Irish Town Joins the Transition Movement

October 15, 2009 Updated: October 15, 2009

The Transition Movement claims to offer pathways and new ways of thinking that could help citizens respond to shocks that Ireland's economy, environment, and energy sources may face.

The process provides initiatives to reduce Ireland's dependency on fossil fuel and helps communities provide most of their essential needs from a number of local sources in the event of a systems failure. Some of the initiatives involve community supported agricultural systems, localizing energy production, and some have introduced local currencies to keep money circulating in their areas.

The Transition Movement originated in Ireland with Rob Hopkins, who taught a permaculture course in Kinsale Cork. In the book "Economic Addition to the Transition Handbook" by Hopkins, he claims that the current approach of international governments to issues such as protecting the environment are not working and he encourages citizens at the local level to take control of the situation.

The Transition Movement has materialized in a very real sense in Cloughjordan, Tipperary.

An eco village on a site covering 67 acres has been established adjacent to the old village. Five hundred people, mostly Irish, are waiting to move in and planning permission for 130 of the sites has already been granted.

Dave Flannery, an eco-village member, told The Epoch Times, ”There was a year-long consultation process with the original locals and the integration process is working very well. A 500,000 Euro [$US747,020] grant from the government helped to fund an enterprise center, and we have a community farm investment scheme where each member contributes 20 Euros [$US30] weekly to fund farm plant machinery, wages, seeds, and the farmer’s market.

"Twenty houses are currently under construction, and due to arrive this week are the twin woodchip boilers which will be the source for central heating and hot water for the whole village.”

Frikja Capra, who was involved with the scheme from the beginning, added, “There is a diverse group of people from all walks of life involved in this project and who have bought sites. They are young, old, families, and single people.

"Each site will have a south-facing aspect and can benefit from solar passive heating and its own rainwater harvesting facility.”

Alice Ryan, who has a sister waiting to move into one of the houses under construction, told The Epoch Times, “It is really beautiful in Cloughjordan. There are 20 families renting in the old village and many more around the country who are waiting for their houses to be built. Many new businesses have started up in the town; there's a book store, a coffee shop, a bike shop, and an architect’s office.”

Lars Peterson, who is building the Scandinavian-styled homes for the village, said in a statement on his Web site,, “It's fantastic how the eco village connects to the existing village, and another great plus is the fact that the local railway is within walking distance.”

The infrastructure for high-quality cable broadband is already in place. The village will provide an excellent focal point for ecological and sustainable education. It offers the opportunity for people to come and learn by immersing themselves in the community.

Plans are progressing to build a state-of-the-art Transition Center in the village. Residential courses and partnerships with third-level colleges have already been established. Dave Flannery expects the Eco enterprise center to soon be funding new green businesses. "When all the houses are constructed, we will examine ways to generate our own electricity," he said. "It will probably be a combination of using turbines and the central system boiler."

Eco-Friendly on a Personal Level

On an individual level, Judith Hoad, an author who lives in Donegal, made a conscious decision 40 years ago to live a natural way of life. She told The Epoch Times that a wind turbine is her source of electricity. She said, "I live in a traditional stone cottage which is situated 650 feet above sea level, so there is a constant source of wind power. I live a very natural life with no chemicals or medicines and I have a range for cooking and heating.

"My lifestyle is a personnel choice; my family were Quakers and I was always a serious and contemplative child. This lifestyle suits me. I am 72 and I have been sick only once in my life. I am in favour of modern-day luxuries like washing machines which are powered by wind turbines, and when I switch off from work, I like to have the CD player on."

Rob Hopkins, who was the inspiration for the Transition Movement, now lives in Devon in the United Kingdom. He is still working on forming transition towns in England. Today, interest in the transition town process is growing throughout the world with hundreds of towns now adopting the model.