Poetic pleas to protect Shannon from ‘plunder’

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

JAMES Joyce once wrote of the “dark mutinous Shannon waves” and now writers have come together as part of a rebellion against Dublin City Council’s plans to “plunder” Ireland’s longest river of its water resources.

JAMES Joyce once wrote of the “dark mutinous Shannon waves” and now writers have come together as part of a rebellion against Dublin City Council’s plans to “plunder” Ireland’s longest river of its water resources.

Anthology for a River is a collection of poetry - with contributions from Limerick and all over Ireland, from the UK and the United States - which will be launched at the White House bar this Thursday night as part of a campaign to call a halt to the water extraction proposals Dublin City Council is pushing as a solution to chronic water shortages in the capital.

Edited by Teri Murray, the anthology brings together almost 40 poets who have either written tributes to the Shannon or jeremiads against Dublin City Council’s plans. Limerick actor and writer Myles Breen will host the evening of song and verse.

Proceeds from sales will be used by the River Shannon Protection Alliance (RSPA) - which has local branches in Limerick city and at Dromineer on the shores of Lough Derg - in their continuing campaign against the plans to take hundreds of millions of litres of water a day from the Shannon system. Up to 400 million litres would be extracted daily at Terryglass; stored in a reservoir in a depleted bog outside Portarlington and piped to the capital.

“The purpose of the anthology is two-fold,” explained Gerry Siney, chairman of the RSPA’s Limerick branch, “to give voice, as only poets can, to the widespread fear of the plunder of the river with its serious environmental, economic and social implications for some one million people who live along its length; and secondly to raise funds for the campaign of opposition being lead by the River Shannon Protection Alliance.”

“Dublin City Council may have millions of euros of taxpayers money with which to promote their adventures toward the Shannon, while the RSPA, as a voluntary organisation, relies totally on fundraising,” said Mr Siney.

Limerick City Council has already adopted a motion tabled by Cllr John Gilligan opposing the plans. And the RSPA is attempting to mobilise formal objections from the 18 local authorities which the river runs through from the Shannon Pot to Loop Head. Mr Siney said none of these planning authorities would have an input if, as expected, the proposal is fast-tracked to An Bord Pleanala as strategic infrastructure.

The RSPA believe it will do untold environmental damage to the Shannon system as well as affect businesses reliant on tourism, boating and angling.

The University of Limerick Activity Centre at Killaloe - which runs sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and other watersports - is understood to have concerns about the plans. And a former harbourmaster at Shannon Foynes Port Company, Alan Coghlan, believes extracting so much water from the Shannon system could result in silt build-up at Limerick Port and a loss of income.

Dublin City Council said its proposals would divert only two per cent of the water at times of full flow but the RSPA argue that up to 32 per cent of flow would be needed to supply Dublin in dry spells.

Anthology For A River will be launched this Thursday, July 26, at the O’Connell Street pub at 8pm sharp. The event is open to the public, free of charge and refreshments will be served.