Have you seen Himalayan Balsam?

Himalayan Balsam is a pretty pink plant that was first introduced to Ireland as a garden plant, but it soon found its way out of gardens and into the countryside, where it has been spreading rapidly ever since.

In Fingal, its spread seems to be limited to two sites in Skerries, and the Skerries Tidy Towns group and Fingal County Council are keen to eradicate this invasive species.

The plant is an annual with scented, purplish-pink, slipper shaped flowers in June–August. When the large green seed pods are mature they explode when touched, scattering the seed far and wide to start new infestations next year. The seeds float and are spread further by water movements.

 

If you have seen Himalayan Balsam around Skerries when out and about, please let us know. To report Himalayan Balsam locations please email your sightings to biodiversity@fingal.ie

Please try to provide a map or a precise location with reference to the proximity of local features.

“En marche!” in the Canton of Guichen

“En marche!” is the name and slogan of the new political party of Emmanuel Macron who hopes to revitalise France.  Equally you could apply it to the group of Skerries walkers who have just spent an enjoyable week walking and hiking in the Canton of Guichen.  A 30-strong group of all ages and interests, intent on exploring the walkways and trails, were accompanied by five teenagers, who were able to sample secondary school life during their week-long stay.

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Online volunteering opportunity

SCA have prepared draft policy documents on:

The draft documents have been prepared by members of Skerries Community Association using online guidance from a number of government Departments and agencies but without input from persons with expertise in the areas involved. Before adopting them as official SCA policies the Board of Directors would like to have the documents reviewed by a person or persons with relevant expertise who could give constructive suggestions to improve the drafts.

​If you have expertise in any of the three areas and would like to review one or more of the documents please email: secretary@skerriesca.com indicating which document you would like to review. ​ This can then be forwarded to you in an editable format such as a Word document.

​SCA wishes to adopt the documents at their next AGM in September and would be happy to acknowledge the contribution of the reviewer(s) who contributes to improving the documents.

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Community Orchestra auditions

Soundwaves are looking for young people (post-Primary level) to join a Community Orchestra.  Open to all instruments except Piano. Minimum of Grade 2 instrument level is required.

Auditions will be held on Sunday, 18th June, at Keys & Strings School of Music, Skerries.  To book your audition time, call Jing at 087 2264357.

Backfilling of Milverton Quarry to Commence

Roadstone Limited has recently informed Skerries Community Association that extraction and backfilling operations at Milverton Quarry, which ceased operations in 2009, will commence around end April 2017.

Roadstone will import 1,900,000 tonnes of material into the quarry, at up to 400,000 tonnes per year. At their estimated average of 250,000 tonnes per year, this could mean 20-tonne trucks on our roads six days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m for more than seven years. Some rock extraction — some trucks also leaving the quarry full — will occur as well.

Should the SCA convene a public meeting where SCA members and, indeed, all Skerries residents would be able to share their views and to look for meaningful answers and action from Fingal County Council and Roadstone? Give us your views at traffic@skerriesca.com.

Aerial view of Milverton Quarry. Photography by Mark Broderick.ie.


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Age Friendly Skerries at 2017 Pride of Place competition launch

At the launch of Fingal County Council’s 2017 Pride of Place Competition, Nunce McAuley, Martin Russell and Brendan Sherlock representing Age Friendly Skerries accepted a certificate in recognition of the Skerries Age Friendly Town Initiative entry advancing to the 2016 finals.

Receiving certificate for representing Fingal in the 2016 Pride of Place finals

The event took place in The Atrium, County Hall, Swords on Tuesday, February 28th.  At the event, all three groups who represented Fingal in the 2016 Pride of Place Competition were recognised for their great achievements.

Raif Costigan of Fingal County Council was MC for the evening and introduced the Mayor of Fingal Darragh Butler, Tom Dowling of Pride of Place Ireland and Paul Reid CEO Fingal County Council ​who spoke and congratulated all three groups who represented Fingal in the 2016 finals at the Belfast Waterfront last November.

Next up came presentations to the three groups in recognition of participating and representing Fingal. All three groups were invited to say a few words as to their experience of having participated in Pride of Place 2016. Each group were photographed and then group shots were taken.

The Tower singers entertained and refreshments were much appreciated to round off a very enjoyable evening.

Many thanks to all who organised a very pleasant evening

Skerries CoderDojo AGM 2016

Minutes of Skerries CoderDojo AGM

29 September 2016, Skerries Community Centre (Old School)

Present:

Adam Barry, Barry Keegan, Garry Rogers, Gavin Killen, Jack Halpin, Karen Flannery, Máire Goldsmith, María A. Mañueco Ramos, Mat May, Myles Slevin, Paula Hickey, Sabine McKenna, Stephen Guildea, Thomas Lepel, Tony Graham.

Chairperson’s (“Champion’s”) Report

Sabine McKenna, current Chairperson (until June 2017 Replacement needed!), gave the following report:

Monthly CoderDojos (October 2015 to June 2016) continue to be in demand, particularly with beginners, although there is a bit of a fall-off in the advanced groups. Still, we barely find enough mentors to offer the spaces that there is demand for! Due to lack of availability of rooms in May & June, we did not accept any new coders after April.

We offered Scratch coding for beginners and intermediate; a small but hardcore html group; Minecraft Modding and then Unity (game design) for the oldest group. Over the last year, the Scratch Intro lead mentor had to leave, and the gap she left is felt; now, the Scratch Plus lead mentor has to end his involvement as well.

Very successful: Mentors encouraging children to present their projects to the group. Didn’t get to the next stage, where ninjas would present to the entire Dojo – we have started the process of obtaining projectors (follow-up needed with the Community Centre).

Within the Skerries Community Association, of which Skerries CoderDojo is a committee (as well as being part of the CoderDojo movement), we participated in the Chairs’ and Committee Meeting in June (Karen Flannery, Deirdre Kelly). This was very useful for forging new connections and for letting the other committees know what it is that we are doing.

We are also present on the SCA website and were included in the annual report; one of our mentors (Tony Graham) is a Director of the SCA

Membership: We have a Mailchimp email list for all parents (244 subscribers), including potentially interested ones; a Google Group for parents (66 members); and a Google Group for organisers / helpers / mentors (49 members).

Equipment: Over the last year, we bought four laptops which can be booked via the Eventbrite system. This is an important step towards inclusion, enabling families which do not have a laptop at home to attend, and also offers families with more children than laptops to sign up more than one child. We have also been successful in obtaining five Raspberry Pis from the CoderDojo foundation.

Mentors and Helpers: A number of new mentors and helpers joined us over the last 12 months, thank you to those who joined & those who continue to help out, CoderDojo would not exist without you! The Garda Vetting Process has been carried out for the first batch of mentors and helpers, and will be offered again in the near future. A good number of our mentors and helpers have attended Child Protection Training, either offered by the CoderDojo foundation or Skerries Community Association, and those who did so strongly recommended attendance to other mentors. Keep your eyes open for announcments of new

Scratch Training for new mentors was last offered in 2015, and should be offered again soon.

Outlook: We need a firm Lead Mentor for each group, who will themselves find a replacement if they cannot make it; a treasurer for Jan 2017, and a new champion for summer 2017 (or earlier, if someone has come to the decision to take this very rewarding job on now).

Treasurer’s Report

Summary 2016 to date (September 2016)

Income    
Tuck shop €510  
Donations €110  
Sponsorship €640 RazorSocial covering the rent
Total: €1260  
     
Expenses    
Rent Little Theatre €480  
Tuck Shop €181  
Bank charges €23  
Total expenses: €684  
Net income:   €576
     
Bank balance    
Opening Bank Balance Jan 2016 €732  
2016 income to date €576  
Closing bank balance sept 2016 €1308  
cash float held €60  
Total money held €1368  

 

Karen Flannery, our treasurer, presented the figures above.

Overall, income from the very popular Tuck Shop is strong, whereas donations have gone down, possibly because parents spend that bit extra on the Tuck Shop. It may, however, be a good idea to make parents more aware of the donations box.

The meeting thanked Karen for her wonderful services as treasurer, which she will continue to carry out until the end of the year; from January 2017, Máire Goldsmith will take over. Thank you, Máire!

Discussion & outcomes

  • A number of parents offered their services as new mentors and helpers.
  • There will be a New Mentor Training from 3 p.m. on Sun October 9 (i.e. directly preceding the next CoderDojo), based on the beginners’ handouts;
    scratch.mit.edu
    has a number of self-learning resources as well
  • Mat May will research cost for some peripherals to be connected to the Raspberry Pis.
  • Sabine will pursue the projector situation.
  • We need to be able to store things in the community centre, e.g. the four laptops, a couple of screens – Sabine to contact the Community Centre and ask about possibility of obtaining (or sharing) a locker.
  • Peer mentoring would be a positive step forward, Scratch Intro and Scratch Plus mentors to discuss how best to do this.
  • Garda Vetting and Child Protection Training to be offered again as soon as possible.
  • A strong lead mentor for Scratch Intro is needed.

Skerries – the overall winner of the 2016 Tidy Towns competition!

Skerries is a fantastic place to live in – and it’s now officially the top Tidy Town in Ireland! Well done to Skerries Tidy Towns Committee.

The winning team back in Skerries

Photograph by Ray Watts, Skerries

The chair of Skerries Community Association, Geoff McEvoy, said on the day:
“I know I speak for the whole board when I express how delighted we are for Ann, Maeve, Mary and the whole Tidy Towns team. An award like this is the product of years of hard work by the committee and an army of volunteers. Skerries is lucky to have them!”
Indeed.

For links to some of the major coverage of this fantastic news item, go to the very bottom of this post.

A lot of work has gone into making Skerries an ever-better place for us locals and visitors alike. It’s not just the weekly work parties… you can read about the work this very active committee is doing on their dedicated page here on our Skerries Community Association website (they are, after all, one of our many committees).

A considerable amount of research, planning, and reporting is involved as well.

The Tidy Towns Committee this year focused on the Winning Value of Water – this is a piece by Mary Conway (you can see her on the above picture, fourth from right) that significantly contributed to the win.

The value of Water

Skerries is a seaside town which lies approx 25 kilometres north of Dublin City. It has two beaches, a harbour and a restored windmill and watermill. It has a long association with the sea. In previous times the residents depended on fishing for a livelihood. In recent times the population of Skerries has increased five fold and now stands just short ten thousand people. Luckily there is a very good community spirit in the town and enthusiasm for conserving energy in general and especially water as you will see from some of the projects below.

Floraville Community Garden in the Town Centre.

The new Community Garden provided under auspices of the Chamber of Commerce. This garden was designed in strict accordance with the recommendations of the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study and other regulatory guidelines of Fingal County Council and the Department of Environment. This includes collection of rainwater falling onto all pavements and hard standing areas, its attenuation and ultimately its infiltration into the ground.
In addition, it was decided to implement a rainwater harvesting strategy and thereby minimise the amount of water that would be required from the public mains service. This was done by using a shallow underground 3000 litre F-Line rainwater harvesting tank and system so that this amount of water would be available for watering the garden. The system includes a state of the art automatic pumping system to provide the desired gardening water pressure while at the same time minimises power usage to operational periods only. The pump goes into hibernation mode at all other times. Water from this source is used by volunteers who maintain the flower planters around the town.

SKERRIES ALLOTTMENTS

From the outset the allotment holders wanted to be off-grid, i.e. not connected to mains electricity or water. There’s a stream running through the middle of the allotment fields from where we get our water. It’s pumped from this stream to
a 70,000 liter tank at the highest point of the scheme. From this tank, water troughs around the allotments are fed by gravity flow.
There are about 50 such troughs situated so that from any allotment you shouldn’t have to walk more that 10 meters to get water. 

Troughs were deliberately chosen as opposed to standpipes as it was felt that with standpipes, people might use hoses and be more wasteful of water. In addition to this many of the allotment holders have water butts and collect rainwater from shed roofs.

The Skerries allotments group held an open morning to encourage new people to become involved in the allotment community. They set up a sustainable watering system using the existing scheme with a solar pump which pumps water to a large container which is then gravity fed to troughs at various locations in the field.

As to quantities of water saved, I suppose of a hot summers day, an average allotment holder would use 30-40 liters of water on my allotment. There are about 250 allotments so, potentially, that could be 10,000 liters/day that would otherwise have come from the mains. Off course this depends on the weather, whether or not there’s a poly-tunnel, etc. Fingal County Council and the Fingal Leader Partnership did help financially to get started. Increased use of natural mulching and waterbutts in continuously encouraged.

COMMUNITY FOOD GARDEN

This year a site for the community garden has been secured and a Committee are looking at the ways of saving water and they are receiving the co-operation of the allotments group.
Already they have a 1000 litre tank to harness the rainwater from the roof of the wind/watermill. There is consideration being given to the idea of using the stream beside the watermill to draw water using a solar panel and then collect it in a tank. As this project progresses more consideration will be given to rainwater collection and the use of the stream.

Being a member of Skerries Tidy Towns for many years and involved in other community groups I was very impressed with the amount of planning this group has done in short while and have no doubt but it will be successful.

School Survey

A survey was carried out in the schools about the amount of water saved in homes.
Water/energy conservation publicity in Skerries News
The Tidy Towns Committee arrange with the local News publication to publish a number of abbreviated helpful hints on energy saving from Green homes covering waste reduction, water conservation, energy saving in the home, reducing carbon emissions and tips for recycling. A cartoon character called TiTo was commissioned specially to highlight these tips. Tidy Towns and Skerries Community Association Facebook and websites are used regularly.

Skerries is so lucky to be close to the sea as it provided much enjoyment for the residents. There is a sailing club, rowing club and a surf board group. These clubs provide much needed training for its members. Let us not forget the daily swimmers all year round. There is a safe swimming place on the head which has a area suitable for wheelchairs.

There is great awareness of the power and dangers of the water. A huge number of children are trained to a high level in general water safety every year.
Despite the high level of water sports enjoyed by the people of Skerries the sea took its toll on the fishing people. Last year Community got together and erected a memorial of all the fishermen and other sea users that lost their lives off Skerries.

Mary Conway
Skerries Tidy Towns

Skerries Tidy Towns Win In The News