A centuries-old convent is using green energy and sustainable farming in a bid to make itself self-sufficient – and its 29 nuns are encouraging other religious communities to do the same.
St Mary’s Abbey in Glencairn, an enclosed order of Trappistine nuns in Co Waterford, has planted 27 acres of bio-energy fuel Miscanthus, an Asian elephant grass, which has replaced oil as its main heat source.
As part of a green energy drive started in 2016 it has also installed solar panels on the convent’s roof to heat water and boosted insulation in its property, part of which dates back to the 17th century.
“As a religious community we should be showing by example to others. The earth is a gift to humanity,” said Sister Lily Scullion (78).
Cattle, sheep and greenhouses help make the monastery self-sufficient for much of its food. The nuns also grow apples, wheat and vegetables across 200 acres.
The nuns have set aside five acres of land for wildlife. A system of reed beds purifies sewage.