in a creative way will help it to resonate more personally with people, and seem a bit less overwhelming. The Creative Ireland Programme gives us great scope to explore topics in new ways and a huge subject like climate change is one that definitely needs a creative approach,” she said.

Jackie Gorman is CEO of Midlands Science.

“We are really pleased to collaborate with Laois County Council, Creative Ireland and Abbeyleix Tidy Towns on this exciting new project which will focus on how a community can engage with the science of climate action and affect change locally. Midlands Science has been working locally on various science outreach projects within schools and the community in recent years to help people to engage with the science of climate change and to understand how we as individuals can have an impact on climate change.

"One of the best ways we can enable our society to address climate change effectively is to raise our overall level of scientific literacy and engage in actions and discussions on issues such as energy, diet, travel and clothes, informed by science and concerned with a sustainable future for everyone,” she said.

The Abbeyleix Climate Action project team is working to bring together interested people and groups for a series of presentations during Science Week in November and is very interested in hearing from anyone with an interest in climate action in Abbeyleix, or the wider Laois area.

The team can be contacted at email climateaction@laoiscoco.ie.

More information can be found at www.laois.ie/creative-ireland