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Members of Kilfenora Tidy Towns committee accompanied by Parish Priest, Fr Ned Crosby, Clare County Council’s Rural and Community Development Officer Niamh Wiley, local councillors Joe Killeen and Joe Garrihy following the opening of the newly developed Biodiversity Trail at St. Fachtna’s Well. Photography by Eugene McCafferty

Clare community launches biodiversity trail

SAINT FACHTNA’S holy well in Kilfenora is at the centre of a new biodiversity trail created to promote and showcase the area’s rich natural heritage.

The trail, which was officially launched last week, has become a busy focal point for young and old, and is credited with bringing local people together to celebrate their history and heritage.

Thanks to a successful funding application on the part of the Development Group, the Tidy Towns committee has been able to lead on the creation of the trail.

“Kilfenora Tidy Towns group is very much a team effort and everyone contributes,” explained Donegal native Dena McGrath, who has made the North Clare village her home over the last two years.

“The main umbrella group who has allowed us to access the funding is the Kilfenora Development Group, who themselves are newly established.

“Niamh Wiley our North Clare Rural Development Officer has been a huge support to us in accessing funding and submitting our first ever Tidy Towns competition entry.

“Councillors Joe Garrihy and Joe Killeen have also supported the group through their own funding streams and were there for the opening.

“The local Rural Social Scheme (RSS) and Michael Ambrose have always looked after this area and have worked with the Tidy Towns group to help make the biodiversity trail a reality.”

Expertise on developing the amenity has come from the diverse membership of the group, which includes a member from Sweden and one from the Netherlands.

Lieke Schonemann of Lieke’s Natural Way consulted on and designed the trail.

“Her passion and knowledge of biodiversity is amazing,” Dena said.

The Tidy Towns group, which has been revitalised after several years also has a strong social element.

“Being a part of the Kilfenora Tidy Towns team has been a wonderful way to get to meet people and get to know the area first-hand,” Dena said.

“The young school kids have been instrumental in helping us litter pick, tidy up old flower beds and planting, indeed just two weeks ago, the primary school and kindergarten school planted 500 spring bulbs. The well is an area for them to visit, explore and relax along with the locals and visitors.”

St Fachtna’s Well is located beside the revitalised Burren Centre and Kilfenora Cathedral, amenities that are treasured even more than after the long months of lockdown.

In its hinterland, the biodiversity trail now includes four miniature habitats, a place for solitary bees to nest and a butterfly garden.

The Woodland Habitat consists of trees and shrubs, while the Rockland Habitat has a space for culinary herbs, as well as locations for insects and even small birds to live.

The Grassland Habitat has been created by leaving the edge of the Biodiversity Trail to grow wild, much to the delight of creatures like butterflies, spiders, small mammals and amphibians.

The Wetland Habitat is an idea place for frogs, toads and newts, while the bee nesting site will facilitate many of Ireland’s 62 species of solitary bee.

The Butterfly Garden contains native and ornamental plants and brings colour for pollinators and visitors alike. More information on the biodiversity trail is available from the Kilfenora Tidy Towns on Facebook.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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