Men’s Sheds take on invasive rhododendron in Killarney
Dozens of men’s sheds members from across the island are descending upon Killarney National Park to tackle the scourge of invasive rhododendron. The initiative sees fifty men’s sheds members from fifteen sheds throughout Ireland travel to Killarney at the invitation of Killarney Chamber and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Originally introduced as ornamentation and hunting cover in the 18th century, rhododendron ponticum poses a serious threat to native flora and fauna in the 10,000-hectare park, including the Kerry slug, Killarney fern and Ireland’s only herd of native deer.
As part of an ongoing, multi-faceted initiative to manage the problem, men’s sheds members have been invited to the Park for a third successive year. The members, who hail from sheds as distant as North Belfast Men’s Shed, are being accommodated by some of Killarney’s most prominent and prestigious hotels as part of Killarney Chamber’s commitment to tackling the issue.
The members were welcomed to Killarney by a brace of mayors – Mayor of Kerry Cllr. Niall Kelleher and Mayor of Killarney, Cllr. Michael Gleeson. The two mayors were joined by local TD Brendan Griffin, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, at a welcoming dinner in Major Colgan’s restaurant.
Mayor Gleeson paid glowing tribute to the impact of men’s sheds on communities throughout Kerry and beyond; “Killarney is proud of its tradition as a place of welcome”, he said. “It is especially proud to welcome you, the people who by your lives and good deeds are the exemplars for a hopefully ever-better Ireland for all”.
After a comprehensive briefing on safety and environmental preservation from Park Ranger Tim Cahillane, members sallied forth on Monday morning to the Cloghereen/Blue Pool section of the Park, where they are helping to clear rhododendron from a walking route for the visually impaired.
Johnny McGuire of Killarney Chamber, a long-serving member of the Mountain Meitheal that tackles rhododendron in the Park all year round, said: “This is a highly visible, very prominent site. People will use this area and what the men’s shed group do this week will be of lasting future benefit”.
For his part, Barry Sheridan of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association expressed his members’ appreciation for the hospitality and support of Killarney Chamber and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“For us, this is a highlight of the year”, he said. “To be able to bring 50 of our members to this beautiful, majestic place is just fantastic. Our members have been stunned by the welcome they’ve got from Killarney Chamber, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the hoteliers of Killarney. It just goes to show how deep hospitality runs in the lifeblood of this town”.
The men’s sheds members will spend two days tackling the invasive shrub, punctuated by a social evening at Killarney Men’s Shed and lunches provided by Muckross House’s Garden Restaurant. The initiative is the brainchild of Killarney pharmacist Finbarr Kennelly of Kennelly’s Pharmacy.
For more information, please contact:
Irish Men’s Sheds Association
M: 087 962 1437
Notes for editors:
The hotels providing accommodation to men’s sheds members of the rhododendron project are the Randles Hotel; the Killarney Park Hotel; the Dromhall Hotel; Scotts Hotel; the International Hotel; the Gleneagle Hotel; the Brehon Hotel; the Lake Hotel; the Killarney Plaza Hotel and the Great Southern Hotel.
About the Irish Men’s Sheds Association
The Irish Men’s Shed Association (IMSA) is a member-based organisation which exists to maintain links and share information with the network of men’s shed in Ireland. The IMSA also act as a representative body to carry the message and ethos of men’s sheds onto the national stage.
As a grassroots organisation, the IMSA believes strongly in the autonomy of each individual shed, as strives for a future in which all men have the opportunity to maintain and improve their well-being on their own terms within their own communities.
The IMSA aims to make it as easy as possible for any like-minded group of men in Ireland to set up, run and maintain a Men’s Shed. To this end, the IMSA provides information, resources and support to member sheds throughout the 32 counties of Ireland; listening and responding to members’ concerns is a cornerstone of the IMSA’s ethos.