THE ‘StreamScapes Lee’ festival at The Island, Inichigeela, recently saw national school students and community representatives releasing juvenile salmon into the River Lee.
A large-scale project had earlier seen StreamScapes staff visiting the four participating schools – Ballingeary, Inchigeela, Canovee and Clondrohid – with students learning about the River Lee catchment, with schools taking field trips to their nearest streams and seeing first-hand the rich biodiversity that depends on clean waters.
Prior to the releasing of the fish, participants had gathered in Inchigeela Parish Hall to view project artworks created by students of the four schools.
In his remarks to the assembled crowd, StreamScapes director Mark Boyden thanked the community for hosting the event, Cork County Council for sponsoring the project, Gerard Manning and the ESB for providing the salmon fry for release, and the schools and students who participated so enthusiastically. Boyden also paid tribute to the Macroom environmentalist Kevin Corcoran, who has done so much to promote the Lee and the Gearagh; the artist and filmmaker Declan O’Mahony, whose film River Runner is stimulating discussion on the Lee; and Bia Gleann Laoi and their Come Back Salmon campaign.
Dr Mary Stack, representing the Environmental Awareness & Research Unit (EARU) of Cork County Council, praised the schools and students, saying: ‘You are the future and your awareness of rivers and waterways is the key to us achieving high status waters in the county, with all of the benefits that brings to our communities.’ The schools’ project work included a poster representing fish and aquatic life (Inchigeela), a clever giant ‘foodweb’ (Scoil Naisiúnta Fionnbarra, Ballingeary), both co-ordinated by Jessica Mason, and photographic posters (Canovee and Clondrohid) produced by wildlife photographer Darragh Murphy of StreamScapes.
As the fish were released into the Lee, Joe Creedon of Creedon’s Hotel entertained the crowd with stories from the Lee, including St Finbarr in Gougane and Lough Allua.