On Saturday the 20th of March, the residents of Thomond Gate launched their campaign seeking to develop a nature park in their community. The launch took place at The Milk Market and residents unveiled a large poster with a visualisation of what their riverside Nature Park could look like.
As chance would have it, the day before €74 million in funding was announced by Government, as part of an Urban Regeneration Fund to develop Limerick’s Waterfront!
The plot of land in question has been earmarked by the Council for a Housing Development. The residents of Thomond Gate argue that their community has been deprived of adequate Public Realm investment. They believe that more should be done to develop the derelict houses in the area, cleaning the rubbish and filth, removing metal barriers and providing better services to the community.
There is no doubt that the shortage of supply of Housing in Irish Cities has caused rent prices to skyrocket. Limerick Council tend to prefer to choose the easier option of demolishing old houses and constructing new builds on green spaces like this one.
There is a movement in Ireland to encourage Local Authorities to focus their efforts on restoring derelict Housing stock rather than building on green spaces. Thankfully Limerick Council have started to take on board restorations in their Housing Policy and these two historic Thomond Gate houses were recently brought back into use.
Furthermore, the OPW is working in conjunction with our Council to develop the King’s Island Flood Defences. Despite devastating floods in 2014, it has taken the Council 7 years and there are still no flood defences in place to protect Thomond Gates neighbours across the river. The OPW have invested €500,000 into researching natural ways of mitigating flooding. These natural measures involve creating more channels and space for the river to flow into, taking pressure away from residential areas and embankments.
The most compelling argument of all is the bio-diversity that still clings to existence on the Lower Shannon River. Unfortunately, significant damage has been done to Limerick’s bio-diversity, through poorly thought out developments over the years. Many species have been driven to the brink of extinction such as our wild salmon. Local resident Pat Murphy has taken photographs of the wildlife that have made this vacant lot in Thomond Gate their home.
The Council Executive hold ultimate power over the fate of this riverside plot, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot make a difference. In an effort to show solidarity with the residents of Thomond Gate I donated three trees from Re:Story, which we planted around the neighbourhood.