In an initiative organised by our partners Haven Pharmacy, dozens of men’s sheds members from throughout Ireland have descended upon Killarney National Park to help tackle the growth of invasive rhododendron ponticum.
The men’s sheds members were treated royally by the hoteliers, restaurateurs and people of Killarney. The venture had the full backing of Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and the National Parks & Wildlife Service.
The visit began on the evening of Sunday, November 5th, when representatives of sheds from Armagh, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Louth and Monaghan arrived in Killarney and were treated to dinner in Muckross Park Hotel, followed by a briefing from Finbarr Kennelly of Haven Pharmacy and Tim Cahillane of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The following morning, the men (and woman!) got their first taste of the task at hand. Rhododendron ponticum was introduced to Ireland as a form of hunting cover and decoration in the late 19th century. As an invasive, non-native species, the plants are toxic to Irish wildlife, but thrive in the country’s temperate, humid climate.
Despite its attractive purple flowers, rhododendron ponticum poses a serious danger to the 10,00-hectare habitat, starving native species of light and sustenance and obstructing access for pedestrians.
Over the course of the four-day visit, the men’s shed members cleared a magnificent 60 acres of the park – far beyond the original expectations of all concerned.
On behalf of all the men’s sheds members who travelled, the Irish Men’s Sheds Association would like to thank:
- The Malton, Killarney Park, Aghadoe Heights, Holiday Inn, Gleneagle, Dromhall, International, Tower, Lake, and Muckross Park hotels for their extraordinary generosity.
- The Muckross Park, Muckross House & Gardens and Laurels restaurants for hosting lunches and dinners.
- The National Parks and Wildlife Service and Killarney Mountain Meitheal who provided expert guidance.
- Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce for their incredible generosity and attention to detail.
- Finbarr Kennelly and all at Haven Pharmacy, locally and nationally, without whom the initiative would never have happened.
A special thank-you to all the men’s sheds members who attended, did such worthwhile work and gave such a favourable impression of the men’s sheds movement.