Archive for November 1, 2020

Domestic Post

Posted in Biographical, Maynooth, Politics with tags , , , on November 1, 2020 by telescoper

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being.
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing.

Those lines from Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley came to my mind this morning not only because it’s blowing a gale outside but also because it is just after Halloween Samhain which was a noisy night because of all the fireworks, but at least I wasn’t disturbed by trick-or-treaters. I guess none of them made it past the barbed wire and electric fence…

Anyway, being confined to quarters for the day has allowed me to catch up on some domestic matters, including dealing with my first ever demand for payment of Local Property Tax (LPT) which arrived on Friday: before I bought my own home, my landlord paid the LPT on the flat I was living in. Coincidentally, along with the bill for the Local Property Tax came a letter from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) confirming that they had changed my address on their records. I told them two months ago.

The Local Property Tax plays a similar role in Ireland to that of the Council Tax in the United Kingdom, and is also based on some notional estimate of the value of your home, but it’s quite a lot lower than in the UK. Although my house in Maynooth is worth considerably more than my Pontcanna residence the property tax is less than a third here than it is in Cardiff. You might think that’s a good thing, but the consequence is that there is a much poorer provision of local services here. In fact Local Government as a whole is a much lesser thing here than it is on the other side of the Irish Sea. Although there are elections to the local councils (in my case Kildare County Council) as there are in the UK, the ability of the councils to do anything useful is very limited.

One particular aspect of this is that householders in Ireland have to arrange their own refuse collection via a private company; in Cardiff the refuse collection service was provided by the Council. When I took over the house I asked the previous owner about refuse collections and, since I had no experience of any of the companies listed as offering this service, I simply carried on with the company she had used.

And so it came to pass that my weekly refuse and recycling collection is carried out by Bord na Móna (literally “The Turf Board”), a company set up in 1946 to supply peat as a form of fuel. Although you can still buy peat around these parts to burn on the fire, it is a very dirty fuel and harvesting it causes damage to the peat bogs in the Irish Midlands that provide a unique habitat for wildlife and plants of various kinds. Bord na Móna has therefore been diversifying into more sustainable lines of business with the intention of withdrawing entirely from peat production in the next decade or so. Among these new activities are renewable energy generation and recycling, the latter being relevant to this post.

The refuse collection, carried out through a subsidiary called AES, is quite a sophisticated operation. I have four wheelie bins (one for recycling, one for organic & food waste, one for glass, and one for general waste). Each of these bins is microchipped and the amount of general waste collected recorded at each collection. I am of frugal habits and don’t usually produce very much waste, especially general waste, though I have had a number of things delivered to the house since I moved in which always requires disposal of a considerable amount of packaging. Happily they also send a free SMS reminder of what bin to put out when.

Anyway to return to the opening theme of this post, I’ve discovered a “feature” of my new house. Being situated at the end of a row of similar properties with a wall to one side to mark the end of the row, it seems that leaves which have been blown along the road collect in great heaps on the path leading to my front door. I have to go out quite regularly with a shovel to clear them away. At present I put them in the organic refuse bin, but I’m thinking of getting a compost bin for the garden. It seems I am becoming quite domesticated in my old age.

Postscript: no sooner did I finish this post than all the power went off in the house.

Postscript to the postscript. It came on again after about 2½ hours in my area, but as I write it is still off in parts of Maynooth.