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Catherine Fogarty Reflects On Thurles Riverside Walk.

Picture courtesy T. Doyle, Thurles.

Speaking to Thurles.Info last evening, keen environmentalist, Ms Catherine Fogarty, has complimented the many volunteers, chief among them Una Griffin-Crowley, for their initiative in respect of the River Walk Amenity in Thurles. Ms Fogarty stated that “their actions are real rather than mere talk”.

Ms Fogarty correctly stated, “It is a sad fact that Thurles has severely neglected and abused the River Suir. The new addition of 12 Bird Boxes between Clongour and Thurles Town Park is indeed admirable and a welcomed sight”.

Ms Fogarty continued, “In my time with ‘Refresh Thurles, we developed the ‘SuirFest‘ event in 2019 and hoped it would grow into an annual Thurles event, celebrating that body of water, the River Suir.
Despite current Covid -19 restrictions, this of course can still happen into the future.

As regards the River Walk, it means different things to different people – some want an exercise option, in a relaxing outdoor environment – the presence of trees and wildlife enhances that experience”.

The absence of litter and anti social behaviour is essential to a positive experience.

Ms Fogarty continued, “The redevelopments at the former Erin foods site will bring some change as would future plans to construct a vehicular bridge at the Erin Foods site to cross the River and the construction of a road to link with the Mill Road.
This is some years away, but would change the environment considerably.
I would hope that our planning authorities would see the value in balancing the developer’s needs at the former Erin Foods site with the needs of the wider community.
The removal of the entire hedgerow at the river bank will mean a loss of biodiversity – we would lose a lot of bird habitats if this goes ahead.

Another current planning application seeks access to the lands to the south of the former Erin Foods site – this if allowed, it would see trees removed and the entire ambience of the space destroyed. I am referring to the pathway linking Clongour to the river.
It is good to know that the Council consider this as a critical artery route connecting to the River Path – protecting the existing tree canopy provided by this linear woodland is therefore essential.

I have proposed to the Council that the sliver of land on the Erin Foods Site south of the Roadway into the former Erin Foods site be planted with trees to effectively create a mini urban forest to supplement the value of the linear woodland. Thurles could lead the way in adding trees and habitats.

The installation of discharge points into the river in years gone by has left a legacy of damage, however the recent work in respect of 3 new discharge points seems to expose a most abusive mindset and demonstrates a minimal value placed on the riverbank as an amenity and a habitat.

There has been recent news of €120,000 funding for the River walk to be upgraded from The Willowsto Emmet Street“. This is welcome news but it is also puzzling as the funding was not listed on the breakdown of financing provided by the Council that detailed the €4.3 million in ‘Active Travel Funds’, allocated to County Tipperary, under the scheme for 2021.

The council confirms that the primary function of this section of walk/cycleway, from the Willows to Emmet Street, incorporating the pathway from Clongour to the river, is the provision of a safe walkway and cycling route for school children in the western side of the town.
Much hope had been pinned on an application to the Outdoor Rural Infrastructure Scheme, to bring the proposed Thurles River Loop walks, to a design stage; regrettably this was unsuccessful.

I now expect that the council will make another future application in respect of concluding a revamp of the route fromThe WillowstoTurtullaextending across “Ladies Well” to the “Mill Road”.
This area has so much potential with the provision of seating, interpretative signage, repairs to the river bank for safety reasons etc.
A previous report produced in circa 2000 by Anne O’Leary & Associates, had included a suggestion from Inland Fisheries, for the addition of sand on the bank of River Drish, to support Kingfisher nesting.
Alas, this delightful idea was not implemented and instead we have seen shocking levels of foliage/trees and hedgerow removed in the area between the River Drish and the Mill Road
.

If we are to achieve the important goals of World Earth Day, we need to realise that we must do better here in Thurles”, concluded Ms Fogarty.

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