Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Saturday, 28 March 2009

Greening of Little Belfast

Cloughjordan's main street
Cloughjordan only has one street

It has been called Little Belfast, but a village on the border of Tipperary and Offaly is becoming better known for its green approach to life than its northern counterpart.

BBC Dublin correspondent Shane Harrison visited Cloughjordan, which is very much a one street village.

Having two Protestant churches used to see the village known as Little Belfast, but it is now becoming better known for dissent from energy-burning orthodoxy.

It is a village in decline, but it is hoped that plans for an eco-village will revive it.

There are 130 green timber-frame houses and apartments under construction just off the main street, with the average site price about 85,000 euros.

Some will be detached, others semi-detached and some of the apartments will have work spaces below, with construction hopefully finished by the end of the year.

Iva Pocock, one of the soon-to be residents, believed the well-insulated houses would be very environmentally-friendly.

"They're all south-facing to avail of the Sun, the free energy from the Sun," she said.

Iva Pocock
Iva Pocock said the houses would be environmentally friendly

"And they're also plugged into our community district heating system that is supplying hot water generated from solar panels and from wood chip boilers."

The scheme is also about a new lifestyle.

There will be a new community centre - part of a 50-acre site, that also includes plans for trees, playgrounds for children and an organic farm.

Some people have already started to work on their garden allotments, growing fertiliser-free vegetables.

Although Cloughjordan is a stop on the Dublin to Limerick rail line, Iva said the plan was not to create a commuter town, but to encourage enterprise and to have as many people as possible working locally using modern technology.

According to her there will be high-speed broadband to facilitate people who want to work from the village.

"We also have commercial units available and we have an eco-enterprise centre that we received significant funding for," she said.

And that's all fine with the existing community and shop owners such as Peter Murphy, who are looking forward to having new residents.

"Originally we were a bit sceptical because of all the talk and delays and we didn't see any action," he said.

"Now we're beginning to see an impact because the building has started. And hopefully we'll have tourism and builders and local people living here over the next few years."

Work on the project is ongoing and not all the sites are sold yet but it's hoped there will be at least 260 new residents in the eco-village in the very near future.

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