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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
Skerries Tidy Towns
Skerries Tidy Towns Win In The News