THE first phase of the Thomastown river regeneration project was unveiled at the weekend. The project is a testament to what can be achieved when a number of small community organisations work together and has provided a new amenity to Thomastown residents.
The Thomastown Community River Trust (TCRT) are the umbrella body who have been spearheading the redevelopment of the river since the Thomastown weir collapsed in 2008. Through a series of fund raising initiatives the group raised over €14,000 from the community towards the project. They have also received support from Kilkenny Leader Partnership. They focused on using environmentally friendly and sustainable engineering and working in close partnerships with a diverse range of groups from walkers, to kayaker and anglers.
After three years of work the first phase of the project was opened. Locals can now walk from Thomastown along the river bank up to Thomastown Viaduct, a fantastic piece of industrial heritage built in the 1870’s. Trails Kilkenny are currently working on the route from Bennettsbridge to Inistioge and Phase 1 forms part of this. The causeway included in the Phase 1 works allows both locals and visitors to walk, enjoy the sounds of the river, the landscape and various sites of industrial heritage, including the mills.
Speakers at the ribbon cutting ceremony of phase one Jerry Gardner of Thomastown Community River Trust (TCRT) Joe Teesdale (Chairperson, Thomastown and District Anglers Association) Oscar Ryan (Chairperson, Thomastown Community River Trust) Declan Rice (CEO, Kilkenny Leader Partnership /Trails Kilkenny) and Suzanne Campion (Inland Fisheries Ireland) all paid tribute to the effort and co-ordination that had gone in to achieving the completion of the first phase of the works.
It was mentioned that the success of this Phase of works was down to the hard work of both TCRT and Thomastown Anglers and it was an event that also was a celebration of small community groups coming together, working together and achieving something for the local community. The River Nore has been central to the history of Thomastown and local community members were encouraged to get involved with TCRT, Thomastown Anglers and the local canoeing club to help make Thomastown a better place to live in and more attractive to visitors during these tough economic times.
Work is already under way on plans for the second phase of the with the Thomastown Anglers and Kilkenny Leader Partnership working closely with the Thomastown Community River Trust.
The aim of the project is to restore the weir, sluice and mill wheel. Doing this will re-establish the swimming pond, canoe training pond and fish pass. The group hope the project will turn a river into an educational resource centre.