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The Clare Echo has teamed up with Ennis native & podcast host Fergal O’Keeffe to bring you his new series, Travel Tales with Fergal. The podcast aims to share soul-lifting travel memoirs about day-dream worthy destinations.

The renowned travel writer and documentaries maker Manchan Magan spoke on the Travel Tales with Fergal Podcast this week about his decision in January last year to give up flying for holidays for ecological reasons and help cut carbon emissions.

After over 20 years of unrivalled adventures to parts of the world unseen by most Irish people including South America, China, Middle East, Africa and Asia, Manchan is giving up flying and thus the very thing he loves the most in the world.

“It was not an easy decision to make. But I couldn’t have imagined myself making it before 2019. But 2019 was the year that Greta Thunberg came to prominence. And it was the year that people suddenly realized just how real and dangerous that this climate change crisis was”.

“I’ve been a travel writer and making travel documentary since 1996. I wouldn’t be able to look back at myself in 10 years’ time and know that I was continuing to encourage people to fly when I knew the damage that every flight was doing”.

This is not a necessary time for everyone to give up flying. But me as a travel writer, it was vital that I stopped flying and encouraging other people to go around the world. And I did say at that time that I would still travel if I had to for business or if there was a really good reason. The minute flights open up again, everyone is going to want to go everywhere. And then it’ll be doubly hard for me to stick by my commitment and stay at home”.

But he has a deep love and appreciation for Ireland and especially Co. Westmeath where he lives. “Nowadays (my happy place) is this piece of land that I have here in the Midlands in Westmeath. These 10 acres that 20 years ago, I planted maybe about 9,000 or 12,000 oak trees, and they’ve grown into sort of a pretty dense forest. And then all around me, I have my vegetables. I have my hens, my turkeys and my bees.

“I have the lake that I swim in every single day in winter. Lough Lene, which is just two fields away from me, and this is paradise. This is the reason that I’m okay never flying again. I’m happy here”.

Slow travel is a trend that is expected to grow as people seek to avoid airplanes and reduce carbon emissions by taking ferries and trains. In this more environmentally aware era, there is also talk of a revival of the overnight sleeper train trip that is both eco-friendly and avoids crowded airports. Slow travel also means people will be better able immerse themselves in the local culture.

Manchan plans to begin an extensive series of train journeys to explore the feasibility of train travel throughout Europe. To hear the full podcast, click below.

If you have any queries about the travels mentioned every week Fergal O’Keeffe can be contacted directly on Facebook and Instagram @traveltaleswithfergal.

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