Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Western Ireland: Preserving Cultural Practices

Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Western Ireland: Preserving Cultural Practices

Sarah Seaberg

Seaberg IrelandThis photo was taken during a previous visit to Inishbofin for research with Sarah's advisor. It is representative of the landscape of the region, and show the ‘pristine’ nature of the environment there.

My paper investigated the development of sustainable environmental practices in Western Connemara, Co. Galway, through local engagement with the landscape as part of the culture of the region. The role of a ‘sustainable culture’ in this region is informed by the historical relationship with the land, in terms of both post-colonial interactions with the land and notions of past Celtic connections to nature. The relationship between residents and their landscape is analyzed using environmental literature, traditional ecological knowledge, and ethnographic interviews with local stakeholders, to determine how modern perceptions of Connemara culture incorporate the environment. 

Through analyzing the processes by which the environment has become a symbol of Connemara and its culture, I demonstrated that small-scale contemporary sustainable development benefits from an interdependent relationship with this local culture, and explained why rural sustainability is beneficial in the region and on a broader national level.