On Tuesday 7th March, the Garage Theatre in Monaghan hosted the premier of a new short film about peatlands, carbon and climate staring John Sharpson, well known as Múinteoir John from the RTE schools’ hub. Magic under Monaghan is a short film for young people, but with a universal reach, exploring links between our peatlands and wetlands heritage, and climate change action. Filmed on Sliabh Beagh, Monaghan’s only expanse of blanket bog habitat, it demonstrates both the beauty of the area and the crucial role peatlands play for our planetary health.
The creation and production of Magic Under Monaghan has been funded through Monaghan’s Creative Ireland programme and was led by the Heritage Office in the council.
The production team at Macalla was spearhead by talented producer Sharon Newman. Magic Under Monaghan is energetically presented by John Sharpson, well-known as TV school’s hub Múinteoir John, soon to be better known as a bog buddie, with his two animated friends Pete and Fen.
Cllr. Sean Conlon, Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council who attended and spoke at the launch explained “how by preserving and restoring peatlands, nature can help keep stores of greenhouse gases in the peat, and the mosses can continue to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. With EU funding, Monaghan County Council has started restoration work and has put in well over a thousand peat dams to block drains in the blanket bog on Sliabh Beagh over the last few years.”
The Chief Executive of Monaghan County Council, Patricia Monahan, noted the wetland advocacy work done through the Heritage Office over several years and noted that, “Over a decade ago, the Heritage Office examined the ecosystem benefits deriving from six types of wetlands in the county, and at that stage the carbon store in Slaibh Beagh was estimated to be worth €50million. This was a conservative figure at the time. One can only imagine how much more this would be now, using the sophisticated methods for assessment currently available.”
Ms. Monahan also referred to the new climate action team that is being created in the council and the recruitment of a Biodiversity Officer which is underway at present.
The chair of the County Monaghan Heritage Forum, Cllr. Aoife McCooey noted how the forum had been anticipating the launch of the film, having been privy to an early cut at a forum meeting. She made the point that “as a teacher myself, I know how important climate and biodiversity action issues are for young people. But I’m also very aware that these issues are not of their making and that it’s the organisations like Monaghan County Council who must lead the way in ensuring sustainable decisions are made for all generations.”
Cllr. McCooey thanked the continued partnership between Monaghan County Council and the Heritage Council, which enables best practice and technical expertise to be widely shared across the country.
John Sharpson, presenter and Sharon Newman, producer attended the launch and stayed to speak with attendees afterwards. John spoke about how much he enjoyed filming on Sliabh Beagh and getting into the many characters he plays in Magic Under Monaghan, and the learning curve about peatlands and climate he found himself on. He hoped that the film would be shown widely and resonate with audiences.
The Heritage Officer, with Monaghan County Council, Shirley Clerkin complimented the production team on the quality of the film and John for his energetic, and charismatic performance. “Magic Under Monaghan is irreverent and informative, educational and entertaining. It’s set here but is widely applicable to anywhere with bogs and fens. It is crucial that we restore peatlands to ensure that they continue to store carbon, and that their carbon sequestration function can work effectively. Peatland restoration one of the nature-based solutions for the climate crisis”.
The Monaghan County Council Heritage Office will be distributing the film to schools, and to any group who wishes to show it in their venue over the next few weeks.
WATCH HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru5YBcifvDQ
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