Columban missionary, Fr Seán McDonagh, has been honoured by An Taisce for his contribution to the organisation and in recognition of his past work as President of the charity which works to conserve Ireland’s natural environment and built heritage.
The non-governmental organisation is marking its 75th anniversary this year and as part of those celebrations it presented a specially created memento to “those who have been the backbone of the organisation and those who have given and still give freely of their time to help us in our mission”.
The ceremony took place in Tailors Hall in Dublin and it also also provided an opportunity to look back at events over the past year.
Responding to the news of his award, Fr Seán told Columbans.ie that he was delighted to be honoured by “the premier environmental organisation in Ireland”.
“I became president six years ago and as I was becoming president I said to them, ‘I’m a priest,’ knowing that some people would have a problem with that. They said it was not an issue and that I had a long history of promoting the environment. ‘We want you as our president.’ I was delighted.”
“I worked very hard with them on climate change, biodiversity and water and I continue to work with An Taisce because we are moving towards tipping points from which there will be no going back, and the next generation will have to pay for that.”
“We see what is happening right now in COP28 – they are more interested in selling oil and gas than they are in stopping the use of fossil fuels.”
“This is tragic for many people around the world as we already saw this year – it was the hottest year and we have had droughts … this is the future. We are now only 1.1 degree above pre-industrial levels – we are heading for 3-4 degrees. That is disastrous.”
“I became involved in this because I worked among the T’boli in the Philippines, and I began to see how logging was tearing the forests down. In Ireland we have 23 different varieties of trees – in the tropical forest in the Philippines there would be 120 or 130 varieties of trees in every hectare!”
“The issue of climate and the destruction of biodiversity is the moral issue of our time. We’re in a situation at the moment where we could lose 40% of all the living realities on the planet in this century.”