Killea - putting biodiversity at the heart of landscape plans

Most of us will have heard the word ‘Biodiversity’ used in some context or another. Not many of us, however, are fully clear about what it actually means, in practice.

Most of us will have heard the word ‘Biodiversity’ used in some context or another. Not many of us, however, are fully clear about what it actually means, in practice.

All that changed in Killea on Sunday May 12th, when Killea Cultural Group launched their Village Enhancement/Landscape Plans, which were completed by the Cork based Landscape Architect Noranne Scott. Noranne has been working with the community since last summer to devise a comprehensive set of plans for the village, covering everything from street lighting, to areas for specific planting (with particular emphasis on the acess corners to Killea), to detailed plans for the development of a wildflower and sculpture Garden (Castle House Parklands) for the village. North Tipperary Leader Partnership funded Noranne Scott’s work, which was presented to a full hall of locals on Sunday last.

Opening the event Denise Meagher, Chair of KCG welcomed Rev. Fr Eugene Everard; Rev Fr. Walton; Ian McGrigor from Kerry Earth Education Project and Trisha Purcell, Project Officer from NTLP who were attending. Marion Carey, Heritage Officer with NTCC had sent her apologies for not being able to attend due to being on sick leave. Denise explained that over the past few months the KCG and associated Committees had worked closely with Noranne to devise the plans that were about to be presented and that these plans were the basis of six further applications to NTLP for funding. ‘We have a lot to thank North Tipperary Leader Partnership for in Killea’ said Denise ‘they have funded our annual Féile, which will again take place on the June Bank Holiday weekend this year; the instrument bank that has helped create the dynamic Comhaltas branch we now have in the village; our web site (www.killeatipp.ie); our Development Plan; Noranne’s work and after Christmas we got approval to have Biodiversity training for the community. We have worked extremely hard in the past three months to get six more applications organised so we can implement these impressive landscape plans. Hopefully we can get these applications over the line and funded before the end of the year and before this round of LEADER funding is completed’ she said. She thanked her colleagues (Joan Egan, Josephine Coffey and Mick Duff), and thanked also The Tidy Towns Committee, (Agnes Coonan, Laurie Kavanagh, and Samantha Mc Elligott) for their hard work. Also involved in getting the applications in place were the Killea Hill Walking Committee, Gerard Coffey; Therese Ryan and Liz Burke and Castle House Parklands Committee, in particular Seosamh Devine. The Graveyard Committee also have a application pending a decision, and thanks are due to them for their dedicated work for the historic St. James’ graveyard, in getting the necessary documentation together to make the application for a new wall around the proposed extension, in particular to John Fogarty.

Everyone listened attentively to Noranne Scott’s presentation which was visually very impressive, with images and drawings of the proposed works, mentioned above. Agnes Coonan followed that up by thanking all the volunteers who helped Tidy Towns win the Best Endeavour Award last year in the National Tidy Towns Competition. She asked for anyone who might want to take on an area of the village, to help maintain, for example the area around the grotto or the old pump, to advise the Committee of same. The more volunteers they have the more they can achieve for Killea.  

Next to take the floor was Ian McGrigor who will deliver the first two of his Biodiversity workshops in Killea on June 15th and June 16th & July 6th and 7th. In inviting Ian to talk, Denise Meagher said that ‘many of us will have heard the word biodiversity, but many of us will also be unclear as to what it actually means in practice. I hope you can explain Ian?’ It became clear to those present that Ian McGrigor is very passionate about what he does. ‘Biodiversity - or biological diversity - is the term given to describe the variety of all life on earth’ he explained. ‘It includes the habitats and ecosystems which support this life and how life-forms interact with each other and the rest of the environment. It includes wildlife, plants and domesticated crops and animals. We are all linked in what is known as the ‘web of life’. This ‘web of life’ is often very complex, but it is possible to identify different groups of animals or plants that have something in common and can be associated together into groups known as ‘ecological communities’ or ‘ecosystems’. Choices that communities like Killea make, as you start to implement plans like we have seen this evening, will impact on your natural environment and all living things around you, into the future. In my worshops I will help you to identify the local habitats so that the planting choices you make, among other things, will fit and integrate with the wonderful natural enviroment you have in Killea. This will make themed walking very interesting because people will have this knowledge. My help will also ensure places like the Castle House Parklands can de developed to have educational, as well as recretional value for everyone.”

In response to Ian’s explanation Denise Meagher commented that it was really important that the Killea community were starting out on the right footing, by putting biodiversity awareness at the heart of their plans. ‘These workshops will also be of great value to the school in helping the children from Killea to understand and be aware of their natural environment’.

Trisha Purcell then spoke and congratulated all those involved on the excellence of the work presented. She commented that it was an incredible amount to have been achieved in such a short period of time and that it would pay off in the future. The event was followed by a cheese and wine reception where the conversation continued with a buzz of conviviality and anticipation that all the hard work would eventually bear fruit, for the people of Killea.

(Killea Cultural Group again want to thank all those who support their work. They wish to thank Ian Cheshire for his help with producing their newsletter and with IT requirments for presentations. In their on-going efforts to fund raise they would like to ask people to please ‘buy a brick’ to help with efforts to complete the beautiful new Heritage & Community Center, which will be officially opened on September 6th this year (the person to open the building is yet to be named). If anyone would like to purchase their brick, they can contact Joan Egan, Treasurer (086-101 8058), Park, Killea, Templemore or Josephine Coffey, Secretary (086-835 8407) Kilduff, Killea, Templemore or forward a payment of 50 Euro to either, specifying the name you want on the plaque that will be dedicated to all those who supported the building project. Josephine Coffey Secretary will forward a receipt to acknowledge payment and to ensure the proper name is listed for the plaque.)