Hard at work ...from left Paul O’Doherty, Eoin Rooney, Cllr Barry Sweeny, Liam Gillespie, Fr Dermot Burke, Ruth Cleary and Mary Duggan at the Abbey Bay, Ballyshannon last Saturday
Residents, anglers, kayakers, and other concerned citizens came together – while staying apart – along the northern shore of the Erne Estuary on a beautiful Saturday morning and afternoon to gather quite a bit of marine litter along this beautiful stretch of south Donegal.
It was part of the efforts to incorporate the physical or aesthetic improvements of an old to not only clean-up what is reputed to be Ireland's oldest town but part of the process of embracing a new wave of regeneration that is progressing through Ballyshannon these days.
Spring was in the air and like in many parts of the county, people are getting out for local walks, appreciating their local environment and getting the urge to tidy up and care for our local beauty spots.
Local resident Paul O’Doherty took the initiative to call out for a few residents and anglers to come along over the course of the day to take part.
“There was a good response, more people arrived than expected over the course of the day and everyone could observe the guidelines covering a large area. The end result was that a large amount of rubbish was removed from the shore and that’s great,” said Paul who is currently doing an online course in Fisheries Management.
“The course has a strong emphasis on maintaining and improving the coastal and angling environment so it is great to put it into practice in our community. We need to keep on top of it now.”
Local councillor, Barry Sweeny, was among the concerned citizens on Saturday morning.
“It is just great to get out and see others out getting into spring-clean mode. This area is a hidden gem and St Patrick’s well is a lovely spot for quiet reflection.
"The marine wildlife and bird life is abundant but sadly the waters and shore fall foul to marine litter, much of which travels a distance from our rivers and is carried in from sea and gathers here.
"The amount of small and micro-plastic is of particular concern to our marine life. We all need to be mindful of that. Locals will regularly care for the area and it’s great to do the big sweep today”
Those involved intend to keep on top of the litter situation and extend the coastal clean up and down the shore and a couple of local kayakers have pledged to keep an eye on areas difficult to access on foot.
Any individual or family bubble interested in doing a bit in their own time can call Paul with enquiries on (086) 2022738.
Along with Abbey Bay residents and Ballyshannon Anglers, a number of members of the Ballyshannon Regeneration Group (BRG) also took part and stated that they will be organising a number of clean-ups in various areas around Ballyshannon in the coming weeks and months.
Mary Duggan of the BRG said: “We have not been able to assemble in groups for a year now and therefore have not undertaken as many clean-ups as we would have liked to.
"The hope is now to safely coordinate volunteers to tackle some of the neglected areas”.
Councillor Sweeny, one of the founder members of the group, emphasised the importance of keeping our communities clean.
“These clean-ups mean a huge amount to our environment, communities and help build the spirits and a sense of pride in our place. It’s a key factor and we can all play our part.
"The presentation of our town is good for ourselves and also helps with first impressions of visitors who we hope to see returning soon. We will be depending on a good tourism boost when things open up again so it will b good to have our surroundings looking well for us all.
"There is a lot of discussion and action at present about regeneration of our towns and villages and keeping it clean is a really important ingredient in the bigger plans.”
The organisers of last Saturday's event would like to thank all who helped and to Mr.G’s, BMG Hardware, Cleary’s Garage, An Taisce and Donegal County Council for supplying items needed and to the council's litter unit for collection of the waste.
Keep an eye on Ballyshannon Regeneration Group Facebook page for plans over the coming weeks and get involved where you can, say the locals.
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