In the latest episode of Ours to Protect, Orla meets up with a local senior hurling club who are striving to become more environmentally friendly. They are championing change in the GAA towards climate action as they approached a local energy agency to work on their usage at their 14-acre site in Kilkenny city. 

Who are O’Loughlin Gaels? 

O’Loughlin Gaels GAA club was founded in 1969 and proudly represents St John’s Parish, Johnswell, Dunmore, and Kilkenny City East. The club has distinguished itself in the sports of Hurling, Camogie and Handball. They boast thriving juvenile sections for both boys and girls. They pride themselves on being a family-based, inclusive club. 

On October 30th, 2016 The O’Loughlin Gaels GAA Senior Team became the fourth such team from the Club to win the Kilkenny Senior Hurling County Championship, having previously won it in 2001, 2003, and 2010. 

How are they championing Climate Action? 

The club’s newly installed LED pitch-side lighting helps to reduce its carbon footprint. They are home to 35 teams: men, women, children and adults. Two years ago, the club decided to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Eddie Buckey, Chair of Adult Hurling at the club explains how the idea came about. 

“There weren’t lights here before. At the back of the pitch, some lighting fixtures are probably 20 years old that were very inefficient very costly to run, and not modern or fit for purpose.

“We are hyper-conscious about the idea of climate change now. We are experiencing it daily and weekly in terms of the readiness of our pitch for games. That is a very demanding process. We know as a community facility, we need to front and center to this.” 

This is why they approached South East Energy Agency about their energy costs. 

Who are South East Energy Agency? 

South East Energy Agency are a non-profit, independent energy agency working primarily in Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford. They support energy users in using energy more efficiently, monitoring energy use and towards a better choice of renewable energy sources. They identify energy saving opportunities, measure, monitor and verify energy use. They have expertise in the development of innovative approaches to designing, financing and commissioning of renewable and/or local energy generation.

How was funding secured for the energy upgrade? 

Project delivery energy with South East Energy Agency, Michael Kinsella: “We do all the hard work. There is a lot of documentation and form filling, we do all that. We do the checks throughout the whole process. We do quality assurance and that all the documentation is in order for it to reach the criteria required by SEAI.” 

The club received a Better Energy Community Grant provided by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) which the South East Energy Agency helped secure. 

It’s not the first time O’Loughlin Gaels worked with the Energy Agency. This is their third time working on energy upgrades within the club. They worked together on two other energy upgrade projects which included insulating the clubhouse and installing solar panels. 

How important was this latest upgrade, the LED lighting? 

Michael Kinsella said: “The old lighting system wasn’t fit for purpose. It was metal-halide lighting incandescent lighting. If I were to compare like for like, we have probably saved about 7,500kw hours per annum and almost 2 tonnes of carbon by doing what we have done here.

“Aswell as that we have moved the lux level. The original lux level of lighting was 200. We have gone to 360 lux. This enables a class 1 GA status so full matches can be played here at night time.” 

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