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Pres. M.D. Higgins Warmly Welcomed To Cabragh Wetlands

A large crowd turned out on Saturday evening last, May 19th 2018, in Cabragh Wetlands Thurles, to welcome two visiting guests; the President of Ireland, Mr Michael D. Higgins and his wife, Ireland’s First Lady, Mrs Sabina Higgins. President Higgins was visiting to officially open the Trust’s new and recently erected Visitor Centre, situated on the property.

The President and his wife was formally welcomed by Mr Tom Grace (Wetlands Trust Chairperson); Mr Michael Long; Independent TD Deputy Mr Michael Lowry, and Fianna Fáil TD Deputy Mr Jackie Cahill.

The building was officially blessed by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, His Grace Kieran O’Reilly, [(SMA) Society of African Missions].

Addressing the assembled gathering President Higgins spoke of global changes seeming overwhelming. “We are now witnessing the most negative manifestations of human influence: the catastrophic effects of climate change produced by the emission of greenhouse gases and changes in land-use, such as the drainage of bogs and wetlands; the alteration of the phosphorus, sulphur, and as we know so well in Ireland, the nitrogen cycles, each one an ecological process vital to life on our planet; disruptions to the terrestrial water cycle, so vital to rain-fed agriculture in a pastoral economy such as our own; and of course, most tragically, the onset of the sixth great mass extinction event in the history of our planet, in which so much biodiversity has already been lost.”

Yet, despite global changes he pointed out that the Wetlands Trust project here in Thurles, was born at a challenging time for the then workforce in Thurles and the beet farming producers of Tipperary when, in 1989, Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann decided to close the sugar factory, which had been “such a fixture of the economic life of the area since 1934”.

Praising the challenges faced and dealt with by the organisation, the President concluded, “This Visitor Centre is a fitting testament to your efforts over the many years. It comes in the midst of our planetary emergency, and is more urgently required than ever before, for it provides us with hope for a better, more socially just and ecologically sustainable future.

May I then pay tribute once again to all those who brought this vision into being, in particular the Chairman of the Trust, Tom Grace, and wish you all the very best in the future”.

The President and his wife were later taken on an educational tour of this very fine local facility.

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