Celebrate the Summer Solstice this Saturday 20 June at 2.30 p.m. in The Dominican Ecology Centre, Wicklow
Read below on the reasons and significant dates behind this event.
10 Year Anniversary
Dominican Convent Crosses a New Threshold.
On 20th June 1870 six Dominican sisters came from Dun Laoghaire to found a convent and schools on the site of Bay View House, Wicklow. Since then thousands of Wicklow people have interacted with the community whether as students, teachers, cooks, cleaners, child-minders, trades people, gardeners or builders. They each have their own stories to tell as would the imposing red brick buildings and beautiful chapel if they could speak. These were mostly built by local builder, Ned Kane and his team of workers, at the request of the sisters. How did they accomplish all this? At one stage the community numbered sixty sisters most of them teachers. Their salaries were ploughed back into the buildings which to this day provide a beautiful learning environment for the almost 900 young people who attend there every day.
However to live is to change and there have been many changes at the Dominican Convent over the years. In the 1960’s the announcement by Donagh O’Malley that there would be free education for all at secondary school level ushered in an exciting new era. The Boarding School was closed to make space for the new influx of Wicklow girls who have gone on to make their mark in almost every walk of life in Ireland and abroad.
So what is stirring at “the convent” now? Just as in 1870 we are back again to the original number of six Dominican Sisters who are stepping out into the unknown with a new vision for our times but with the same courage as the founding sisters. The dream was born almost twenty years ago they recognised a lacuna in the provision of education in Ireland. In the light of threats to the health of our fragile planet, environmental education seemed a pressing need. They set about converting their 70-acre farm to organic production, planted more than ten thousand trees, renewed hedgerows, established a wild-life pond, refurbished the farmyard which had fallen into disrepair and employed a farm manager. The garden was redesigned to facilitate vegetable growing and a Farm Shop was opened.
The new project was called An Tairseach, the threshold, because it would embrace a new world-view. It would be an in-between place in an in-between time. The world-view that was passing allowed us to see ourselves, humans, as separate from the rest of the natural world, indeed as superior to everything else. They were there for our use. We are just waking up to the awareness that we all come from a common ancestors, that we share the same DNA and that we rise or fall together. We cannot have healthy human beings on a sick planet. Exactly ten years ago the Ecology Centre was opened and has since hosted hundreds of students from as far away as India, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand, USA and Canada, Africa and South America.
When we started the project we did not have a public launch. We were feeling our way forward. Perhaps that is why it is sometimes referred to Wicklow’s best kept secret. Now that what we are doing has become more and more urgent we think it is time to “go public” and to celebrate almost twenty years since the project was dreamt into being and ten years since the Ecology Centre was opened. Over the years we have had a great support from people who have found us and helped with tree planting, serving on the Board of Directors, offering us their skills of varying kinds, attending our courses, patronising the Farm Shop and above all from our very loyal, local staff.
As a thank you to all our friends we will be having a celebration on Saturday, 20 June at 2.30 p.m., 145 years after the convent was founded, twenty years since we conceived the idea of An Tairseach and ten years since the Ecology Centre was opened. To mark the occasion we will open a new Peace Garden, a beautiful Rose Garden, which we hope will be an oasis of peace for all who spend time there. Our hope is that everything about An Tairseach will speak of peace, will contribute to peace in a very troubled and unequal world. For this to happen we, humans, need to realise that we are not separate from the rest of creation. We are intimately connected to everything that exists. We need to participate in Earth’s processes and learn from the rest of creation. We need to make peace with the Earth. As we read in the Book of Job (12,7-7-8).
Ask the beasts and they will teach you;
The birds of the air, they will tell you;
Ask the plants of the earth and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
It is not an accident that all this will happen on Midsummer’s Day, a time when in the past our ancestors celebrated the high point of summer, the bounty of the Earth, the gift of the sun which pours out its energy on our little planet, gifting us with health and energy and the joy of life..
The Dominican Ecology Centre on Saturday 20 June at 2.30 p.m.
RSVP: Telephone: 0404-61833