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Networking Communities on the River Suir

Partner Action Number & Description

WP1 Action 3
Networking Communities on the River Suir

Description / Nature of Pilot

The aim of our project was to develop the river communities network and to capacity build community groups along the river. To develop recreational potential and to encourage business development. To restore a sense of place through art and encourage people to look at the river in a new way. To raise awareness through events and to use multi media to enhance this. To develop youth training projects .Finally to incorporate and use traditional skills where possible

  • Mapping Access Points Project
  • Canoe/Kayak Audit
  • River Suir Tidy Towns Network
  • Sounding Lines Art Project
  • Tow path
  • Youth Connect
  • Multi Media project
  • Social Economy

Pilot Framework / Timescale


Funding / Budget

Green & Blue Futures €220,000

Technical or Engineering Assessments / Issues

Through consultation with the various groups and communities who access and use the river as a resource or amenity it was identified that there was a real need for improved access and egress infrastructure at various points along the river.

An engineering and cost feasibility study was carried out in December 2013 to assess the suitability of the towpath for the construction a walking and cycling Greenway and an estimate cost of same. Following acceptance and adoption that the project was feasible work progressed to acquire Part 8 Planning for the project. This work required an engineer design and drawings for the proposed Greenway including an Appropriate Assessment Screening Report. Part 8 planning permission was acquired in December 2014.

Pilot Outputs / Outcomes

Outputs: Mapping Access points: 80 people included in consultation. 41 Access points identified, 12 locations identified for improvements including 4 priority points to enhance the potential for canoe trail.

Canoe Audit: Trail assessment carried out by Canoeing Ireland and National Trails Organisation receives positive endorsement. Ongoing networking with groups and individuals in relation to the development of recreational activity and potential for associated enterprises.

River Tidy Town Network: 15 volunteers from Tidy Towns group, shared expertise and visited each others sites. 5 Community and Employment scheme participants doing willow work and stone working, 1 local stonemason.

Art Project: 2 Artists and 5 groups from the communities on the River, including schools and a day care centre as well as 2 boat clubs and others. Total participation 182 people. Project blog viewed 1,683 times and QR code produced. 150 members of the public in attendance at final exhibition which was a Multi Media Art Trail along 2.5 km of the Tow path.

Towpath: Final stretch taken in charge in 2014 and the 23 km was publically accessible in its entirety for the first time since the early 1990’s.
River Suir Youth Access project: 45 hard to reach youths took part in training in fly fishing, kayaking, photography and stone carving as well as participating in Naturewalks with Birdwatch Ireland and a visit to the River Rescue Centre which is staffed by Volunteers.13 of the 17 who participated in the kayaking gained Level 1 certification.  Steering committee set up with regional bodies to develop a fishing hub for youth training in Tipperary.

Multi media: Steering group in place with local third level institution and local festival group

Events included Mid term Conference: ‘Developing the socio economic potential of waterways’, October 2013, 130 attendants over 2 days from local and national and international groups and voluntary sector

Funky bike parade with local theatre group and cycling club with a River Theme

Social Economy Seminar- November 2013 about developing social enterprise in Tipperary

River Festival in Carrick on Suir- connecting people with the river

Constraints / Requirements

Towpath: Not all of the 23km was publically accessible, Roads section of South Tipperary County Council worked to resolve this.

Pilot Stakeholders


Róisín O Grady: Project Manager July 2013 on (Labhaoise McKenna 2012- July 2013)
Alan Walsh: Mapping Access points
Valerie Connolly: Canoe and Kayak Audit
Melanie Scott: Art project
Marie Phelan: Tidy Towns network
Kathleen Prendergast: Multi media/Social Economy
Ann Ryan: River Suir Youth Access
Paddy Crotty: Towpath


Tidy Towns, FAS, L.I.T, Junction Festival, Cycling Club, River Rescue, Canoe Club, Workmans Boat Club, Fisherman, Water Safety Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Suircan, local historians, public representatives, boat builders, community activists, Local Authority staff, Waterford and South Tipperary Community Youth Service

Recommended Design Delivery

Tipperary County Council

Pilot Delivery Strategy

Stakeholder meetings/Community Engagement
International Conference
Group networking and knowledge sharing
Community Employment schemes
Youth experience training
Local Volunteer groups

Risks & Opportunities (additional to Green & Blue Futures outputs)


Reconnecting people to the River Suir
Linking communities along the River
Sharing of expertise among communities and stakeholders
Developing partnerships with Tipperary County Council and community groups
Encouraging people to take ownership of the river
Creating an environment for enterprise along the river
As the overall project has progressed it was felt that improvements in access to the river at strategic locations would encourage greater involvement by communities and special interest groups thus promoting the river and encouraging greater participation by the social economy in the maintenance and management of the regional asset, the River Suir.


Disconnection of groups/ failure for communities to see the broader picture
Breakdown of networks
Lack of volunteers
Failure to provide improvements in access to the river at key locations

Future Cost Implications / Maintenance Requirements

Mapping Access Points/Canoe Audit:

12 access points identified for improvement works, 2 completed to date
Canoe trail assessment has taken place
Talks ongoing with groups and individuals in relation to canoe hire enterprise, tours, trails, camping etc.


Work due to start on Greenway in 2015
Maintenance going forward will be lead by Tipperary County Council

Tidy Town Network

Volunteers on Tidy Towns committees in Pilot towns will maintain their sites which will hopefully enhance their scores in the Tidy Town national competition. They will also be able to advise other interested tidy towns groups.
 Collaboration with FAS should be able to continue on other projects.

Art Project

Critique is being carried out Multi Media Trail and Art project as a whole from the point of view of the Artists

Multimedia project

Work ongoing with local third level college and local festival group.

Youth Access Project

Steering committee in place to develop youth fishing hub in Tipperary