Hello from Firhouse Community College, Ireland

Our College, Firhouse Community College, is located at the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. It is home to 750 students, from many different faith and ethnic backgrounds. Our uniform consists of a green, V-neck jumper, grey shirt, grey uniform trousers or grey knee length skirt, school tie, black uniform jacket with school crest, and plain black shoes. For sixth years we substitute the grey shirt for a white one, and the green jumper for a black one.

The school has many extra-curricular activities in a couple of areas. For sports, we have soccer, Gaelic football, rugby, hurling, camogie (Uniquely Irish sports), basketball, table tennis and athletics. We also hold educational activities throughout the year such as a French debate team, choir, European studies and quizzes.

We have a green schools committee, made up of students from all different year groups. This committee aims to promote and encourage environmentally friendly behaviour, such as recycling and energy and water conservation.  The school is working hard to be awarded a green flag, an award given to schools for participation in environmental issues.

We began our weather stations project with a writing workshop by Oisin McGann. We learned how to structure stories. We had interesting discussions on how to create a plot and develop characters.

In transition year, we are working on many different projects in our wide range of subjects in regards to the weather stations project. In geography, each student did a project on extreme climate change. In art, the students did a project drawing characters based on a certain weather, and also drew comic strips. In English, we wrote essays and poems about weather and we are now watching a movie “5 degrees below”. We also watch movies that are about natural disasters that occurred because of climate change, such as “Twister” and “The Day After Tomorrow”.  Our music class have recorded weather sounds and are mixing them into sound tracks. We also attended the strange Weather exhibition in Trinity College Dublin. Here the students of trinity had created many different weather instruments that showed the effects of many climate types. We attended an interesting talk in the Civic Theatre about the weather. Our school was recently nominated for The Credit Union Award.

The art students are currently creating a weather display of snow in the school library for the Weather Stations project using trees and artificial snow. We will display all of our work to date before christmas. This will become our space, for our project,so we can add ideas to it and use it as a source of inspiration also.

We are looking forward to hearing about the other schools in the project.

The Transition Year students of Firhouse Community College.

The Giants in the Water

The huge machines jutted up out of the water like the bowed backs of giant armoured warriors, their shoulders hunched, as if ready to link arms to withstand the coming surge of the tide. Most of the gates they held between them were still invisible below the water. It remained to be seen if they could be lifted in time to stop what was coming. Giants-1Spanning the five-hundred-and-twenty-metre width of the river, and standing as high as a five-storey building, the Thames Barrier was the second biggest flood defence barrier in the world – and in economic terms at least, the world’s most important barrier. If it failed to work today, everyone would find out why.

‘They’re like giant warriors,’ Blowfly said. ‘Jutting up out of the water like that, their backs hunched, ready to lift those gates.’

‘What are you talking about?’ His partner frowned, taking a drag on her cigarette and blowing some smoke.

‘The machines – they’re like giants,’ he repeated.

Jerm threw him a quizzical glance and then turned her gaze to the massive engineering works in front of them. The two investigators were standing about fifty metres upstream on the north bank of the Thames. Behind them was a park, across the river from them, the barrier’s information centre and a car park. From their vantage point, they could see the police divers pulling the dead body out of the water and into their rigid inflatable boat. Jerm squinted at one of the steel and concrete towers. They were topped by what she thought looked like an armadillo’s shell with a big section cut out of the middle. But even that didn’t describe them properly.

How are they like giants, exactly?’ she asked. ‘They’re big, bloody . . . I dunno, machine islands.’

‘It’s just a metaphor,’ Blowfly sighed. ‘Never mind.’

‘That help you much when you’re investigating a terrorist act?’ she inquired. ‘Making up metaphors? Helps to get the synapses firing, does it?’

‘Never mind,’ he growled.

Bill Flynn and Jemimah Hearn, known to their colleagues as Blowfly and Jerm, were part of an international unit attached to Interpol, that investigated crimes with far-reaching consequences. The dead body wasn’t the reason they were here, but they expected it would tie in soon enough. They had been called because a gang of well-organized criminals had broken into the control centre of the Thames Barrier in the dark hours of the morning and destroyed the main computer. Giants-2They hadn’t stopped there – they obviously knew that each of the ten gates that stretched between the towers could be closed using its own controls and the gang had succeeded in breaking through to the access tunnels and damaging most of individual controls as well. Several workers and security guards had been injured in the attack.

‘This must be what it feels like to be on the subs’ bench in the Premiership,’ Blowfly commented.

‘Mm,’ Jerm agreed.

They were only one of a number of units represented at the scene and Blowfly and Jerm were having to step back and wait their turn to look around. As well as the Met’s Marine Policing Unit, there were officers from Counter Terrorism Command and, Jerm suspected, but couldn’t be sure, a few spooks from MI5. She and her partner were here to study the big picture, to investigate the potential repercussions of the crime beyond London, or even Britain. But there was a pecking order here and Counter Terrorism Command were the ones with the biggest, sharpest beaks. In the UK, terrorism trumped every other crime and this was CTC’s turf.

Jerm was tall, with cropped, untidy dark brown hair. She had a face that was attractive in a hard-bitten type of way, but looked designed to deliver bad news. Blowfly was a few inches shorter, a tidy, trimly built man with fine-boned, Chinese features, a gentle manner and an Irish accent. Jerm chewed her lip as she flicked her cigarette butt out into the river.

‘I wish you wouldn’t do that,’ Blowfly said.

‘Yeah, I know. Sorry.’

This case was already getting messy and she wondered if being here was a waste of their time. A few metres away from Jerm was another man, by the name of Brunel. A thickset, sallow-skinned man with dark bushy hair and beard, he was one of the engineers from the Environment Agency, who managed the barrier. He was here to liaise with the police, but they were all waiting for the body to be brought ashore now, so he had time to fret about the gigantic machines out in the river. Giants-4Brunel had a pair of binoculars pressed to his eyes and was anxiously watching the gates. The attack on the barrier had been carefully timed. There was a storm surge expected from the North Sea, a colossal rush of water that would flow right up the river towards London. If the gates were not closed in time, a huge area of the city could be flooded. Millions of people and billions of pounds in property lay in the path of the surge. If the river flooded the city, the damage, and possible death toll, would be catastrophic.

‘So they’re having to crank those gates closed by hand?’ Blowfly asked the engineer.

‘Yes,’ Brunel answered tersely. ‘The outer gates, the ones closest to the banks, are smaller. You can see they’ve already been shut. But it’s the big ones under the water we have to get closed. And it’s taking too damned long.’

‘And they have to be raised up?’ Blowfly grimaced. ‘How heavy are these gates?’

‘About three thousand three hundred tonnes each.’

‘Oookay,’ Blowfly breathed. ‘That should be easy enough, then. You’ve done this before, right?’

‘Only in tests,’ Brunel replied. ‘We’ve never had to do it while facing down a storm surge like this one. You have to prepare for the worst, but . . . you hope that it’ll never actually happen.’

‘And how much of London is on the floodplain?’ Jerm prompted him.

‘About a hundred and twenty five square kilometres,’ Brunel told her.

‘That’s . . . that’s a lot of it.’

‘Yes. And my house is slap bang in the middle of it.’

They all turned to stare at the barrier. The gates were being raised in pairs – the ones nearest the banks first, then the next ones in and so on. The progress was painfully slow. The first two main gates were just rising above the water’s surface. Each gate was like a lengthwise slice of a cylinder, normally lying underwater, flush with the concrete base in the riverbed to keep it out of the way of boat traffic. When the huge hydraulic arms on the towers rotated the axles, the steel slab rotated up from its base, and swung into place to stand on its edge and block the path of the water. With the oncoming combination of a storm surge and the river already at high tide, the gates should have been shut over an hour ago. Even now, the level of the river was noticeably higher than normal.

The police boat had reached the riverbank and now the dead body was being lifted up to the assortment of investigators waiting to examine it. Blowfly and Jerm walked over, joining the huddle of men and women who crowded round the drenched corpse. It was a young white woman, small and of slight build, with shoulder-length brown hair, a narrow, pinched face and blue eyes. She was wearing grey suit trousers, a matching jacket, still buttoned, and a light green shirt.

‘Doesn’t look like she came dressed for sabotage, does it?’ Blowfly muttered.

‘She didn’t work here, so what else was she doing out on that tower?’ Jerm said.

Her skin had a tinge of blue and was marked by post-mortem gouges and abrasions – they had probably occurred where her body had been pinned by the current against the base of the tower wall where she’d been found. A detective inspector from CTC was already looking for any obvious cause of death.

‘Looks like a head injury, here on the back of the skull, but I’d say she drowned,’ he declared. ‘Hit, knocked out and thrown in, maybe?’

Nobody answered. He was only saying what they were all thinking anyway. He started going through the pockets. He found a wallet and opened it to reveal a typical collection of credit cards, loyalty cards, sodden receipts and some banknotes. There was also a driver’s licence and an ID card of some kind.

‘Antonia Abbot,’ the CTC guy said. ‘The ID is for the PR department of a company called Hewbrys Holdings.’

‘We know them,’ Jerm spoke up. ‘They’re the parent company for a few different businesses that have been investigated for environmental offences. Nobody’s ever got anything to stick against Hewbrys themselves though. Funny that she’s one of their people; Hewbrys has their headquarters in the Docklands. If the river floods, they’ll be one of the worst hit.’

‘Maybe she had some grudge against the company?’ one of the other detectives said.

‘And decided to take out half of London along with her own firm?’ Jerm snorted. ‘Hell of a grudge.’

Giants-8‘The video footage from the security cameras showed the terrorists dressed up all commando style,’ the CTC guy said. ‘She’s in a business suit. Maybe she was a hostage. But why her?’

‘And why did the kill her, if they managed to get in and do what they wanted to do?’ Blowfly asked. ‘Maybe she knew something, was involved in some way and they couldn’t leave her as a witness.’

‘It’s all conjecture at the moment,’ the CTC officer said, waving over the medical examiner, who was waiting to take a look at the body. ‘We’re analysing all the video now, but the gang destroyed the cameras as they came through. Let’s move back, let the SOCOs do their work. We’ll contact you when we have any more information.’

It wasn’t quite a dismissal, but it was close enough. The CTC were already marking their territory. The scene of crime officers were hovering, dressed in their disposable white suits, waiting to join the medical examiner at the body. More of them were already visible on the structures out on the river. Jerm caught Blowfly’s eye and tilted her head toward the railing where Brunel was still standing with his binoculars. They walked over together, leaving the others behind.

‘Remember the case with the bushfire in Australia last year?’ she asked her partner.

‘What, in Victoria?’ Blowfly replied. ‘The dead guy in the creek?’

‘Yeah. Guy named Cameron Davis. You remember where he worked? It was one of the places that burned down during the fire.’

Blowfly thought for a moment, searching his prodigious memory for the information.

‘It was a chemical plant – Osborne Solutions,’ he said. He paused, then added: ‘Jesus. That was owned by Hewbrys as well. Davis was hit on the head and left to die too, in the fire. He woke up and tried to put it out, but he burned up anyway. We thought that was just a bunch of git-faced firebugs. You reckon there could be a link?’

‘You think it could be a coincidence?’

‘You know how I feel about coincidences.’

‘Yeah, but sometimes stuff happens that’s really like other stuff,’ Jerm replied. ‘Or it seems connected and we make more of it than we should, simply because there was this random connection when, actually, random stuff happens every day that we don’t make a big thing out of because it’s mostly about stuff that doesn’t matter to us.’

Blowfly threw her a glance.

‘What, you’re a philosopher now?’ he sniffed. ‘So we gonna check it out?’

‘Bloody right we are.’

They both gazed out at the river for a moment.

‘Where are the heads, then?’ Jerm demanded.

‘What?’

‘If those things are giants, y’know, like giant warriors, where are the heads?’

‘Why do you have to be so literal?’ he snapped.

‘You mean, accurate?’

‘Oh, bugger off. Go smoke another cigarette.’

‘What, you like my smoking now?’ she grunted. ‘Or are you just trying to get me to die a little faster?’

‘The thought had crossed my mind,’ he murmured. They both grinned.

‘I think they look more like broken armadillos – the top bits anyway,’ Jerm added.

‘Oh, sure. That works,’ Blowfly said.

Brunel’s shoulders were hunched, his posture tense. The outer pair of gates had been raised and the next ones were closing, but it was like watching the minute hand on a clock. Slower, actually. Even so, the two investigators couldn’t help being impressed.

‘It’s pretty incredible, when you think about it,’ Blowfly commented. ‘Gates that can close off a river this size, hold back the ocean. It’s some piece of work.’

‘Some day soon, it won’t be enough,’ Brunel rasped. ‘Engineering like this, you have to think tens of decades ahead – longer. And this thing certainly won’t last until the end of this century. Giants-6Sea levels are rising, you know? Most people in London don’t pay any attention to what we do here, but every year, the North Sea comes surging in further, harder than before. In the eighties, the barrier was closed four times. In the nineties, it closed thirty-five times. In the noughties, seventy-five times. We can only guess what this decade will be like, but we’re less than halfway through and by March last year, it had been closed sixty-five times. And closing it doesn’t solve all our problems; you can’t block that amount of water and expect it to stay put. Block it here, it floods out in other places.’

He pressed the binoculars to his eyes again, and what he saw seemed to release some of the tension from his body. He ran his gaze from one side of the barrier to the other.

‘We’re going to do it,’ he rasped. ‘The scumbags might have wrecked the computers, but the hydraulics are still sound. I think we’ll close the gates in time . . . to stop the worst of it, anyway.’

Jerm looked out off the riverbank at the water flowing past their feet.

‘Is it me, or has the river risen a bit?’ she asked.

‘Yes, it can happen pretty fast, once it starts. We’ll have to go in a while,’ Brunel said. ‘The water level will come up over this bank before long. Like I said, you can’t block a river and expect it to stay put.’

Blowfly gazed down at the rising water. Then he raised his head and looked around. The city didn’t just stop downstream from the barrier. In every direction, he could see buildings; homes and businesses, stretching to the horizon.

‘You said the barrier won’t last forever – they’ll have to build something bigger. Giants-5The sea’s just going to keep on coming. So . . . where’s all that extra water going to go, when you block it off?’

Brunel looked over at him, but didn’t answer, dropping his eyes to the ground instead.

‘If the sea wants in, there’s only so much you can do,’ he said softly. ‘We won’t need terrorists to do us damage. You stop the sea here, it pushes in somewhere else. If we want to keep living on our rivers, on the coast . . .’ He shrugged and looked through his binoculars again. ‘We can’t protect everyone. We have to prioritize – we’re talking massive cost here, so that usually means taking care of the money-makers first. For everyone else, well . . . somebody’s going to get their feet wet.’

As he said that, he stepped back from the riverbank. Blowfly and Jerm did the same. The water was starting to lap over the lip of concrete. It was time to put some distance between them and the river.

Hello from Mount Seskin Community College, Ireland

Mount Seskin Community College recording a Weather Report podcast for Going Nowhere, Biennale in Melbourne. Recording at Contact Studio, South Dublin County Council Arts Office

Mount Seskin Community College recording a Weather Report podcast for Going Nowhere, Biennale in Melbourne. Recording at Contact Studio, South Dublin County Council Arts Office

When our school was invited to become a substation in the Weather Stations project towards the end of the last school year there was a vague understanding on our part that the project was something to do with climate change and writers from across the world. How we as a school community would engage with the project was not quite quantifiable, at least to us, at that point. Our school year opened with a presentation to staff on the notion of climate change. This provided a springboard for a storm of creative work that has seen our students from across the school working with two authors, Oisin McGann and Tony Birch. Our students have recorded podcasts of their weather memories in Rua Red. These podcasts have since become part of an art installation in Melbourne whilst the work of 1st Year, Jordan O’Toole, has been selected to be broadcast on Australian radio. Other students have visited the Civic Theatre to take part in a cli-fi debate. Still more got to visit the Science Gallery in Trinity College. Within the school, under the dynamic and creative guidance of a core team of teachers, students have been given opportunities to respond in a variety of ways to the issues and challenges raised by Weather Stations. Creative written pieces, tweets to Mother Earth, posters and a sculpture by 1st Years are just some of the ways in which our students have responded so far to the project.

A powerful aspect of the project is that both teachers and students can respond in a variety of ways. Some activities are whole-school based; specially designed lesson plans that are delivered to all students at a specified time or the suspension of class so that we can enjoy individual students reading their work over the school intercom. Other activities are driven by subject teachers with their own classes and this allows for individual, creative responses. The quality of the work is underpinned by the huge investment by the core teaching team here in school and the continuous support and encouragement of Tallaght Community Arts and Collective Action.

Our engagement with the project has been hugely stimulating and enjoyable. The response from both students and teachers is so positive and the success of activities creates energy for further engagement. We didn’t quite know where we were going when we set out on our Weather Stations journey but the trip so far has been great and we look forward to continuing to respond to the challenges of climate change over the coming months.

Ms Helen Taylor, Principal, Mount Seskin Community College, Tallaght, Dublin. Ireland

Hello from Colaiste de Hide, Ireland

Colaiste de Hide students working with Wheeler Centre writer in residence, Tony Birch

Colaiste de Hide students working with Wheeler Centre writer in residence, Tony Birch

Hi, a Chairde,

Is muidne daltaí Choláiste de hÍde, Gaelscoil anseo i dTamhlacht. Foghlaimímid gach ábhar trí Ghaeilge, ceann de theangacha oifigiúla na hÉireann. We learn all our subjects through Irish, the other official language in Ireland. We would like to introduce ourselves to your school community. We have been participating in this project on how to change people’s attitudes on climate change.

Ar dtús a little bit about the school – Tallaght is in West Dublin and our school is carved into the local Park, Tymon Park. Check it out on Google maps and www.colaistedehide.ie . it is named after the first president of the Republic of Ireland, Douglas Hyde/ Dubhghlas de hÍde. It has great facilities and 323 students. Our school uniform is green and red. We are a group of 15-16 year olds from the TY –Transition Year . That is a year between the middle state exam (Teastas Sóisearach/ Junior Certificate) and the senior state exam (Ardteist/ Leaving Cert). It gives us a chance to try new things out, go on loads of tours and listen to new ideas outside of the classroom.

As part of the Weather Stations Project we have had workshops with the Irish resident writer, Oisín Mc Gann and the Australian writer, Tony Birch. We took a trip to the Strange Weather exhibition in the Science Gallery in Trinity College, Dublin. A few of us recorded a weather report in German, which was uploaded onto YouTube. We also composed short pieces about our bit of Irish sky, which we recorded in the local community arts office and which might have been heard on ABC in Australia! Due to our participation in the project we were nominated for the Credit Union “Young People of the Year” awards. In classes we did work on Hurricane Katrina, weather reports and practical tips to save energy in German, Masks using recycled materials in Art and more on the science of weather in the Science class.

Ta súil againn go bhfuil sibh go maith agus go gcloisfimid uaibh go luath! Bis bald!

 

Is muidne le meas,

 

Daltaí na hIdirbhliana ó Choláiste de hÍde

Transition year Students from Coláiste de hÍde

Cremation

I’m not sure when I first noticed that the tree was dead. I wasn’t even sure what kind of tree it was – a poplar or maybe a birch. Before this, my main concern about it had been that it was close to the garage, which stands separate from the house, in the corner of the garden. There were traces of cracks in the concrete around the base of the wall, where it looked like the roots might eventually undermine the foundations. Cremation-1Like so many things in life, I didn’t pay much attention to that tree until it became a problem. It was in a blind spot in my consciousness; there, but unnoticed. There was this thing towering over the back of the garden, at least as high as the house, and I hadn’t even looked at the leaves to see what type of tree it was.

I was certainly paying attention to it now.

It hadn’t reached maturity – the trunk was less than a foot in diameter at the base and it was about thirty feet tall. A thin, lanky adolescent, yet to find its bulky strength but already high enough to make an unwieldy corpse. I had noticed that the bark had started cracking and lifting away from the wood, no doubt due to a disease of some kind. With a baby, a toddler, a budding teenager and all the work I still had to do on the house, we had a lot of other things going on, having a disease in a tree treated was way down on my list of priorities. But soon the bark was peeling away in heavy leathery strips, exposing the pale bare wood of the trunk. Woodlice took up residence in busy clumps in the gaps and cracks of the sloughing skin. When the leaves didn’t come back in the spring, I knew we had a problem. A dead tree, big enough and close enough to damage the roof and even the wall of our garage if it fell.

This wasn’t the first tree to threaten our home. On the day we’d picked up the keys for our new house, we arrived to find a heavy bough had fallen from an ancient horse chestnut at the back of the garden, in the other corner – one of a line of gnarled and ancient trees that ran behind the row of houses and had been there long before anything had been built on the land. Cremation-2The branch had narrowly missed our neighbour’s garage and could have done thousands of euros worth of damage. There we were with a house in need of renovation, an empty shell, still waiting for a heating system, a kitchen, bathrooms and even doors – so much of our money was bound into this place for the next few years and now the first thing we had to do was pay six hundred euros to chop down a dead chestnut tree. Apart from the fact that I hated having to cut down such a beautiful old beast, it was money we simply couldn’t spare, but there was no avoiding it. If the tree fell, it could demolish our neighbour’s garage or crash through the back of our house.

That job took a full day, with three men, a cherry-picker and a tractor and trailer. The house was showered in sawdust that floated into the air in gritty clouds as the tree surgeons started high and worked their way down in a roar of chainsaws, lopping off a piece at a time and either dropping them or lowering them on ropes. That old chestnut ended up spread out across our garden in its component parts, as if waiting to be assembled again.

I watched as much as I could, trying to learn how they did it. I figured, I never knew when I might need to cut down a tree myself. They wouldn’t take the logs in part payment and I couldn’t keep them in the garden – they’d take up too much space and wreck our back lawn. Something else we wouldn’t have money to fix for a few years. I didn’t have the chainsaw, or the skills, to chop the huge logs into pieces I could burn. So I kept a few chunks, let a friend of mine take as much as his car could hold, and let the tree surgeons drive off with a large tractor trailer full of logs from our tree.

That was in 2010, just before we had the worst winter Ireland had seen in decades, when I ended up burning logs almost every day for about four months. Logs I had to buy. I was well bruised from kicking myself over that winter.

And then the other tree died. I could appreciate the irony. One of the things I’d looked forward to about finally owning my own property was planting a few trees with the kids. Instead, there would be two less trees in the world because of me. We were hit with several weeks of windy weather and I anchored the brittle mast of dead wood as best I could with a couple of ropes, worried that it would fall before I had a chance to control that fall. In the meantime, I started to do a bit of research online, learning how to cut down a tree. There were a number of helpful demo videos on YouTube – and many, many more that showed the accidents that could happen when idiots with no expertise or experience tried some DIY lumberjacking. Smashed roofs, walls, cars, cut and crush injuries . . . there seemed to be no end to the damage you could do with relatively little effort.

I also found out that it was impossible to hire a chainsaw in Ireland. Presumably because of the aforementioned idiots and the amputated limbs that resulted. But I was still confident. This wasn’t a huge tree and as long as I could get it to fall diagonally across the garden, it wouldn’t do any damage. I wouldn’t even need a chainsaw. I had a couple of bow saws I figured would do the job.

I love wood in all its forms. I love walking in forests, I love working with wood with my hands, I love the colours and textures, the feel of cutting and shaping it. I like to burn it too – I prefer a wood fire to a peat fire. There may be less heat and it does burn out faster – depending on how well the wood is seasoned – but it also burns out almost completely, leaving hardly any ash, compared with the mounds left over when you burn peat. I hate the powdery grey clouds that ash makes when you have to clear out the fireplace.

It’s better for the environment too. The managed forests replace trees as they’re felled. Young trees absorb carbon as they grow and hold onto it, so using wood as fuel is, theoretically, carbon neutral. As long as we’re replacing them, they’re not adding any new carbon to the atmosphere. Cremation-3Ireland’s peat bogs, on the other hand, would take hundreds, if not thousands of years to form again, if it was even possible. And in the meantime, we’re releasing all the carbon trapped for thousands of years in that peat. The oil, coal and gas we’ve based most of our civilization upon have taken even longer to form and there’s no question that they’ll eventually run out.

A wood fire sounds better than peat too. That whuff, the crackling is the sound of a comfortable home. Every couple of months we get sacks of logs delivered. They’re always too big for the fireplace, too chunky to get a fire going, and for someone who works at a desk a lot of the time, there’s no better stress relief than getting the axe out and spending an hour splitting logs and chopping some kindling.

The weather was getting cold again, there were new storms coming and the tree had been standing dead for too long. So one Saturday, I went out, and tied two new ropes to branches halfway up to help steer it as it fell. The other end of one rope was anchored to a heavy stake in the ground, the second tied to the trunk of another tree. The dog was safe in her dog-run, watching with pensive curiosity, the cat was off on a hunt somewhere. Our teenage son was too cool to be interested, but our two daughters, three and four-and-a-half years old, were fascinated. They were under strict instructions to wait inside out of the way, but they pressed their faces against the back window, waiting for Daddy to amuse them – which, of course, was my most important role in life.

The key thing was making sure the tree fell across the lawn, not towards the house, not onto the hedge and fence that bordered the back of the garden and definitely not onto the garage. And obviously I had to be careful not to be flattened by it too. A lot of the YouTube videos went through my mind as I started sawing. Climbing a stepladder, I cut off a couple of the bigger branches on the garage side, hoping the loss of weight on that side would help persuade it to fall the other way.

Then I started on the trunk. I cut two wedges out, one on the front and then one slightly higher up on the back, leaving it standing on a ‘hinge’ of wood just a couple of inches thick, which should, in theory, dictate the direction of the fall. The wood was taut, but lifeless and dry. I had assumed the tree was unstable, unbalanced and brittle, just waiting to topple at the first bite of the saw. Cremation-4Instead, it just stayed standing there after I cut out the second wedge, attached to its stump by no more than two inches of wood across the trunk. I gazed up into its branches, wary of its weight, but surprised and struck by a newfound respect for how well formed this thing was. Thirty feet high, with asymmetrical branches and yet so precisely balanced that it stayed upright on a base little thicker than the edge of my hand. It had taken decades to get to this size, through all manner of weather and even now that the life was gone from it, it was still stronger than I’d given it credit for.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my two little girls at the window, waiting. Putting a hand against the trunk, I pushed. And the tree came toppling down, hitting the marshy lawn with a soft crunching thump. I couldn’t hear my daughters from outside, but my wife later told me she’d never heard the girls laugh so loud.

Daddy pushed a tree down with one hand.

I untied the ropes, then set about cutting the tree up into logs and sticks. I left them along the wall of the garage to season for a while, stacking the thinner branches into a rack I’d made by the fence and tossing the bundles of twigs into a pile to be used as kindling.

We only light a fire in the evenings, so it might burn for three or four hours before we let it go out. That tree took over ten years to grow and we used up all the wood from it in about two weeks. I thought a lot about that – the whole idea of burning stuff for heat and energy. And that’s what we do; despite having other, limitless sources of energy at our disposal, we continue to burn in hours something that takes years, centuries or millennia to form.

As a species, we are setting fire to our house to keep warm. We are, ever so slowly, cremating the earth we live on. I love a good fire, but I miss the tree.

 

 

Mount Seskin Community College, Tallaght, Dublin – Weather Reflections

2nd year English class ( students 13-14yrs). Work developed following the Tony Birch creative writing workshop at Trinity College Dublin, TCD, September 2014

 

Mount Seskin CC Weather Stations webpage

 

10 OCTOBER 2014     A DESCRIPTION OF SKY

Last night when I went outside to look at the sky, it was like a blanket that covered us from the sun. It was quite humid out and it was spitting rain .I couldn’t see the blue of the sky. The sky was covered with a grey like colour. A few years ago the sky was covered with broken cloud and it was nippy (cold) just the way I liked it.               Chloe Mc Carthy

Weather Stations: Memory

I remember when I was 11 years old and it was extremely hot outside. I called into my friends’ houses. We all played a big game of football on the green. We played for ages and then we all got water guns and balloons and the biggest water fight ever. By the time we finished it was only 1 O’clock but we were all soaked.               Lee Hyland

Colourful sunset

 

As I look into the sunset the colours of orange and purple beam in the sunset, there are only a few clouds but it’s cold.

As I look to my left it is dark but if I look the opposite way it is purple and orange.

When I was young at this time in December it would most definitely be dull and rainy.

There would be puddles on the ground, the grass would be muddy and it would be misty.  Josh O’Keeffe

 

Description of the Sky

10/10/2014

The sky is white and calm.

It makes me feel calm and happy that it is not cloudy, rainy or sunny.

It is just right.

It is also windy and cold which goes well with the white sky.

By Awais Zafar

 

Description of the Sky
It was nearly seven o’clock and the sky above me was still bright. The sun made the whole sky light up. There were very few clouds in the sky tonight. I sat there in my back garden, lying down on warmish grass and watched the sun set. It was so beautiful and colourful. Pink spread through the blue gloomy sky.       Siobhan Samoila

 

Weather Stations

It’s about half 6 and I am looking up at the sky and the sun is shining beautifully. I love when the sun is shining because it gives me an opportunity to play my favourite sport football. When the sun is shining it puts me in such a happy mood.

It was the end of summer and before we go back to school me and my thought it would be great to end the summer on a high and go to the beach with the family and also our cousins. We checked the weather forecast to see if it could go ahead and it turned out that it was 17 degrees. So we grabbed all our gear and told our relatives and we all headed up to Bray beach. We were having so much fun building sand castles and putting our parents in the sand. The funnest part was splashing in the water with my 2 year old baby brother. Then all of a sudden it started lashing rain, then it started to hailstone. We all took our belongings and ran to the cars. While making our way to the car the hail was hurting my back because I was topless but thank god we got into the cars before it got really bad.           Tawwab Owalabi

 

My memory

When I was young I went to a place called Glendalough,

I was only about 6 and I was there with my family. It was very hot out, so hot we didn’t see one man there with upper body wear on.

It was from 27 degrees to about 35,

I fell asleep for 5 minutes and when I woke up it was misty, rainy and very dull and the dog was soaking wet, we all had to go home.     Josh O’Keeffe

 

 

WEATHER MEMORY

10/10/2014          Description of the sky

Today wasn’t a clear day at all it was raining all day. It was dull outside and very cold and foggy however there wasn’t that many people in class as well and the teacher still went on and on about work in school. When it was lunch time it wasn’t a highlight at all because I was drenched and really cold on the way to lunch and back. School was finished early today because there was a teacher meeting after school. I was so glad that school was over early. My mum came to pick me up from school after I was done. She asked me how was my day, and I didn’t answer. I went to bed early and when I woke up I was happy again.    Kashifa Morenikeji

 

 

Jobstown Flood

10/10/2014

In 2012 there was a flood in Jobstown. It was raining heavily all through the day and by the evening it had flooded. Water came into some peoples’ homes but my house was safe. Everybody was outside their front doors observing the flood. People were helping to push cars through the water. The people who went onto the street were wet all the way up to their knees. It was a surprise for me because I had never seen anything like this before in Jobstown.         Awais Zafar

A DESCRIPTION OF THE SKY ChloeMcCarthy

Colourful sunset Josh OKeeffe

Description of the sky by Awais Zafar

Description of the sky Siobhain Samoila

Jobstown Flood by Awais Zafar

Kashifa Moreniken a memory

My memory JoshOK

SKY DESCRIPTION Saoirse

Sky description WarrenDowman

WEATHER STATIONS Karl Byrne

Weather Memory Siobhain Samoila

Weather Station Siobhain Samoila

Weather Station Kristan O’Neill

Weather stations Tawwab Owalabi

Weather Stations by Lee Hyland MEMORY

Weather Stations by Lee Hyland Sky.

Weather Stations James PosseOliver

Weather Stations Dylan Byrne Carr

Weather Station Tori Deegan