Community with a passion for a labour of love
Monageer Grotto Group, with the help of many community members, have been very hard at work over the past few weeks turning their proposed sensory pathway into a reality.
Prior to this, many hours had been spent clearing the area for phase 1 of the proposed project; the laying of a pathway linking the shrine area and car park to the woodland walk in the grounds of the Monageer Parish Grotto and the works had already seen the area to be developed prepared and marked out.
This proved a time consuming, but ultimately a very rewarding operation.
At a recent award ceremony held in the Wexford County Council chambers Monageer Grotto Group won second place in the Access for All competition run by the local authority. In all there were 14 entries and for them to secure second place was a massive achievement. The prize money of €5,500 was secured specifically for the laying of the pathway.
Now, with the financial support secured from the Access Department of Wexford County Council, and with guidance under the stewardship of their access officer Caroline Horan, things really began to take off at great pace in the month of October.
The Monageer project, which involves a large degree of cooperation and help within the local community, is being championed by this newspaper as part of the national Get Involved competition.
The diggers recently moved on to site at the parish grotto and under the watchful eyes of locals Conaill Cooper and Keith Swaine the pathway was dug out. With the help of many volunteers the following weeks have seen stone spread and laying of the kerbings started. In the coming weeks it is envisaged that the remaining kerbs will be in place and further stone spread and rolled to a finish.
But there are plans for much more to be included.
The next phase of the project will see the building of raised flower beds and much recycled materials have already been secured to help in this process. The soil removed from the pathway, along with the compost produced from the onsite compost bins will be used to fill the beds in readiness of them being planted next spring.
The selecting and planting of shrubs, flowers and grasses add colour, smell and movement that will give the end user a lot more to enjoy. Sensory gardens are popular with and beneficial to both children and adults, especially those who have mobility issues or sensory processing issues, including autism and other disabilities.
Midway along the pathway the group will erect an oval seated area. The foundations have already been dug out and concrete poured in ready for the stonework that will be completed in a further phase of the planned project.
An exchange library, in a purpose built cabinet, will be installed near the seated area where people can pick a book to read on site or take away with them swapping a book of their own in exchange.
Children from the local school will use this facility as an outside class-room to learn more about nature and the environment by means of 'hands on' education. Other local groups including Foróige Youth Club, the Active Retirement Group and the Pastoral Group will also use the facilities on offer.
Up to about six months ago the parish grotto was mostly visited by the older members of the local community.
But since the completion the woodland walk and play area parents with small children have been using the facilities a lot more. One can now see many parents pushing buggies through the grounds and this new pathway with seated area and picnic benches will be a welcomed addition for them.
Get Involved is a sustainable community initiative and competition developed by two local newspaper associations - NNi Local and the RNPAI. Between them, these two associations represent 51 local newspapers with a combined readership of 1.65 million people across all 26 counties in the Republic.
Local newspapers, including the Wexford People, are getting involved to promote voluntary sustainability projects and to ensure that local communities all over Ireland become much more resilient to the many changes they face.
The projects will compete to be awarded for their work in the national competition. The overall prize fund is €12,000. Themes for the projects nationally include Energy. Water, Food, Nature/Biodiversity, Sustainable Employment, Ecotourism, Resource Efficiency, Community Impact. In addition, the Clann Credo sponsored Community Impact prize can encapsulate any of these themes.'