BY MARTIN WALSH
A STROLL along the beach in Ownahincha for the O’Donnell sisters from Courtmacsherry led Lola (12) and Saoirse (10) to develop a simple idea to help keep their own local beaches litter -free.
Since last summer a number of beach-cleaning stations have been placed at strategic points along the Seven Heads Walk.
Lola said: ‘We were on a walk out in Ownahincha and I spotted this board near the lifeguard station called the two minute beach clean. Dad took a photograph of it and we came home and did some research. He helped us and we designed our own board.
‘We had a number of them made and printed up and we decided to call them the Seven Heads Cleaning Station.’
Saoirse added: ‘We got local sponsorship to cover the costs. The Courtmacsherry Hotel, Courtmacsherry Whale Watching, the Pier House and the Courtmacsherry Community Shop all helped out financially and it was great.’
The units were positioned at Courtmacsherry Beach, near the Courtmacsherry Rowing Club’s premises, Broadstrand, Blind Strand, Moloney Strand and Dunworley.
Unfortunately, some of the units were vandalised and the one at Blind Strand was replaced after it was stolen.
Damage to others included the inverted plastic bottles that were used as a dispenser for the bags, being ripped from the board, the bottle arrangement at those locations has since been replaced with a section of drainpipe.
The girls’ work hasn’t stopped as every few weeks they make a trip around (with the help of their parents Jim and Barbara) to the locations to empty and change the bags, often collecting any other plastic that comes in with the tide.
Their initiative has drawn praise from local SinnFéin Cllr Paul Hayes, who assisted them in the noteworthy project.
He said: ‘I want to commend Jim and his daughters Lola and Saoirse for their tenacity in progressing it from an idea to actually having these cleaning stations installed at various locations around the Seven Heads Peninsula. I’m heartened for our future when young people like Lola and Saoirse could see an issue in their community, that of litter on the local beaches, and decided to do something about it.
‘I must also commend Teddy Brown from Cork County Council’s environmental section, who has supplied the litter pickers and bags for the project,’ added Cllr Hayes.
‘I hope that visitors coming to enjoy our beautiful natural amenities will respect the area by not dropping their rubbish in the first instance, but also hope that people will use these beach cleaning stations to collect litter that may have washed up on the beach.
‘Our future is bright with conscientious young people like Lola and Saoirse living in our community.’