Preparations for Monageer's sensory pathway under way

By dAVID TUCKER

Published 15/09/2015 | 00:00

Above: Loading clippings; left: Mary Nolan busy planting; bottom of page: Foroige Youth Club members getting stuck in.
Above: Loading clippings; left: Mary Nolan busy planting; bottom of page: Foroige Youth Club members getting stuck in.
Above: Loading clippings; left: Mary Nolan busy planting; bottom of page: Foroige Youth Club members getting stuck in.
Above: Loading clippings; left: Mary Nolan busy planting; bottom of page: Foroige Youth Club members getting stuck in.

Monageer Grotto Group's plans to create a sensory pathway linking the shrine area and car park to the newly-opened woodland walk continues at great pace with recycling and preparations for it getting top priority.

The area to be developed, 75 metres by nine metres has been marked off as has the central area that will incorporate an oval stonework seating area.

Work to cut back the ditches and overhanging trees along the length of the pathway has begun with some of the off cuttings shredded to be used later in the project as compost.

Monageer Grotto Group, with help from Cliona Connolly of the Environment Section of Wexford County Council, held a Compost Training Day for different groups in the grotto.

And under the guidance of Betty Kehoe a four-bay composting structure was built, three bays for turning and producing the compost and one bay to hold the leaves that are in abundance all around the grounds of the grotto.

It is from these compost bins that the local group hope to be able to supply most of the compost to be used in both the flower beds and the raised beds of their project.

The children from Monageer Foróige Youth Club help out during the year by turning over, emptying and refilling the compost bins.

The Monageer Grotto Group's project is being championed by the Wexford People in the 2015 Get Involved competition, a community initiative aimed at helping build a more sustainable Ireland.

Get Involved is sponsored by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Clann Credo social investment fund, and the Monageer project will see the creation of a meandering sensory walk linking the Grotto car park to the woodland walk.

The group recognise that one of the big challenges they face and one that could carry a large cost is the planting of flowers and shrubs throughout the area.

So to meet the challenge full on a number of volunteers have already started to propagate, in large number, slips and cuttings. Nothing is being left to chance.

These should then be ready to plant out along the pathway next spring. Thus reducing the cost of buying all the plants required.

'For our exchange library that will be in-situ near the oval seating area; a number of used books have already been donated. Even at this early stage there is something for all age groups to enjoy.' said Liam Nolan.

At the end of the recent annual open air mass in the grotto Liam gave a short presentation on the ambitious plans of the Grotto Group.

He outlined to those present ways in which they could contribute to the work being undertaken as the project is very much community based with much local involvement required. Much interest was voiced over a cup of tea afterwards with many volunteering their services at some level when required.

Since the formation of the Monageer Grotto Group in 2004, meetings have taken place every Monday night, for the months of May to September, to carry out any maintenance jobs that need doing, the organisers hoping that funding will soon be availabe to help them progress the project before the winter sets in.

'When required we have also given extra hours on a Saturday, like this year when we put in a new gravel pathway through the new woodland walk and a new play area,' said Liam.

FAS will allocate more hours to the grotto once this new venture is in place.

'Once the project is finished I can see some more people coming on board with us to help out, even on a small scale every bit extra will be a help to us.'

The sensory walkway will have a central oval seated area in stone-work that can be used by the local School, Youth Club, Active Retirement Group and many locals, as well as outside visitors.

The sensory garden will be an environment that is designed with the purpose of stimulating the senses. This stimulation occurs courtesy of plants and the use of materials that engage one's senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.

Sensory gardens are popular with and beneficial to both children and adults, especially those who have sensory processing issues, including autism and other disabilities.

To get the maximum use from a sensory garden, it is important to include tactile materials, water, and sound and to make the area accessible to wheelchair users, buggies, people with vision problems or mobility issues. Sensory gardens, such as the one being created in Monageer, are used for recreational and educational purposes. To incorporate this element into the walk a central seated area surrounded by a wall and flowers will be included which can be used for nature study classes and events such as small parish gatherings.

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.'

Wexford People

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