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Kerry climate action project creates “momentum for action”

min read

Kerry climate action project creates “momentum for action”

min read


Kerry climate action project creates “momentum for action”

One of 15 projects awarded funding through Creative Ireland’s inaugural Creative Climate Action initiative back in 2021, Corca Dhuibhne Inbhuanaithe – A Creative Imagining recently came to a close.

Throughout 2022, the Dingle Peninsula played host to Lisa Fingleton, the project’s embedded artist, as she worked with the local farming community to creatively look at ways in which farmers on the peninsula could diversify to address climate change.

With the Government’s Climate Action Bill 2022 aiming to halve our carbon emissions by 2030, meeting this target will impact each and every citizen – perhaps nowhere more so than in the agricultural sector. As agriculture accounts for more than 30% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions and with pressure mounting on farming sectors to reduce their overall carbon footprint, Corca Dhuibhne Inbhuanaithe and Lisa Fingleton’s work in West Kerry has been very prescient.

Lisa Fingleton. Photo: Manuela Dei Grandi

“The better we are at working together, the better equipped we are for challenges ahead”

The project worked with 10 farming families from the Dingle Peninsula in exploring ways to diversify and make their farming practices more sustainable.  

“At the outset of the project, we selected a group of farmers and an ‘embedded’ project artist to explore and identify climate action solutions that work for the local farming community and wider society.” says Catríona Fallon, Corca Dhuibhne Inbhuanaithe project manager. 

“Everyone who joined the project stayed engaged and it has been so rewarding to see the connections forged between the participants during the year. Building capacity to diversify, adapt and cope with climate change is crucial, and the better we are at working together, the better equipped we are for challenges that lie ahead.”

Lisa Fingleton, an artist, writer, organic farmer and the project’s embedded artist, has addressed environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity loss and food security in her creative practice for many years. Describing her role in the process as that of a ‘creative spark’, Lisa worked closely with the farming families and helped generate new ways of thinking, fresh perspectives and novel approaches:

“Working closely with the farmers on the Dingle Peninsula over the last year and visiting each farm several times has been a real privilege. It has given me a unique opportunity to understand their deep connection with the land and their growing concerns about climate change. Together, we creatively explored their experiences and their ideas for the future on taking climate action and protecting biodiversity. It was great to see the wider farm families becoming involved, including children and partners. The project has created bonds of friendship between the families and real momentum for action.”

The participating farmers’ unique insights regarding climate change was something that Lisa and the project team found particularly stark. “They are so clearly at the coal face. They can see it happening before their eyes” said Lisa. “The imagery they gave us of animals sweating in slatted sheds because January is too warm, of polytunnels being blown away, of expanding drains to deal with excessive rain, of roses growing at Christmas, of skilled stone craft, was so impactful.”


Embedded artist Lisa Fingleton

"The imagery the farmers gave us of animals sweating in slatted sheds because January is too warm, of polytunnels being blown away, of roses growing at Christmas... was so impactful"

A Creative Imagining | 2023 Documentary - Lisa Fingleton

Open Video

Creativity and farming – what’s the connection?

Many of the farmers in retrospect admitted that at the project’s beginning they struggled to see how creativity and farming could interconnect. As sheep farmer John Joe Fitzgerald explains: 

“When we were talking about artists at the beginning, even I said, ‘what has this art got to do with farming?’ We do find it hard at times to express ourselves or pull the words out of our mouths. What are we going to say? How would I describe this? But while you’re talking to Lisa, she could draw a sketch, and you look at the sketches and realise that’s exactly what I’m trying to say.” 

In September 2022, some of the farmers visited and contributed to an impressive 30-metre Creative Climate Wall that the team created on-site at the National Ploughing Championships in Co. Laois. Using Lisa’s graphic harvesting prowess and collaborative know-how, the wall’s presence at the event helped expand the process and involve even more farmers.

“The amount of farmers that were stopping and looking at what we were doing, and walking by and seeing the drawings on the wall. And you could hear them say, ‘that’s exactly what we’re trying to say, and we’ve been saying this for years’, and it got a discussion going, it got people talking to each other.”

Aiming to spark imagination within the farming community around what farmers can do to combat climate change and biodiversity loss and to bring the climate action discussion to the Ploughing Championships’ broader agricultural audience, the wall proved to be a tangible tool that really worked by telling a story in an engaging, visual way.

“It was amazing, where people came back to see their voiced opinion, visual on the wall. And I think that was a big draw. You know, it wasn’t in a paper document. It was laid out, people could see it… there wasn’t a right or a wrong.” – Niamh Foley, beef farmer from Blennerville.

“It’s given me the drive to make changes that I thought were never possible”

With knowledge gathering and information sharing at the heart of the project, the participants visited several innovative farms, renewable energy facilities and sustainability-focused initiatives like Green Gas, an anaerobic digestion facility in County Limerick; and the Kerry Woollen Mills in Listry, where a recently installed micro-hydro scheme provides renewable energy to run the woollen mills, reducing the carbon footprint of the enterprise.

“The project has been absolutely fantastic. One of the main benefits has been the sharing of information – the sharing of knowledge has been huge. We went on many great visits to innovative farms and green initiatives that I would never have visited otherwise, because I thought I couldn’t apply their practices to my farm. Next month, I’m going planting about 500 native trees just to thicken up our hedges. It’s given me the drive to make changes that I thought were never possible on my own farm.” – Niamh Foley.

Seamus agus Lís Uí Chiobháin. Photo: Lisa Fingleton

Guthanna ón nGort / Voices from the Fields

The project concluded in January 2023 with the premiere of a series of short films – Guthanna ón nGort / Voices from the Fields – recounting the experiences and thoughts of the project’s participating farmers. The films were directed by Lisa Fingleton, filmed by Chris Garrett, and edited by Clint Fitzgerald.

It’s hoped that the legacy of Corca Dhuibhne Inbhuanaithe – A Creative Imagining will be that it inspires farming communities beyond the Dingle Peninsula to make changes to their farming practices in ways that will meaningfully combat climate change and reduce emissions.

Find out more about the Creative Climate Action Fund projects

Read the project team’s in-depth review of their experience here and the thoughts of the participating farming families here.

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