IEN Gathering in Cloughjordan is now a member of the Irish Environmental Network, as we report recently on our website here. So we were delighted to attend IEN’s recent Gathering of Members, held in Cloughjordan in County Tipperary from 24-26 November 2023. In this short report, Executive Committee Member Mary Sinnott shares her reflections on the weekend, which was also attended by Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, our National Cycling Coordinator.   

The weekend gathering took place in the Cloughjordan Enterprise Centre. It was a carefully considered, well planned, informal exchange that allowed new members like me to meet many other seasoned advocates. 

We had ample opportunity to get to know all attendees, learn from them, and understand common challenges. We had separate sessions on topical NGO challenges including: how to deal with misinformation and online abuse, environmental and ecological economics, preparing press releases, using social media effectively, and succession planning. All of those topics were engaging and provoked much constructive discussion. In developing into more effective and more professional organisations, succession planning is particularly important. The recent sudden passing of Andrew St. Ledger of CELT (see here) – and indeed today’s very sad news of the passing of Michael Ewing, the former Coordinator of the Environmental Pillar and IEN (see here) – reinforces sharply the relevance of this topic.

On Saturday afternoon, we had an outdoor session which commenced with the planting of an Irish oak tree to commemorate Andrew St. Ledger. The tour following this allowed us to explore the Eco-Village, to get to know each other better and to learn about how it was conceived and how it is developing. Thankfully, the crisp and cold November weather allowed us to enjoy it without much hurry.

More than anything, the weekend was fun, light, instructive and reassuring. I was quickly convinced that IEN is a very beneficial network for its members. Learning that the trick to advocacy is repetition and persistence was a reassuring diamond that I took home with me.

As has just recently been accepted as a member of IEN, having the chance to join its 2023 Gathering was timely and beneficial. It is very clear to me now that membership will offer us a wide network of NGOs to exchange and collaborate with, to share information and training supports, and avail of the financial benefit of membership. It is a network that this organisation will benefit from as we evolve and seek to meet our strategic aims. wishes to sincerely thank the IEN organisers for such a rich weekend of activities and for the warm welcome into the network.

And thanks to Davie Philip in Cultivate for the photos used above!

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