Taking a 56 km stretch of the River Suir, Tipperary County Council set about engaging with communities along the river through a series of projects whose aim was to connect people to the river, network the communities along the river and increase usage of the river.
Community participation and stakeholder engagement was the foundation of all of our projects and an important legacy of the Green & Blue futures is the positive working relationship that has been established among the stakeholders and communities along the river that will last into the future.
Our Mapping Access Points project consulted widely with all river users to identify and map access and egress points along the river. The results of this project allowed us to see where the river was being accessed and where improvements could be made to enhance or improve access. This data enhanced the Canoe/Kayak Audit and provided the basis for the proposed canoe trail between Cahir and Carrick on Suir. It also allowed us to apply for capital funding to begin our programme of improvements to the access points. The potential canoe trail also links in with the development of the Towpath between Clonmel and Carrick on Suir. These three actions will see the development of the River Suir as a recreation hub and carries huge potential in terms of potential for small enterprise along the river.
Our Sounding Lines art project was a community art project with artists Maree Hensey and Claire Halpin and it aimed at engaging with the river in a different way through the medium of sound. Once again community participation was to the fore and the artists worked with groups across the generations from young to old through a series of workshops and culminated in a Multi Media Art Trail along a section of the Towpath. The project was recorded through a blog kept by the artists. Our Youth Connect project also sought to engage youths with the River in a positive way through the Clonmel Youth Diversion Project through the medium of kayaking, fly fishing, photography, nature studies and stone working. Our River Tidy Towns network tapped into the existing Tidy Town Volunteer movement in Ireland and linked 3 villages along the river that shared information and experiences before completing projects in their own areas. These projects included traditional craft elements as well as biodiversity and access and interpretation of the river. Our Multimedia project linked in with local festival group and third level institution in relation to promoting the river.
We also worked with local festivals in towns on the river to raise the profile of the river and encourage people to engage with it.
We feel that the projects have contributed to a sense of community along the river and that actions taken have created the potential for the development of business and social enterprise along the river. Other actions that supported this was our International Conference in 2013, ‘Developing the Socio-economic potential of Waterways’.