Men’s Sheds back in the trenches to fight rhodo­den­dron

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - NEWS -

MEM­BERS of 23 Men’s Sheds from across the island were in Kil­lar­ney Na­tional Park this week to tackle its con­tin­u­ing rhodo­den­dron prob­lem.

For the sec­ond year in suc­ces­sion, Haven Phar­macy and the Ir­ish Men’s Sheds As­so­ci­a­tion teamed up to com­bat the scourge of rhodo­den­dron pon­ticum. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with the NPWS and Kil­lar­ney Cham­ber of Tourism and Com­merce, 50 Men’s Sheds mem­bers from 19 coun­ties re­ported for duty in Kil­lar­ney Na­tional Park from Sun­day to Tues­day.

Un­der the guid­ance of the NPWS, vol­un­teers em­ployed the en­vi­ron­men­tally ap­proved ‘snip and spray’ method to help curb rhodo­den­dron growth. Last year, men’s sheds vol­un­teers cleared a re­mark­able 60 acres of the park, and a sim­i­lar fig­ure was reached this year.

De­spite its at­trac­tive pur­ple flow­ers, rhodo­den­dron pon­ticum poses a se­ri­ous dan­ger to habi­tats, starv­ing na­tive species of light and ob­struct­ing pedes­tri­ans.

“The lads in the sheds were champ­ing at the bit to get back to Kil­lar­ney and get stuck into the rhodo­den­dron clear­ance and this year we had mem­bers from Ty­rone to Cork and ev­ery­where in-be­tween trav­el­ling to lend a hand,” said Barry Sheri­dan, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Ir­ish Men’s Sheds As­so­ci­a­tion,

“The park is a na­tional trea­sure, and this project just shows what Men’s Sheds are about; putting your skills and ex­pe­ri­ence at the dis­posal of the com­mu­nity. It’s also go­ing to be a tremen­dous so­cial oc­ca­sion, a chance for mem­bers across the coun­try to mix with one an­other, and we re­ally can’t thank Haven Phar­macy, the Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice and Kil­lar­ney Cham­ber enough for the op­por­tu­nity”, Sheri­dan con­cluded.

The rhodo­den­dron project was the brain­child of Fin­barr Ken­nelly of Haven Phar­ma­cies in Kil­lar­ney.

Mean­while, as a mem­ber of Kil­lar­ney’s Meitheal, Cllr Michael Glee­son said he was de­lighted to wel­come the Men’s Shed mem­bers to Kil­lar­ney on be­half of Kil­lar­ney Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict coun­cil.

“The shed peo­ple who have come from through­out Ire­land com­mit­ted to spend­ing two days work­ing hard to com­bat the in­va­sive rhodo. These men are fol­low­ing in the steps of a group who last year came to work in the dense thick­ets. The fruits of their labours are clearly ev­i­dent,” he said.

Left, by Va­lerie O’Sul­li­van Photo

Jimmy Hut­ton, of Car­low Men’s Shed; Mor­rogh McMa­hon, Sk­er­ries Men’s Shed; Tim Cahillane, NPWS, Man­ager rhodo­den­dron and Johnny Maguire, Chair­man, Kil­lar­ney Meitheal Vol­un­teers.

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