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Connacht Tribune

Community joins forces to tackle invasive plant species

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A community in Connemara has declared war on weed. Letterfrack Tidy Towns Committee has joined forces with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to rid Connemara National Park of invasive plant species.

Three invasive species have been discovered within the national park, including Lesser Knotweed (Persicaria campanulata), Giant Rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria) and Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum). They are also present in Letterfrack village nearby.

“Each of these poses its own particular challenge and requires a specific plan of action to control, manage and, where possible and practicable, eradicate,” said Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

A plan has been developed by NPWS and Letterfrack Tidy Towns to eradicate Lesser Knotweed in the village and national park.  Minister Humphreys said this species is “not considered a major threat”, and due to the small area involved, “costs will be minimal and total eradication is expected”.

A small number of Giant Rhubarb plants has been discovered within the national park and in the adjacent village. The Tidy Towns committee has included it in its plan to eradicate invasive species.

Minister Humphrey’s said, “it is expected that the costs involved will be low, being limited mainly to the cost of the herbicides used.”

She said that the threat posed by Rhododendron is far greater a risk in the park, and if it’s not treated it can have implications including replacing native plants.

“Rhododendron occurs in important habitats in Connemara National Park such as oak woodlands, bogs and heath, and is considered a problematic invasive species,” she said.

“My Department carries out an annual targeted programme of works to manage the spread of Rhododendron in the park. The extent of the problem varies from area to area within the park and, having regard to the very dynamic nature of this invasive species, the targeted management programme is routinely monitored and adjusted with a view to ensuring optimum efficacy.

If left unchecked, this invasive species can grow in dense thickets and replace native shrub, exclude native vegetation, and constrain native woodland regeneration. The management programme has made significant inroads into the problem and large areas of previously infested areas are now clear of the plant.”

Minister Humphreys said some €13,000 has been spent since 2012 on Rhododendron clearance in Connemara National Park.

She said that the ultimate plan is to eradicate Rhododendron ponticum from all national parks – the annual Rhododendron management programme is intended to create conditions in the Park that are conducive to the protection and re-establishment of native species and, particularly, our native woodlands.

Minister Humphreys praised the local community for their efforts in helping to eradicate invasive species.

“My Department is committed to continuing this important and challenging work into the future. I would like to recognise the important contribution of volunteer groups to this work, and also to acknowledge the excellent work of my Department’s staff in Connemara National Park who, along with their colleagues in National Parks around the country, have been instrumental in developing new methods to increase the effectiveness of our efforts to control this plant and other invasive species,” she added.

She was responding to a parliamentary question submitted by Galway West TD, Noel Grealish.

Connacht Tribune

Locals in fundraising drive to protect some of Connemara’s finest beauty spots

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The world-famous beaches Gurteen Bay and Dogs Bay will disappear unless work is carried out immediately to save them for the next generation.
A local conservation committee has been set up which is fundraising to carry out the work in September. They plan to remove the old fencing from the headland, which is dangerous for people and animals.
They will also want to install new fencing on the headland to keep animals off the sand dunes and to have clear access pathways to people to enjoy the dunes without causing them damage.
Sustainable chestnut fencing is then needed to re-establish the sand dunes and to save them from further collapse.
Finally the hope to replant marram grass to further stabalise the dunes.
Kieran Mullen, owner of the Gurteen Bay caravan and camping park, explained that the work was so urgent that they cannot wait another year to carry it out.
“Atlantic storms are becoming more frequent and powerful. If they find a weakness in the dunes a one metre gap is created. The next storm that widens to two and three metres and soon they’re gone forever,” he remarked.
“I know people might say I’m doing this because they’re part of my livelihood but these beaches are key to the bigger economy of Connemara. Everyone’s tied into tourism here – the shops, the builders. It only takes one influencer to post a picture on Instagram and the next week the place is packed.”
His father Pat, along with James Conneely and Joe Rafferty, undertook extensive projects such as planting marram grass, erecting fencing and stone gabions along one section of Dogs Bay beach back in the 1990s. They managed to protect and regenerate part of a highly degraded dune system.
“If it wasn’t for the huge amount of work they did back then, the beaches wouldn’t be here today. There was an Italian electrical company who came in and took away 50 tonnes of sand and my father stopped them at the gate and made them drop it off.
“They filmed Into The West here and the film donated some money to the beach and that’s how they paid for a lot of the work.”
The committee is meeting with planners to secure an exemption on planning for the work.
“Time is not on our side so that’s why we’ve gone ahead to raise the money and hope to get it done in September when the place is quieter.”
Both beaches, located outside Roundstone, regularly make the list of top 100 beaches of the world by travel guides.

To make a donation, visit GoFundMe page.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway passengers are all smiles at Shannon!

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Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport

The smiles on the faces at Shannon Airport very much told its own story this week – with passengers taking to skies as the easing of restrictions and the first day of the European Digital COVID Certificates took effect.

And it wasn’t just the joy of travel starting to resume that lifted spirits at the airport but also the announcement by Ryanair of a new once-weekly service to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) to commence on August 7 – the third new service announcement for Shannon Airport over recent weeks.

There was a real sense of excitement as passengers of all ages became very much at ease with the heightened public safety measures in a ‘back-to-the-future’ day for the West of Ireland gateway airport.

There were reunions as inbound flights arrived but also a palpable degree of anticipation as others got set to depart on the earliest flight out of the airport today, the 7:10am flight to Gatwick.

Among those boarding was Clarenbridge native Claire Tomlin and her husband Jake, together with their three children, including their twins who turn a year old next week.

“It’s been amazing to get back. The kids saw their grandparents for the first time and their cousins and aunties and uncles, so it was fantastic,” said Claire.

“Shannon is just so convenient for us because it’s only about 40 minutes’ drive. So, it just makes everything a lot easier in terms of getting to and from places with little ones. So, yeah, Shannon is a great resource for us. Really, really good. We hope to be able to go back more and more.”

It was smiles all around for Shannon Airport staff as they got back to doing what they do best. “Well, today is a great day because you can see the atmosphere around the place, people are at ease here and they’re glad to be back, they’re glad to get up in the sky again,” said Shannon Duty Free Sales Associate Helen Quinlivan.

“It’s great to see the excitement. People are really looking forward to going back and seeing their loved ones and they’re very at ease.”

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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A man lies on a bed of nails at the opening of Galway Shopping Centre, Headford Road, on October 26, 1972

1921

Silence is golden

Leaders on both sides have stated that the best assistance the country can give in the making of peace is to keep silence.

During the past week there has been a great deal of speculation, most of it harmless enough, as, for instance, the enterprising American journalist’s “exclusive” on the first meeting of the British Premier and the President of the Irish Republic; much of it positively mischievous, as the case of the efforts of a certain journal, which has grown hoary in the reputation for throwing in the apple of discord, to anticipate failure in advance.

Our American colleague was on surer and on safer ground when he told of how de Valera and Lloyd George met.

“Mr. Lloyd George,” he cabled, “was sitting at his desk when the Irish President entered. For just a minute these two gazed fixedly at one another. Then the British Premier walked across the intervening space and shook de Valera by the hand. He led him to a seat where they sat side by side. The atmosphere was tense. They faced one another. Then Lloyd George reached down for a box of cigars. But the Irish President is of Spartan mould. He neither permits himself to drink nor smoke. He politely but firmly waved the box away. Mr. Lloyd George, however, selected and lighted a Havana, and as the smoke curled upwards the atmosphere became decidedly easier!”

Good planning

The wise and practical man always lays by a store against the time when supplies will be scarce. One of the most serious effects of the prolonged drought is the scarcity of supplies of fodder for cattle-feeding during the coming winter and spring.

The hay crop is not more than half the average yield. The corn crop is far below normal. Turnips in many districts are a partial failure. We have frequently emphasised the importance of growing catch-crops to supplement other feeding stuffs raised on the farm, but it is only under circumstances such as the present that their utility is brought home to farmers. Owing to the early harvest, a larger area than is usual can and should be put down this season. This would make good, to some extent, at least, the shortage of hay and other feeding-stuffs.

The demonstration plots laid down by the County Committee of Agriculture have shown that catch-crops, such as vetches and rye as well as other mixtures, can be successfully grown in all parts of County Galway.

We would urge on farmers the desirability – nay, the necessity – of procuring seed and making early preparation for the sowing of an increased area of catch-crops this season.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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