Individuals warning about the effects of climate change are far more common in 2020 than in years gone by when Éanna Ní Lamhna was one of a few voices issuing notes of caution.
Born in Louth, the biologist and environmental consultant is coming to Clare this week as a guest speaker as part of the Ennis Book Club Festival. She is the headline act for Sunday’s literary lunch where she will be interviewed by Clare FM’s Gavin Grace.
Visits to the Banner County have become more common for Éanna in the past year. “As it happens, my darling son has gone off to live in Kilrush, he is getting married to a Kilrush woman next November, if I ever want to see him I’ve to go down to see him. I’m a regular visitor all of a sudden, he’s down for the last year”.
She added, “The Kilrush Tidy Towns is an extremely active group, they are very interested in talking to people when I come down. I know the whale and dolphin group. There is lots and the Burren in North Clare. Clare is a wonderful county for wildlife, I’m delighted he went to live in Clare and not somewhere else”.
With one of the most well-known voices when it comes to talking about the environment, Ní Lamhna acknowledged that none of her three children have followed her path in terms of professions but “like normal people they look after the environment”. Seven years ago, she retired from her post as a lecturer on sustainable development and environmental management at Dublin Institute of Technology.
“During the crash” from 2005 to 2009, Éanna was President of An Taisce, She felt that over a decade ago people were less willing to be active so far as the environment was concerned. “People were anxious to do good for the environment as long as it didn’t affect them, they wanted to build their house in the country and they didn’t mind how much pollution they put in their septic tanks but they didn’t want the neighbours doing that and spoiling their view, they wanted An Taisce to do it because they wouldn’t do it themselves because they didn’t want to fall out with their neighbours. In those days, people weren’t willing to stand up and be counted for the environment”.
“A poor woman is up before the Courts for cutting down Sitka Spruces in Cork because she didn’t like them, she was certainly standing up to be counted with her chainsaw. There is much more awareness now than there was ever before, people know the impact of these things, they can see the impact of climate change, before it was just us saying it was going to happen and they were saying ‘yeah yeah yeah’. Look at the papers today, there are pictures and people’s houses are almost completely flooded, probably built on flood plains, I don’t know the particular houses but quite often they are built on flood plains when they got permission from sections 4 and things to build even though they had been identified as flooding risks. Nowadays there is awareness that the climate can come back and bite you, don’t build your house on a flood plain or where there has been flooding by rivers because the environment is changing and not for the better in many cases”.
With reference made to the trees, the former Vice President of the Tree Council of Ireland is reminded of Seamus Heaney. “The house of the planter is known by the trees, Seamus Heaney said. Trees were associated with the land of gentry because they owned the land that the trees were on. People have a love/hate relationship with trees, this woman cutting down the trees is maintaining that sitka spruce are foreign trees and aren’t good for biodiversity, she wishes that they were native trees, the trouble is she’s doing it on Coillte land with no permission”.
She told The Clare Echo that she is excited to feature as part of the Ennis Book Club Festival. “I haven’t been down to the Ennis Book Club Festival before, they have different people every year, it’s a great honour to be invited down here and talk about what I write, how I think and whatever they want to ask me. It’s a great honour to be the guest on the Sunday lunchtime”.