Limerick parish to launch favour exchange

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

MURROE-BOHER is showing their “meitheal” to beat the recession.

MURROE-BOHER is showing their “meitheal” to beat the recession.

A novel concept called Murroe Shares aims to get the whole community working together.

Fr Simon Sleeman, chairman of Murroe Community Council, says in recessionary times “we need to go back to the meitheal”.

The Irish word convey the community spirit of neighbours helping each other, particularly when harvesting crops.

But in Murroe Shares everybody does favours for each other.

“A long time ago JP McManus was telling me repeatedly that we should have a barter system - to go back to the old way of exchanging goods. 

“He absolutely promotes the idea of exchanging goods and services. He is very much behind it,” said Fr Simon.

At one stage the committee looked at setting up a local currency called a Muro - Murroe Euro, but then the Glenstal monk heard about Clonakilty Favour Exchange.

“It is much simpler. For example, for every 15 minutes you do for somebody you get one favour. Say my mother wanted her gutters cleaned, she is too old to clean her gutters but she got a guy who is in the scheme to come in do it.

“Let’s say that took him an hour, she therefore owes four favours to the scheme, not to that person. My mother is 83 so you might ask how can she repay the favours? But she can sew, she gives gardening advice, she could mind a pet while somebody goes away on holidays. There are a huge range of ideas,” said Fr Simon. A website would be the one stop shop for everybody.

They even have one of the best know economists in the country, Dr Stephen Kinsella, on their committee.

Mr Kinsella says the basic idea of the favour exchange is to connect people rather than simply create value.

“It matters that neighbours get to know each other through an exchange of needed favours as much as the actual exchange itself. For example, I hate cutting my lawn. Really. If cutting the lawn was my bed, I’d sleep on the floor. But I love talking about economics, and other people hate economics.

“Someone cutting my lawn in exchange for an economics grind makes us both better off, and here the private market could be used - I pay person X some money for the lawn cutting, he pays me for the grind - but through the favour exchange we also get to know one another, and the community knits together as a result of the expansion of the favour exchange.

“It’s a good, proven system that will work in Murroe, I’m sure,” said Mr Kinsella.

The success of Murroe Shares depends on the number of people getting involved so Fr Simon invites all interested parties to email him on simon@glenstal.org

They hope to launch Murroe Shares before Christmas. There is a preliminary meeting in Crokers at 7.45pm on November 7. Contact Fr Simon for more information.