Reaping a river’s rewards

St John’s River, Kilbarry Bog.

St John’s River, Kilbarry Bog.

A GROUP of proactive Waterford residents are aiming to improve the historic St John’s River and the areas which surround it.

Since the impressive new cycle path was officially opened last November, the area around St John’s River on the Tramore Road has become an increasingly popular recreational venue.

The Friends of St. John’s River committee is now striving to further improve the area so it can be enjoyed by all locals and visitors alike.

The committee was formed following a recent meeting in the area.

Brian Simpson, who lives in Kilcohan, believes the river has huge recreational potential.

“I usually walk along by the river every morning after doing the school drop-off,” he explained.

“I started noticing small things that could be done to improve the area. Rather than just complaining, a couple of us got together and decided to do something about the river.”

The group’s focus is on improving the river itself in order to enhance the opportunities for its use and enable the city to reap the rewards which the river can bring.

Their efforts include carrying out ongoing maintenance work such as clearing branches which have fallen into the river and removing rubbish.

All their work is carried out on low tide in dry weather.

Brian believes there is significant potential for improving the river.

“We’re aiming to organise bulb planting, litter clean-ups and tree planting along the river bank,” said Brian.

“We hope to bring local residents associations on board to help with litter clean ups and bulb planting,” he added.

The area is a haven for wildlife, with the widespread presence of otters, kingfishers, mallards, frogs, moorhens to name a few.

“We’ve been in touch with the Irish Wildlife Trust. If more newt pools were put in it might attract more wildlife back to the area,” said Brian.

The history of the area has also been explored, with assistance from Tommy Deegan.

“We hope to promote both the history and wildlife of the area in order to encourage more people to visit,” said Brian.

There is one area in particular which Brian believes presents huge potential.

“The main point of our work on the river is to open it up so there will be an extra option for kayakers,” he explained.

Brian believes there is a huge amount of interest in kayaking and says that the sheltered waters of the river ideally suit the activity.

“Hopefully it will be possible to go from Scotch Quay up to Sheep’s Bridge on the Tramore Road,” he said.

The committee is also encouraging schools and Scout groups to make use of the facilities.

Brian explained that inspiration for the committee’s work came from the recent ‘Waterford Gives A Shirt’ and ‘Save Waterford’ campaigns.

“We asked ourselves ‘what can we do for the city?’ We believe this is one small thing which we can do. Hopefully we will have given something for the present and future generations of the city to use and enjoy,” he said.

He praised Waterford City Council for their co-operation and assistance.

“We also plan to meet with river rescue organisations to help get improved facilities along river, as well as angling clubs about re-stocking the river,” explained Brian.

The committee members bring valuable experience to the work which is being undertaken as John-Paul Simpson is an experienced kayaker and John Devereux is a boat owner on Scotch Quay, while Brian himself has a background in horticulture.

He thanked Cllr John Hearne, Donal Barry, Heather Kiely and Jamie Malone for the support and assistance received, and is encouraging anyone interested in helping out to get in touch.

For further information contact Brian Simpson on 087-6601182.

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