Special biodiversity of Dunmore in Kilkenny sets it out as unique amenity

Where the wild things are: Area near former landfill could be perfect for dog walkers, schools, outdoor groups, and more

Sam Matthews

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Sam Matthews

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY

File pic: 'It’s a step closer to providing a ‘dog park’ like we see in many other countries,' says one local councillor

A feasibility study is under way to see if the area near Dunmore Recycling Centre can be transformed into a unique natural amenity area.

The 17-acre site, less than 5km from Kilkenny City, has been found to be very rich in its habitat — grasslands, orchids, sandy soil/gravel and hedgerows — making it a biodiversity goldmine.

Kilkenny County Council recently commissioned an ecologist to look at two local habitats, one of which was Dunmore. When the landfill was closed and capped, seeds were sewn on its top, and it seems the environment is particularly conducive to wildflower proliferation.

“It is in very good condition for pollinators,” council environment engineer Frank Stafford told local councillors at the February monthly meeting.

“We feel it can provide more however, so we are proposing to engage consultants to look at creating a natural amenity area.”

If a success, the new area could be of value to everyone, from schools to outdoor groups, to cyclists and — perhaps in particular — dog walkers. Mr Stafford said it would not have the benefit of similar amenities located in built-up areas, and so would have to be ‘very high-end’ to attract people out to it.

Cllr Andrew McGuinness said that a dog-friendly area in Dunmore would be ‘fantastic news’: “It’s a step closer to providing a ‘dog park’ like we see in many other countries,” he said.

“I suggest we go further and call it a dog park, or advertise it as such.”

Cllr David Fitzgerald also welcomed the suggestion to broaden the use of Dunmore to a park and biodiversity area. Mr Stafford said the council would take suggestions on board.

While many areas and walking routes in Kilkenny welcome or at least tolerate dogs, most require walkers to keep their pets leashed at all times. In other areas, the physical environment or infrastructure can hamper the appeal, while access to bins and bags to combat dog fouling is not always convenient.

With the council’s new Litter Management Plan being prepared, at the Feburary meeting, environmental awareness officer Bernadette Moloney warned members that dog fouling had been an issue in the last plan, and it would remain an issue in the forthcoming one.

“We are trying to develop dog-friendly walking routes, along already-established routes, but there will be a bin along the route and [signage] will tell how long it is, and the facilities for your dog along it,” she said.

“We need more awareness — we definitely haven’t solved the dog fouling problem,” she said.

The members needed no reminding. Cllr Deirdre Cullen (FF) recalled a visit to Abbey Meadow in Callan the previous Saturday, where she said 26 examples of dog fouling were noted. The Bennettsbridge councillor asked if it was possible to work with groups to introduce more bins and/or signage.

“It’s impossible to have a dog warden going around following everyone, but 26 examples on a Saturday morning is quite a bad story,” she said.