The River Derry Bubbles Project is a pilot project initiated in Tinahely and developed by Sarah Rubalcava of Rubalcava Heritage Services. It is firmly rooted in the ‘catchments’ concept, a term coming from the EU Water Framework Directive. A catchment has been described as “a community related by water” or an area drained by a particular river and its tributaries or an area surrounded by streams, rivers and lakes.
Sarah, to date has organised and led a variety of events and has just completed a programme of outreach days with Kilcommon National School. The River Derry Bubbles Project explores the various roles of water and rivers in our daily lives, water conservation & pollution, local heritage, wildlife along the river, and invasive species (e.g Himalayan Balsam), and finally how a river can link communities. Sarah hopes to expand the project and allow The Bubbles journey down the river passing on important messages as they head towards the Slaney and beyond. For the new school year (2019-2020), other schools in the River Derry Catchment have agreed to jump on board and explore how they fit into their local catchment areas.
Its Aims (not exhaustive):
- To raise awareness of the river, its flora & fauna and its catchment area
- To raise awareness of the EU Water Framework Directive
- To create and strengthen links between the river and the local community by facilitating a range of walk, talks, workshops etc
- To provide ways of learning about the benefits and threats facing local rivers and lakes starting with the River Derry
- To initiate and support individuals in creating nature diaries with the help of an artist recording various events/sightings of flora/fauna
- To facilitate a greater awareness of the water abstraction and waste water treatment occurring in locality.
With the help of a Wicklow County Council Local Agenda 21 Grant, topped up by funds from Tinahely Community Projects, 3rd and 4th Class students of Kilcommon National School in Tinahely have been led on a journey by The Bubbles. They have learnt about the Derry River and catchment area. Working closely with Sarah, is Maeve Hunter, Artist Educator who has guided the kids with the development of a River Derry Bubbles diary, making a World Water’s Day card, and an up-cycled, water themed t-shirt. These are some of the things that formed part of the exhibition in Tinahely Library June-July 2019. A visit to the school by Mary Ryan of Kerry Foods, Shillelagh, helped the students see our food linked with the river.
As part of Ireland’s commitment to the Water Framework Directive (WFD), and the current implementation plans (2016-2021), 2nd cycle, community engagement is strongly encouraged and supported by the authorities. The Derry River based on the ‘catchment’ concept of the WFD firmly places Tinahely within the larger Slaney Catchment. Community engagement like the River Derry Bubbles Project raises awareness of our streams and rivers, fostering positive actions and behavioural change. These in turn are proven to improve water quality both inland and further downstream benefitting communities and natural environments.