Photographs courtesy Tidy Towns Facebook Page
Minutes of Skerries CoderDojo AGM
29 September 2016, Skerries Community Centre (Old School)
Adam Barry, Barry Keegan, Garry Rogers, Gavin Killen, Jack Halpin, Karen Flannery, Máire Goldsmith, María A. Mañueco Ramos, Mat May, Myles Slevin, Paula Hickey, Sabine McKenna, Stephen Guildea, Thomas Lepel, Tony Graham.
Chairperson’s (“Champion’s”) Report
Sabine McKenna, current Chairperson (until June 2017 Replacement needed!), gave the following report:
Monthly CoderDojos (October 2015 to June 2016) continue to be in demand, particularly with beginners, although there is a bit of a fall-off in the advanced groups. Still, we barely find enough mentors to offer the spaces that there is demand for! Due to lack of availability of rooms in May & June, we did not accept any new coders after April.
We offered Scratch coding for beginners and intermediate; a small but hardcore html group; Minecraft Modding and then Unity (game design) for the oldest group. Over the last year, the Scratch Intro lead mentor had to leave, and the gap she left is felt; now, the Scratch Plus lead mentor has to end his involvement as well.
Very successful: Mentors encouraging children to present their projects to the group. Didn’t get to the next stage, where ninjas would present to the entire Dojo – we have started the process of obtaining projectors (follow-up needed with the Community Centre).
Within the Skerries Community Association, of which Skerries CoderDojo is a committee (as well as being part of the CoderDojo movement), we participated in the Chairs’ and Committee Meeting in June (Karen Flannery, Deirdre Kelly). This was very useful for forging new connections and for letting the other committees know what it is that we are doing.
We are also present on the SCA website and were included in the annual report; one of our mentors (Tony Graham) is a Director of the SCA
Membership: We have a Mailchimp email list for all parents (244 subscribers), including potentially interested ones; a Google Group for parents (66 members); and a Google Group for organisers / helpers / mentors (49 members).
Equipment: Over the last year, we bought four laptops which can be booked via the Eventbrite system. This is an important step towards inclusion, enabling families which do not have a laptop at home to attend, and also offers families with more children than laptops to sign up more than one child. We have also been successful in obtaining five Raspberry Pis from the CoderDojo foundation.
Mentors and Helpers: A number of new mentors and helpers joined us over the last 12 months, thank you to those who joined & those who continue to help out, CoderDojo would not exist without you! The Garda Vetting Process has been carried out for the first batch of mentors and helpers, and will be offered again in the near future. A good number of our mentors and helpers have attended Child Protection Training, either offered by the CoderDojo foundation or Skerries Community Association, and those who did so strongly recommended attendance to other mentors. Keep your eyes open for announcments of new
Scratch Training for new mentors was last offered in 2015, and should be offered again soon.
Outlook: We need a firm Lead Mentor for each group, who will themselves find a replacement if they cannot make it; a treasurer for Jan 2017, and a new champion for summer 2017 (or earlier, if someone has come to the decision to take this very rewarding job on now).
Summary 2016 to date (September 2016)
|Sponsorship||€640||RazorSocial covering the rent|
|Rent Little Theatre||€480|
|Opening Bank Balance Jan 2016||€732|
|2016 income to date||€576|
|Closing bank balance sept 2016||€1308|
|cash float held||€60|
|Total money held||€1368|
Karen Flannery, our treasurer, presented the figures above.
Overall, income from the very popular Tuck Shop is strong, whereas donations have gone down, possibly because parents spend that bit extra on the Tuck Shop. It may, however, be a good idea to make parents more aware of the donations box.
The meeting thanked Karen for her wonderful services as treasurer, which she will continue to carry out until the end of the year; from January 2017, Máire Goldsmith will take over. Thank you, Máire!
Discussion & outcomes
- A number of parents offered their services as new mentors and helpers.
- There will be a New Mentor Training from 3 p.m. on Sun October 9 (i.e. directly preceding the next CoderDojo), based on the beginners’ handouts;
scratch.mit.edu has a number of self-learning resources as well
- Mat May will research cost for some peripherals to be connected to the Raspberry Pis.
- Sabine will pursue the projector situation.
- We need to be able to store things in the community centre, e.g. the four laptops, a couple of screens – Sabine to contact the Community Centre and ask about possibility of obtaining (or sharing) a locker.
- Peer mentoring would be a positive step forward, Scratch Intro and Scratch Plus mentors to discuss how best to do this.
- Garda Vetting and Child Protection Training to be offered again as soon as possible.
- A strong lead mentor for Scratch Intro is needed.
Skerries is a fantastic place to live in – and it’s now officially the top Tidy Town in Ireland! Well done to Skerries Tidy Towns Committee.
The chair of Skerries Community Association, Geoff McEvoy, said on the day:
“I know I speak for the whole board when I express how delighted we are for Ann, Maeve, Mary and the whole Tidy Towns team. An award like this is the product of years of hard work by the committee and an army of volunteers. Skerries is lucky to have them!”
For links to some of the major coverage of this fantastic news item, go to the very bottom of this post.
A lot of work has gone into making Skerries an ever-better place for us locals and visitors alike. It’s not just the weekly work parties… you can read about the work this very active committee is doing on their dedicated page here on our Skerries Community Association website (they are, after all, one of our many committees).
A considerable amount of research, planning, and reporting is involved as well.
The Tidy Towns Committee this year focused on the Winning Value of Water – this is a piece by Mary Conway (you can see her on the above picture, fourth from right) that significantly contributed to the win.
The value of Water
Skerries is a seaside town which lies approx 25 kilometres north of Dublin City. It has two beaches, a harbour and a restored windmill and watermill. It has a long association with the sea. In previous times the residents depended on fishing for a livelihood. In recent times the population of Skerries has increased five fold and now stands just short ten thousand people. Luckily there is a very good community spirit in the town and enthusiasm for conserving energy in general and especially water as you will see from some of the projects below.
Floraville Community Garden in the Town Centre.
The new Community Garden provided under auspices of the Chamber of Commerce. This garden was designed in strict accordance with the recommendations of the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study and other regulatory guidelines of Fingal County Council and the Department of Environment. This includes collection of rainwater falling onto all pavements and hard standing areas, its attenuation and ultimately its infiltration into the ground.
In addition, it was decided to implement a rainwater harvesting strategy and thereby minimise the amount of water that would be required from the public mains service. This was done by using a shallow underground 3000 litre F-Line rainwater harvesting tank and system so that this amount of water would be available for watering the garden. The system includes a state of the art automatic pumping system to provide the desired gardening water pressure while at the same time minimises power usage to operational periods only. The pump goes into hibernation mode at all other times. Water from this source is used by volunteers who maintain the flower planters around the town.
From the outset the allotment holders wanted to be off-grid, i.e. not connected to mains electricity or water. There’s a stream running through the middle of the allotment fields from where we get our water. It’s pumped from this stream to
a 70,000 liter tank at the highest point of the scheme. From this tank, water troughs around the allotments are fed by gravity flow.
There are about 50 such troughs situated so that from any allotment you shouldn’t have to walk more that 10 meters to get water.
Troughs were deliberately chosen as opposed to standpipes as it was felt that with standpipes, people might use hoses and be more wasteful of water. In addition to this many of the allotment holders have water butts and collect rainwater from shed roofs.
The Skerries allotments group held an open morning to encourage new people to become involved in the allotment community. They set up a sustainable watering system using the existing scheme with a solar pump which pumps water to a large container which is then gravity fed to troughs at various locations in the field.
As to quantities of water saved, I suppose of a hot summers day, an average allotment holder would use 30-40 liters of water on my allotment. There are about 250 allotments so, potentially, that could be 10,000 liters/day that would otherwise have come from the mains. Off course this depends on the weather, whether or not there’s a poly-tunnel, etc. Fingal County Council and the Fingal Leader Partnership did help financially to get started. Increased use of natural mulching and waterbutts in continuously encouraged.
COMMUNITY FOOD GARDEN
This year a site for the community garden has been secured and a Committee are looking at the ways of saving water and they are receiving the co-operation of the allotments group.
Already they have a 1000 litre tank to harness the rainwater from the roof of the wind/watermill. There is consideration being given to the idea of using the stream beside the watermill to draw water using a solar panel and then collect it in a tank. As this project progresses more consideration will be given to rainwater collection and the use of the stream.
Being a member of Skerries Tidy Towns for many years and involved in other community groups I was very impressed with the amount of planning this group has done in short while and have no doubt but it will be successful.
A survey was carried out in the schools about the amount of water saved in homes.
Water/energy conservation publicity in Skerries News
The Tidy Towns Committee arrange with the local News publication to publish a number of abbreviated helpful hints on energy saving from Green homes covering waste reduction, water conservation, energy saving in the home, reducing carbon emissions and tips for recycling. A cartoon character called TiTo was commissioned specially to highlight these tips. Tidy Towns and Skerries Community Association Facebook and websites are used regularly.
Skerries is so lucky to be close to the sea as it provided much enjoyment for the residents. There is a sailing club, rowing club and a surf board group. These clubs provide much needed training for its members. Let us not forget the daily swimmers all year round. There is a safe swimming place on the head which has a area suitable for wheelchairs.
There is great awareness of the power and dangers of the water. A huge number of children are trained to a high level in general water safety every year.
Despite the high level of water sports enjoyed by the people of Skerries the sea took its toll on the fishing people. Last year Community got together and erected a memorial of all the fishermen and other sea users that lost their lives off Skerries.
Skerries Tidy Towns
Skerries Tidy Towns Win In The News
- On the RTÉ Player – Monday’s Nationwide from the competition ceremony in the Helix
- On the Tidy Towns Website
- In the Irish Times: Tidy Towns: Skerries wins competition for the first time
- In the Herald: Skerries cleans up at Tidy Towns
- In the Irish Independent: Thirty years of hard work pay off for Ireland’s new tidiest town
- In the Irish Examiner: Tidy Towns 2016: Skerries this year’s tidiest town with Munster close …
- On Newstalk: Tidy Towns competition: Skerries named overall winner for 2016
On RTE News: Skerries takes top honours in Tidy Towns
The 2016 Annual General Meeting of the Skerries Community Association will take place on Friday 9 (!) September in the Little Theatre, Skerries Community Centre from 8 p.m.
c) Do you know someone who would be a good addition to our Board of Directors? Someone who has the community of Skerries at heart, who would be great at working with our committees for making Skerries an even better place? Then persuade her or him to go forward and become a Director! See below for how.
We are particularly looking for people with understanding / knowledge in one or more of the following areas: Accountancy / Finance / Insurance / Facebook Pages / Websites / Twitter
All the best to them & you,
Sabine (McKenna, Director 2014-16, Secretary 2015/16)
Fingal County Council has submitted the Skerries Age Friendly Town Initiative into Cooperation Ireland’s ‘Pride of Place’ competition. The judging takes place on Thursday 21st July from 10 am until 12.30. After we give them a presentation of our full programme initiative we will bring them to various places in the town to show what has been done. We will have nice Music in Floraville during the morning. This music will be provided a local group and some of the Restaurants will provide some finger food. Come along and enjoy the morning. There will also be a fitness instructor from Fingal County Council at the exercise machines on the beach displaying how to make the best use of them.
We cannot guarantee the weather but hope there will be a buzz around the town and let the Judges see how we enjoy the facilities that are in the town.
A recent video – great introduction to the Age Friendly initiative in Skerries!
A look back at the launch of the Skerries Age Friendly Information Pack in 2015:
To learn more about Skerries Age Friendly Town Initiative, go here.
On Friday, 29 April 2016, after an intense process of engaging with the draft development plan for Fingal County Council, the Skerries Community Association made a formal submission.
Geoff McEvoy, our chair, wrote in his covering letter:
The Skerries Community Association Ltd. is an umbrella group of eleven different committees, made up of several hundred volunteers, devoted to making the quality of life in Skerries even better. The SCA is a not for profit structured as Company Limited by Guarantee. We are governed by a board of fifteen directors. Our vision statement and articles of association are viewable on our website: skerriesca.com Our submission has been informed by discussions at board level and consultation with our member committees, some of whom will also be making their own submissions.
The full text of our submission is available here:
Skerries Community Association is currently drafting a submission for the Fingal County Council Development Plan for 2017-2023.
2023! The kids who are starting school this September will be in 6th Class then, and those who are preparing for Junior Cert right now will be in their early twenties, and even the Leaving Cert will just be a fading memory….
So this is long-term, big-scale thinking which requires reflecting where we want Skerries to be in 2023. The Board of Directors of the Skerries Community Association is basing its work on a submission on the following:
- sustainable development, in keeping with the current character of the town
- When it comes to economic development, a technology park may be a good fit; industrial areas would not be
- the needs of commuters need to be borne in mind
- being able to move around town without having to use the car
- age friendly – for all ages
- more energy-efficiency, use of renewable energies (wind, water, willows)
- vibrant community
- cultural, sporting amenities
- amenities for visitors (hotel / hotels e.g.)
- Sustainable development, good-quality housing with amenities nearby.
- Options for all – including apartments / smaller units close to shops and other infrastructure for those with impaired mobility.
Areas for possible future housing development should be identified on the development plan.
Over to you!
We (the SCA) are encouraging all Skerries residents to have a look at the development plan consultation process. Fingal County Council have put all relevant information here. The public consultation drop-in sessions are over, but all documents are available online, and we are including a few here as well.
If you have any comments that you think we should include in our submission, please mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
We can all be part of the consultation process for the next Fingal Development Plan. Here is how!
See below for the on-line consultation process, and (especially useful) drop-in consultation sessions where Council staff will be available to discuss the current draft.
There are sessions in Balbriggan Library (15 March), Rush Library (4 April) and many other locations.
(from the Fingal County Council website:)
|Public Information drop-in Sessions for the Development Plan process take place as follows. Please feel free to drop in and go through the Development Plan maps and discuss the plan with Council staff.
|Draft Plan (Stage 2 Now Open)
Fingal County Council published the Draft County Development Plan 2017 -2023 on February 19th 2016 – this marks the start of Phase 2 of the Development Plan preparation process.
The Chief Executives Draft Development Plan was presented to the elected Members of the Council in December 2015 for their consideration. At a series of meetings in January and February of 2016, motions submitted by the Members were considered and the Draft Development Plan is now being published for members of the public to make submissions / observations. The public consultation period runs from February 19th to April 29th 2016.
The Fingal Draft Development Plan sets out the strategic spatial vision and future direction for the county over a six year period from 2017 to 2023. In developing this we will build on our previous successes and our strategic advantages as a county. The Fingal Draft Development Plan 2017 – 2023 has been prepared for public consultation and we encourage all citizens, communities, businesses and interested parties to actively participate in helping to shape the future of your County.
The Chief Executive will prepare a report on the submissions received during the public consultation phase and this will be considered by the elected Members at meetings in September and October 2016. We look forward to hearing from you and exploring your views on how the County should develop economically, socially and culturally over the years ahead.
Click here to view the plan or to make a submission:
Tuesday the 23rdFebruary, 2016, Skerries Harps GFC Clubhouse, Skerries
7 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.
The organisers, Fingal County Council;s Community Development Office, Fingal Volunteer Centre & local partners Mourne Community Centre and ourselves, the Skerries Community Association, hope that some 30 groups will be present on the day.
The groups will set up from 5.30 and have one hour for networking until the event is opened to the public with the official Launch by Mayor of Fingal – Cllr. David O’Connor at 7 p.m.
Apart from Skerries groups looking to recruit volunteers, there will be seven Countywide / National Organisations as well, such as Foróige, Jigsaw, and Bereaved by Suicide.
All those who think they might have anything between a couple of hours once-off and a few hours every day to spare should come to the Harps Clubhouse on that 23 Feb, from 7 to 8.30!
Any Skerries organisation who are looking for volunteers and are not yet on board should contact Valerie McAllorum-Byrne, Community Officer, Fingal County Council, ASAP. Her contact details are