River Suir

We've teamed up with the Local Authority Waters Programmeto bring you a range of arts and biodiversity workshops and events

Clonmel Junction Arts Festival bringing people closer to nature and the River Suir!

The arts are a great way for us to appreciate and engage more in our environment. So this year in line with the theme of the Junction Festival “Boatmen of the River Suir”, the River Suir and all of the biodiversity that it supports has been brought centre stage. As the curtains come up on this year’s innovative festival, events have been lined up for children and adults to learn more about the River Suir and appreciate what makes the Suir Blueway stand out from others across the country.

It is the nature along the river banks and that in the river that makes it so special. The Suir is long known to produce some of Ireland’s finest and largest Atlantic salmon – in fact the largest salmon ever caught on a fishing rod weighing in at 56lb, was caught on the River Suir, on a fly fashioned from a feather plucked from a lady’s hat!.

Anyone who walks or kayaks along the Blueway will have experienced its beautiful and special wildlife. From otters to kingfishers, the River Suir has it all. It is a regular occurrence to see the blue flash of a kingfisher as this elusive and exotic looking bird flies at lightening speed down the river. The gregarious sandmartins flying around the Gas house bridge is a common sight at this time of the year.

At night, birds of a different kind can be seen – well not birds exactly but bats – specifically bats called Daubenton’s Bats which are one of Ireland’s largest and most unique members of our wildlife. Sometimes referred to as “the water bat” they swoop down, flying in a figure of eight formation catching insects as they emerge from the river. They are easy to be see from the old Quay wall when you look out towards the river where it is lit up by the lights at night. All of these wonders are celebrated at this year’s Junction Festival – with an underwater film of the river from Lady Blessington’s Weir to the Gas House bridge, a bug safari and a nature detective exercise. There are artistic instillations along the Blueway, celebrating the wildlife along the Suir viewed through the lens of artists working with the Festival. The aim is to inspire people as the use the Blueway to connect with nature and reclaim the association that we humans have the river and the wildlife around it. We have after all co-evolved with our natural environment around us but in more recent decades become more and more detached as technology has advanced and our lives become too busy to stop. We hope that people can take sock, notice and appreciate nature all around us and especially along the river.

Clonmel Junction Arts Festival has teamed up with the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) and local community environmentalists to showcase the fantastic natural wonders here in Clonmel along the River Suir. The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) is working with the Junction Festival to bring the river to life through the arts. A key objective of LAWPRO is to work with the public, Tipperary County Council and other Local Authorities and other state agencies across the country to protect and conserve the River Suir and indeed all of the other waterbodies across the countryside and urban areas. Good water quality supports healthy communities and that includes the wildlife that bring so much joy to our daily lives. Modern science shows us that spending time in nature reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and improves our physical and mental wellbeing. This has been particularly apparent during this new Covid 19 normal and has sparked a renewed appreciation in nature.

However recent declines in water quality as recorded by the Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) Water Quality means that we need to more vigilant and careful on how we manage our day to day activities that can impact on water quality and river habitats such as those supported by the Suir. We are after all interconnected with nature and have it within our capacity to protect and cherish it if we want to.

The following video shows us how water quality is checked by the Local Authority Water Programme: Kick-sampling video

There are plenty of ways that people can get involved and according to Southern Regional Coordinator Dr. Fran Igoe of LAWPRO, “anyone can get involved. The main thing is that we put the river first when we are conducting any activity that might harm it, and there are plenty of tips on what can be done available through our website. People can also get involved in policy by participating in public consultation on water quality issues and currently there is an open consultation ongoing to identify the Significant Water Management Issues for Ireland. This will inform the planning of the next water quality roadmap for Ireland, known as the River Basin Management Plan. Also LAWPRO are working directly in a number of water bodies (known as Priority Areas for Action) in the Suir catchment, with a focused programme based on science and community partnership to address water quality issues identified by the EPA. If people would like more information, please contact LAWPRO at www.lawaters.ie and for water quality maps and information checkout www.catchments.ie.

Citizen Science

LAWPRO are also working with South Tipperary Development Company to promote projects that protect and enhance water quality and biodiversity and currently there is an open LEADER call for projects for the Environment Theme. Additionally there is ongoing community led invasive species mapping and control work being undertaken in partnership with Suircan. The LAWPRO office can be contacted by Email info@lawaters.ie or phone 0761 06 6230