A historic amenity area in Killaloe has received a major facelift thanks to the work of a new group of volunteers.
Armed with a wide array of landscaping equipment, 17 volunteers completed a major clean up of Tobermurragh Well and the adjoining recreational area recently.
Tobermurragh near the Pier Head, is named after Brian Boru’s great grandson who was baptised at this well.
However, it is not a holy well and previously supplied the town with water before a piped water scheme came into operation.
At the end of the nineteenth century the well was enclosed by a red-brick building.
The concept of volunteers uniting to take on local projects has evolved out of the Covid-19 Community Response teams on both sides of the river.
Eddie O’Gorman, who used to work in McKeogh’s hardware shop and has his own hardware business for a period, who has collected a wide selection of landscaping equipment such as hand tools, strimmers, blowers and mowers from his time working in McKeogh’s hardware and in his own hardware business is the main organiser and driving force behind this initiative.
Mr O’Gorman completes the grass cutting on sports fields in Killaloe and Ballina.
After issuing an appeal on Facebook for volunteers to get involved in a community project, he got a huge response.
A number of other sites have been identified for a community clean up over the coming weeks.
The volunteers cleaned up walks in the area, cleaned out the well so that water is now flowing freely and made the walkway accessible for people using buggies and wheelchair users. Railings on the walkway were also repaired and safely re-installed.
The walking paths, which are regularly used by joggers, were widened by about six feet so people can now pass each other and maintain two metres social distance.
Debris was cleared off two large bricked area and grass was cut behind the Marian Shrine during the work, which took about two and a half hours to complete.
A few people who were out for a stroll also joined in the clean up.
The group also cleaned away grass and scrub from a seating area across the road from Tobermurragh.
It is hoped this group will come together once every few weeks to complete a local project.
Four women were involved in the clean-up and another three helped out with catering and providing refreshments.
Local businesses supported this initiative by providing coffee, scones, anti-bacterial soap and reusable face masks.
In the words of Eddie “any man woman or child who swing a shovel, can have one”.
“Tobermurragh is based in a little park on the way to the canal bank. It is of huge local historic value but was also a beautiful place when it was first done.
“It was a pleasure to see people doing work for the community and asking for nothing in return.
“Everyone worked so hard while they were there, the paths are wider, the bridges are clear and the well is emptied of rubbish and weeds. I am a passionate Killaoe man and I had no doubt people would respond to the appeal.
“People are already asking is there another project we can do. In about ten days, we will do another project to make Killaloe even prettier,” he said.
He urged people of Ballina and Killaloe to enjoy the amenity areas at Tobermurragh and the Kay River following recent clean ups.
Eddie and a group of volunteers also took away a lot of scrub and grass in another area near the Kay River where young people used to swim.
Eddie acknowledged these projects would not happen without community support and invited anyone who wishes to participate to contact him on his Facebook page.
Councillor Tony O’Brien, who participated in the clean up, described it as a “great community effort.
He recalled the area around Tobbermurragh was handed over to Killaloe Community Council, which is no longer in operation, back in 2004 following a lot of upgrading works completed by Clare County Council.
“The aim behind the work was to clean up the area and make it accessible for everyone including people with disabilities.
“It had become overgrown and derelict. We cleaned it up and cut back all the grass. It was a great job.
“Because of Covid-19 a lot of men and women find themselves working from home and they have more time to commit to projects like this.
“It was a very jovial event to be involved in. It would lift your spirits to be part of it. Everyone mucked in and did what had to be done,” he said.
He recalled one of the participants said it was great to make the area properly accessible as it would allow him to bring his son, who is wheelchair dependant, back to this amenity area.