Lord Mayor’s Canal Volunteer Appreciation Night

 

On May 29th, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Naoise Ó’Muirí held an appreciation night in the Mansion House for some seventy or eighty volunteers and enthusiasts involved with both the Royal and Grand Canals.

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Members of the Grand Canal Sub Committee pictured with the Lord Mayor.

This night was organised by Mick Kinihan of the Inland Waterways of Ireland, who sits on both the Grand Canal Sub Committee and the Royal Canal Sub Committee. It was a great night for all and it is hoped that it will become an annual event.

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The Lord Mayor welcomed and thanked all the volunteers and enthusiasts for their efforts in maintaining and promoting both of these beautiful amenities and gave a lovely speech about the Canals, the role of Lord Mayor and a history of the Mansion House, which was followed by a speech from Breffnie O’Kelly, founder member of The Friends of the Grand Canal Clean Up Group, and member of the Grand Canal Sub Committee. Breffnie has kindly allowed us to transcribe her speech below. Before and after the official reception, there was a lot of mingling and networking between all the attendees, and afterwards the Lord Mayor posed for photographs with practically every one there.

“I’m honoured to represent the Grand Canal Subcommittee this evening to say our thanks to you Naoise O Muiri,  Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Lord Mayor, I just looked up your website  to get a flavour of “a day in your life”…… and after a few minutes on your face book page I felt exhausted !!!! On Tuesday of this week you hosted the Olympic Medallists. Last night it was a networking group of business people in Raheny and Clontarf. This evening it’s us…..the Royal and Grand Canal working groups, volunteers and enthusiasts. In the meanwhile, you have your “day job” two young daughters and a nearly three month old baby. You are a busy man, the first citizen of Dublin and your invitation this evening means a lot to us.

The purpose of this evening I think is to celebrate our shared interests.  

This evening, for one night only, the eighteenth century  Royal and Grand Canals flow into the  19th century Mansion House while we 21st century people enjoy the whole connection. Because it is all about connection and community.

Each of us in the room this evening is connected by the fact that we have all identified something we love and have “gone for it” in some way! In one way or another each one of us has  said “Yes,  I like this canal, I’d like to get more connected with it ….I’ll clean it, I’ll put a boat on it, I’ll learn about it, I’ll campaign for it”….and in doing this, we have learnt more about the canals and more about how good it feels when we take action and see where that action then takes us.

In my case I’d like to share with you my own experience of taking initiative and getting something very simple going.

I walked out my front door one Saturday morning six years ago with 8 litter pickers and 30 bags and headed for Leeson St. bridge.  I was feeling  excited and a bit shy too.  I had emailed everyone who signed an attendance sheet at a public meeting about the Grand Canal, organised by Chris Andrews.  I had emailed them to see if they’d like to join me to help Clean The Grand Canal and I was wondering if anyone was going to show up.

Six years on, that walk out my front door has taken me on a much bigger journey than I had planned. I’ve met great new friends and neighbours…. I feel I now know nearly half the people on Baggot St from our monthly Grand Canal Clean Ups. I have found out just how willing people and businesses are to help.  Starbucks on Mespil Rd advertise our Clean ups and carry us up delicious coffee and bickies every month.

I’ve discovered a world of fellow canal enthusiasts, championed in my neck of the woods by the human whirlwind of kindness and positivity that is Mick Kinahan of the Irish Inland Waterways Association.

I’ve been amazed at the democratic, informed  and genuinely committed  engagement I’ve encountered from Dublin City Council in the persons of  Bruce Phillips, Sheila Dunne, Martin McDonagh, Derek Farrell and Sid Daly. 

Derek Higgins from Waterways Ireland has proved to be three men in one…with a productivity rate that astounds.

Sam Field Corbett has been a fun and “can do” accomplice in every way.

I feel like something has been created which is more than the sum of it’s parts.  People from very different worlds,  who woudn’t otherwise know each other are now meeting, planning, creating and working together for a common goal.   Through our concern with the beautiful watery world of the canals, we have become closer to this natural world within the city, but we have also become more widely and deeply connected to each other.  And I’m very thankful for that.”