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Blog Post 17 March 2021

Working to reduce carbon emissions in Northern Ireland on St Patrick’s Day

On 17 March, homes across Ireland will be celebrating a somewhat subdued St Patrick’s Day, as Covid-19 restrictions remain in place across the country. Let us hope that this time next year we’ll be able to ‘drown the shamrock’ with family and friends, while this year we’ll have to make do with a somewhat smaller celebration in the comfort of our own homes.

For those who haven’t heard the expression, ‘drowning the shamrock’ signifies a typically Irish way of celebrating Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, by having a few drinks. These scenes will be familiar to many around the world, from Dublin to London, Glasgow and even Chicago and New York, where celebrations on 17 March often feature a trip to the pub.

However, if we put aside some of the more modern cultural manifestations associated with Ireland’s patron saint, we can learn much about Saint Patrick. And what better way to celebrate the ‘apostle of Ireland’ than by shining a light on our work to reduce carbon emissions in Northern Ireland.

Saint Patrick and his shamrock

One of the most surprising facts about Ireland’s patron saint is that Patrick was, in fact, not an Irishman, but was Welsh. He was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland where he remained a slave for six years, before escaping and returning to Britain. Several years later, he returned to Ireland of his own free will, as a missionary landing at the town of Donaghadee in County Down.

Donaghadee Parish Church is believed to have been a place of worship since the time of the Druids, who were Celtic religions leaders dating back to the fourth century BC. The future patron saint of Ireland arrived some centuries later, in the fifth century AD, when a stone church was erected known as the Church of “Dofnachti”. He later became the first bishop of County Armagh and remained in Ireland until his death on 17 March, a date now known as St Patrick’s Day.

During his time in Ireland, Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock as a metaphor to teach the Irish people about the Holy Trinity. The shamrock analogy is still useful today, and one that we can use to highlight Energy Saving Trust’s mission in Northern Ireland.

Energy Saving Trust in Northern Ireland

The three leaves of Saint Patrick’s shamrock represent our Northern Ireland colleagues’ approach to delivering Energy Saving Trust’s mission.

  1. We are privileged to work with colleagues in England, Scotland and Wales to collectively empower people to make better energy choices through delivering transformative programmes.
  2. We create shared value by supporting local businesses and communities to make our environment a better place, while tackling carbon emissions, through our involvement in the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP).
  3. We create real impact through improving people’s wellbeing by reducing carbon emissions and creating energy efficient homes.

On behalf of the Utility Regulator, we are the Programme Administrator of the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP), an £8 million fund used to support energy efficiency schemes across Northern Ireland. Most of the funding is used to help vulnerable people in Northern Ireland, by helping householders install new energy efficient heating systems, cavity wall insulation and loft insulation, among others energy saving measures.

In 2019/20, work carried out through the programme accounted for the installation of 5,934 energy efficiency measures in the very towns, villages, and hills where Saint Patrick once roamed. So, even though the 17 March might be a little different this year, there’s still reason to ‘drown the shamrock’ and celebrate St Patrick’s Day.