A group of around 100 people, called ‘NAMA to Nature’ gave a ghostestate in Keshcarrigan the gift of life at the weekend.
The idea thought up by Andrew Legge and Serena Brabazon and joined by locals and Frank Armstrong, food writer and lecturer at UCD’s Adult Education Centre saw a group of people take to the abondoned estate ‘The Waterways’ in Keshcarrigan with trees, compost and gardening tools.
NAMA to Nature has a Facebook page which records its work with the message “Ireland has over 600 ghost estates and 40,000 empty dwellings. Rather than watch the government dither and procrastinate let’s help nature take them back.”
Lecturer Frank Armstrong wrote about his experience in Keshcarrigan with the journal.ie, “Last Sunday morning we planted over one thousand trees on the site” he stated.
Cllr Francie Gilmartin told the paper that around 100 people took part, although he did say that not many of those people were from the local area.
Frank Armstrong said, “I am an unlikely activist and I acknowledge the importance of abiding by the law. But there are exceptions. For example I would steal a loaf of bread to stay alive and our Constitution states that all rights including those to property are subject to the common good. A community can justifiably abate a nuisance.
“We left early in the morning, some of us rowing across a lake in the haze of daybreak with bags of compost, spades and saplings. By 8am we were down to work, managing to find sufficient exposed soil to plant 500 alder, 100 silver birch, 100 hazel, 100 ash and 200 willow. What we did was a largely symbolic gesture, tonnes of rubble still need to be removed and the plastics need to be disposed of as a matter of urgency or they could pollute the adjoining lake.
“At about 10am two members of An Garda Siochana rolled into the estate in a large transit van, expecting trouble perhaps. When asked who we were and what we were doing we replied that we were private individuals planting trees on public land. Finally, they decided to let us carry on, expressing their personal support for our actions. The common good was recognised.”
He said although the hope is that the half-finished estate can one day become a nature reserve, “much work is needed to bring it anywhere close to that point.”
Others who are thinking of completing a similar project are advised to “exercise the utmost caution in ensuring the health and safety of themselves and those around them, and to refrain from any damage to the property therein.”
According to Frank Armstrong “The objective is simple: help nature restore life by planting trees on scarred landscapes.”