Earth Day at Virginia Park Lodge

While President Biden’s Earth Day summit on 22nd April was the highlight event on the international stage, the day also inspired myriad public contributions from businesses, organisations and individuals all over the world, including Ireland. We especially enjoyed this one from Richard Corrigan’s Co Cavan property, Virginia Park Lodge, because it sums up the optimism, energy, generosity and practicality of the man himself - the world needs more like that - and, importantly, his Top Ten Tips remind us of the simple things that we can all do to make a difference. 

The 22nd of April was Earth Day, a global initiative that aims to ‘diversify, educate, and activate the environmental movement worldwide’.

 Unfortunately, this event has become increasingly relevant over the years, and today it is more important to acknowledge and spread the word than ever before. But, let’s not get caught up catastrophising. Instead, let’s celebrate the little things that we do, and focus on what more we can do, to help tackle climate change.

Virginia Park Lodge was built on the concept of self-sufficiency. Geoffrey Thomas Taylour, 4th Marquess of Headfort and fourth occupant of the Lodge, was an avid and enthusiastic horticulturist. He had a particular penchant for planting trees, and fervour for exotic flora and fauna. Still today, the woodland surrounding the Lodge grows as a continuation of his legacy. Interspersed among the acres of native trees, you will find Japanese Maple, Giant Sequoia, and some rather spectacular Monkey Puzzles, to name a few.

Since purchasing the Lodge in 2014, Chef Richard Corrigan has worked tirelessly to ensure that sustainability remains at the forefront of what we do. In the past seven years, we have replaced and replenished hundreds of trees, including an acre of young orchard, which already bestows an abundance of fruit upon us every year. Trees are not only vital oxygenators, in turn, they help to clean the air of carbon, as well as providing a habitat for so many species of insects, birds and small mammals.

Alongside our replanting projects, Richard is particularly proud of our Gooseberry Gardens, which supply produce year-round to our own kitchen, as well as his London restaurants; Corrigan’s Mayfair, Daffodil Mulligan, and Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill. Having grown up on a farm in Co. Meath, Chef Corrigan is no stranger to living off the land, which is why all of our menus are dictated by the seasons. Food waste is fiercely forbidden, so we take care to use every stalk, leaf and claw going, with any natural by-products going straight into our compost, enriching the soil for the next season’s harvest.

Of course, none of this growth would be possible without the help of our beloved bees. We have two hives that are tended to by Amel, a 5th-generation beekeeper, who ensures each and every productive pollinator is happy and healthy. You can tip your hat to our fuzzy friends for every fruitful yield, as they spread pollen from field to field.

Now, we all understand the challenges involved in being sustainable, especially those in the hospitality industry. But, the important thing to remember is that there are always things you can do to help offset the effects of climate change, and little efforts make a huge difference when made collectively.

Ten Top Tips to Protect our Planet

1. Reduce food mileage – buying locally and seasonally as much as possible reduces carbon emissions and also supports small businesses.
2. Shop mindfully – plan your shops in advance to avoid food wastage and try to minimise plastic packaging by bringing your own reusable alternatives.
3. Reduce water waste – take shorter showers, turn the tap off while brushing your teeth, hang-dry your clothes – every drop makes a difference.
4. Recycle, recycle, recycle!
5. Use every last scrap – roast those cauliflower stalks, save your chicken bones for broth, put your potato peelings in the compost.
6. Grow your own – whether it’s a full-on veg patch in the garden, or a window box of herbs, growing your own helps to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging, and can give you a real sense of achievement at the same time.
7. On your bike (or your feet)! – avoid taking transport whenever you can, there’s no better action for your mind, body, or the planet.
8. Don’t let litter lie – whether you’re picking up that plastic bottle you saw on the side of the street, or organising a beach cleanup, just because it isn’t yours doesn’t mean you should leave it.
9. Count those kilowatts – most energy suppliers will offer a free electricity smart meter, and watching that bill add up is guaranteed to make you unplug.
10. Second-hand saviours – forget fast-fashion, buying second-hand can save the planet and save you pennies!


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