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.

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

Skerries Community Garden – Be part of it!

Would you like to grow your own food without the expense and commitment of an allotment?
Do you want to learn how to grow food and flowers with a community of other people?
Do you have time to spare and interested in becoming involved with a Community Food Garden?

WE HAVE THE ANSWER FOR YOU. Sustainable Skerries in association with Fingal County Council and Skerries Tidy Towns have permission to create food growing garden near Skerries Mills.
If you are interested in becoming part of this project, please email skerriescommunityfoodgarden@gmail.com before Saturday 13th February
Being part of a Community food garden will provide you with an opportunity to meet new people, become more active, have access to fresh produce and learn how easy it is to grow food.

Tomatoes

Tidy Towns: Local Skerries Winners 2015

What do Skerries Mills, Shoe Horn, Barbara Ryan of The Old Rectory, the residents of The Kybe and Wisteria all have in common? They were recipients at the recent Skerries Tidy Towns Awards Night! And they, as well as many, many others here in Skerries, contributed significantly to our very good results in the national Tidy Towns competition 2015.

Below is the list of awards, their sponsors and their winners.

Well done, everyone!

 

Area Judged

 

Sponsored By

 

Winner

 

Best Floral Display on a Business

 

 

The Progressive Credit Union

 

Skerries Mills

Accepting: Ray Hunt

Presenting: Sinead Morgan from the progressive credit union

 

 

Best Window Display

 

The Red Bank

 

Shoe Horn

Accepting: Marian Butterly, Debbie and Sandra

Presented by: Frances Owens

 

 

Best Presented House in the Town Centre

 

The Progressive Credit Union

 

The Old Rectory

Millars Lane, Holmpatrick.

Accepting: Barbara Ryan

Presented by: Sinead Morgan from the progressive credit union

 

 

Best Presented House in an Estate

 

 

 

 

Kelly & Co Auctioneers

 

 

34 Downside Heights

Accepting: Geraldine Palmer

Presented by: Frances Owens

 

 

Best Presented Estate

 

 

S.C.A. Skerries Community Association

 

The Kybe

Accepting: Caroline Dwyer and residents

Presented by : Brendan Sherlock

 

 

Best Signage on a Business

 

Skerries Tidy Towns

 

Piccolo, Thomas Hand St

Accepting: Giorgio

Presented by: Frances Owens

 

 

Best Presented Business

 

Tom and Denyze Joyce

Skerries Art School

 

Wisteria

Accepting: Camille Dennis

Presented by: The artist

Shane McInerney

 

Skerries Tidy Towns Committee look back on the last year

In the run-up to the SCA AGM on Fri, 11 September 2015, all committees are reviewing the past year. Here is what Maeve McGann wrote about the work of the Tidy Towns Committee:

Another busy year for Skerries and we are eagerly awaiting the 2015 results of the National Tidy Towns Competition. These will be announced on 28th September.  Watch out for Nationwide on RTE that evening and hopefully you will spot Skerries.

In 2014 having won the County Award and a Gold Medal in the competition, we closed the gap on the overall winners. We are now only 4 points behind last year’s winner Kilkenny. So it really is nail biting time now.

Tidy Towns Awards 2014 01

At the Skerries Tidy Towns Awards, December 2014

Community involvement is an important element in achieving marks in the national competition.  The bird and bat nesting boxes made by Foróige and placed in appropriate locations by our local BirdWatch Ireland group, together with the multiple green flags obtained by the local schools, and the Adopt-a-Beach scheme, count in a big way.  Well done and many thanks to all.

Patch 2015 (4)The fifth year of Adopt-a-Patch was re-launched in March 2015, and there are now 50 patches adopted. We do have a few more looking for volunteers to adopt them so if you think you can help contact us through Facebook or speak to any member of the committee.

Our work programme runs from the end of January early February until September each year. We have regular work parties on a Monday morning meeting at 9.30 am in our store on Quay St – new faces always welcome.

Many thanks to all our volunteers and for all the support the Committee receives from residents and businesses in Skerries.

Maeve McGann, for Skerries Tidy Towns.

Contact: tidytowns@skerriesca.com.

Tidy Towns ask: Join Cleaner Communities Competition!

Skerries Tidy Towns Committee write:

Entry forms are now available for the Fingal County Council “Cleaner Communities Competition”.
They can be downloaded from the Fingal County Council site, click on the link below or phone 018905453.
There are entries accepted from both Commercial and Residential.
Commercial includes: presentation of premises, Waste Management Initiatives, Energy Management Initiatives and Biodiversity.
Residential includes: best presented gardens, thatched cottages, estates, apartments, community centres.
There is also an award for Green Business: special effort to be environmentally friendly.
This is our own county competition and we as a town have lots to offer so please download a form and enter your residential area, house or business.

http://www.fingalcoco.ie/…/c…/community-clean-up-and-awards/

Bike Repair and Maintenance Course organised by two of our committees

Fix that bike! Want to learn how to fix punctures and brakes and lots of other practical stuff to keep your bike working safely and efficiently?
Two of the committees of Skerries Community Association have come together to bring you this course:
Sign up now for a free bike repair and maintenance course coming to Skerries in May. The course is open to Skerries residents over sixteen years old and is being organised by Skerries Cycling Initiative and Skerries Tidy Towns.
The course involves six sessions and will take place on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings (9am-12 noon) over a three week period starting on Tuesday 5 May and ending on  Wed 20 May.
Any questions? Contact Michael, Skerries Cycling Initiative, via  cycling@skerriesca.com
Sponsored by Fingal County Council under the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Grants scheme
bike in front of harbour

Launch of 2015 Skerries Adopt-A-Patch

Skerries Tidy Towns Committee, in association with Fingal County Council and Supervalu, re-launched “Adopt-a-Patch” at Skerries Mills last Tuesday (24 March 2015).

This successful scheme is now in its fifth season. New and continuing volunteers take charge of an open space, laneway or pedestrian area, and keep it clean and litter free. Fingal County-Council provide bags, and collect full bags from convenient points around the town. Our local Supervalu act as the depot for new bags, gloves etc.

Frances Owens and Breege Madden, the Tidy Towns “Adopt-a-Patch” coordinators, thanked all their volunteers. They added: “With your help, Skerries continues to achieve a high place in the national Tidy Towns competition.”

It was particularly good to see a strong contingent from Skerries Community College, who are ever increasing their involvement in the community. They regularly cooperate with SCA committees – Soundwaves, for instance, hugely benefited from a good number of Transition Year volunteers during their festival last September.  The SCC students have adopted a patch around the Community College.

 

Patch 2015 (1) Patch 2015 (2) Patch 2015 (3) Patch 2015 (4)

If you would like to join those who already have adopted an area, contact y member of Skerries Tidy Towns Committee, in particular Frances Owens (087 241 7017) or Breege Madden (087 770 0449).

  • Big areas can be divided between a number of volunteers.
  • The area can be cleaned at a time that suits you.
  • Gloves, bags and a picker will be provided.
  • Fingal County Council will collect bags from convenient points

Photographs: Brendan Sherlock, SCA.

Tidy Towns: Adopt-a-Patch

Skerries Tidy Towns (a committee of Skerries Community Association) invites you to the relaunch of their ‘Adopt-a-Patch’ scheme at Skerries Mills on Tuesday, 24th March between 2.30 and 4 p.m.

We hope our existing volunteers will continue the wonderful work they do in helping to keep Skerries litter free and welcome new volunteers to Adopt-a-Patch. Come along and check out the areas we hope individuals and families will adopt!

  • Big areas can be divided between a number of volunteers.
  • The area can be cleaned at a time that suits you.
  • Gloves, bags and a picker will be provided.
  • Fingal County Council will collect bags from convenient points

Could you spare an hour or two each week to keep a space clean and litter free? If you can, please come to our relaunch and register.

Contact any member of Skerries Tidy Towns Committee, in particular Frances Owens (087 241 7017) or Breege Madden (087 770 0449)

 

 

Submissions by our Committees re Town Park

There is considerable interest in Skerries in the redevelopment of Skerries Town Park, and rightly so. In addition to the direct submission made by Skerries Community Association to Fingal County Council, a number of our committees also made their thoughts known. Some of them can be accessed here on our website – see rough summaries and links below.

Active Transport

Skerries Cycling Initiative made a comprehensive submission to Fingal County Council regarding the Town Park redevelopment. In summary:

Skerries Cycling Initiative (SCI) welcomes this plan in principle. The proposed new entrances and paths have the potential to create better access to amenities in the park and more importantly, to provide links between the North, South, East and West of the town.
The Town Park serves many purposes and its redevelopment gives Skerries a unique opportunity. Our comments in this submission are directed towards improving the Town Park as an active travel hub as well as improving access to the many amenities -existing and planned- in the Town Park. As such our focus is on extending the capacity of the Park to provide safe routes of travel for persons walking and cycling, using wheelchairs and other mobility vehicles including cycles adapted for persons with disabilities. We want the end result of the redevelopment to be the creation of an inclusive, age friendly and attractive space. We wish also to point out that increasing numbers of battery powered mobility vehicles are in use around the town and it is important that the users of these vehicles are catered for through well designed pathways in the Park.

Click on the following link to open the full submission, which includes maps and tables, in a new window: SCI Submission Townpark Redevelopment

 

Community Food Garden

Adding a community food garden was at the heart of the submission made by our Sustainable Skerries Committee. They write:

Sustainable Skerries wishes to submit a proposal to Fingal County Council with respect to the Skerries Town Park development to allow an area for a Community garden in the plans.

Site specification: Good drainage Easy to secure 600 -1000m2

We believe that the ideal location for the community garden would be beside the Bowling green, where the shipping container is at present. This area has easy access for young and old people alike, and is somewhat secure.

You can read their submission in full here: Community Food Garden Proposal to FCC Sustainable Skerries

Skatepark

The Skerries Skatepark Committee, also part of the SCA, wrote:

As part of the new Town Park Development Plan we would like to see a skatepark included in the overall plans. It has been the vision of the committee to construct a skatepark that is sensitive to its surrounding from a visual and environmental viewpoint. … Ideally 700 m2 area would suit a skatepark, this give enough room for mixed ages and abilities to participate at the same time. As a comparison a football pitch is around 7,000 m2.

See the full submission here: Town Park Plan – skatepark

Skerries Tidy Towns  also had direct input to Fingal County Council in this regard; we will add their submissions as they become available to us.