The Waters and Communities Office recently collaborated with the Annagh Residents Group and friends of the Breensford River to celebrate all that is good with the waterway and look at ways of bringing the river and the Annagh community closer together.
Guest speakers on the day included Mayor of Athlone, Cllr Frankie Keena, Basil Mannion, Community Water Officer for Offaly/Westmeath/Laois, Melanie McQuade, Heritage Officer with Westmeath county Council, local man Ronnie O’Neill and aquatic ecologist Ross Macklin of Triturus Environmental.
Frankie Keena welcomed everyone to the event and spoke about the importance of the Annagh Community and the role that the Breensford River has always played in the Community.
Basil addressed to the gathering about how the Breensford River could be brought back into community focus within the community and also spoke about the increased efforts which are being undertaken across all sectors to improve community interaction nationally with our natural waters with the overall objective of improving our river, lake, canal and stream water quality. Basil specifically highlighted the current water quality of the Breensford River and surrounding water bodies and detailed the various pressures that were being placed on these waterbodies.
Melanie McQuade spoke about the importance of our heritage and specifically our natural water heritage and how events like this helped to bring focus to our local heritage.
Ronnie O’Neill also gave an insight into the historical link between the mill house which is his residence and the Breensford River.
The Waters and Communities Office engaged the expertise of aquatic ecologist Ross Macklin who superbly led a river walk and talk along the Breensford River in the Annagh Cross Park and enabled children and adults alike to discover new information and stories and spot amazing wildlife on their doorstep! The nature walk was a fun-filled activity and helped all to learn about and appreciate the wide variety of precious wildlife that the Breensford River is home to.
The day’s activities also included the opportunity for participants to observe a kick-sampling demonstration in the river which helped to assess the quality of the water and to discover the types of invertebrates which inhabit the waterwat. A wide variety of living creatures were found and also some evidence of otter activity in the area.
The Waters and Communities Office would like to thank all who attended the talk and river walk and would also like to express gratitude to the Annagh Community Group for their help and support in coordinating the event.