Irish Men’s Sheds Rhododendron Clearing to feature on Nationwide
A 60 strong group of Men’s Sheds volunteers from all over Ireland travelled to Killarney last November to tackle the invasive rhododendron plant at Killarney National Park. They were ‘caught on camera’ by a team from RTE’s Nationwide, which will be broadcasting the story on Friday 19th January 2024 at 7 pm.
At Killarney National Park, which is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, they joined forces with their colleagues from Killarney Men’s Shed and the Killarney Meitheal Group for a concentrated attack on the plant, which is a serious threat to the native flora and fauna of Ireland.
The volunteers from Dublin, Kildare, Leitrim, Sligo, Down, Armagh, Laois, Meath, Waterford, Leitrim and Tyrone were warmly welcomed by local hotels and businesses in Killarney who provided accommodation, food and transport to and from the park itself.
On Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th November 23, under the guidance of the NPWS and working alongside the Killarney Meitheal Group, the volunteers employed the environmentally approved ‘snip and spray’ method to help curb rhododendron growth. Its toxic leaves and dense growth blocks sunlight from reaching the woodland floor which leads to the destruction of young native plants and animal habitats.
The original idea to invite the Men’s Shed to help clear the rhodo growth at Killarney National Park was the brainchild of owner Finbarr Kennelly and the Killarney Chamber of Commerce. It follows on from a very successful pilot phase pre-Covid and 2023 marks the first time the men have been back since then, with Kennelly Pharmacy sponsoring a dinner for the volunteers on the first night.
The IMSA’s charity partner Flogas supplied hi-vis jackets and goodie bags to the Men’s Shed volunteers and sponsored the dinner on the last night for everyone involved. Flogas also organised a special guest, Kerry-based Olympian rower Monika Dukarska, to take part in a very interesting and engaging post-dinner ‘fireside chat’ about her life and career to date with interviewer Jerry O’Sullivan of Radio Kerry.
Eva Beirne, the national volunteer co-ordinator for Men’s Shed, said, “We were delighted to be back at Killarney National Park and huge thanks to every person and every business who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this project the success that it was. It just wouldn’t have happened without all the local support we received.
Our volunteers had a wonderful time, there was great camaraderie and bonding doing this very important environmental work restoring native habitats. The message we would like to get out there to men of all ages who may be experiencing isolation or loneliness is that there is a place for every man in a Men’s Shed no matter your personal circumstances. The Men’s Shed is a place for men to feel included and make long-lasting friendships while engaging in a wide range of activities and projects. Finally, we’re thrilled to be part of this community driven project, and the Nationwide coverage will be a huge boost to our members!”
The Men’s Shed ‘Rhodo Clearing’ project was supported by Flogas, Kennelly Pharmacy, the Killarney Chamber of Commerce, the Arbutus Hotel, Castlerosse Hotel, International Hotel, Randles Hotel, Gleneagle Hotel, Great Southern Hotel, Killarney Park Hotel, Scotts Hotel, Dromhall Hotel, the Garden Restaurant at Muckross House and Kerry Coaches.