The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) have been celebrating the year of the Gathering by connecting with our Dutch friends. Earlier in the year IPCC offered to host a Dutch Student from the University of Larstein in the Netherlands at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre. Leonie Tijsma joined the IPCC to complete her thesis project in developing a loop walk on Lullymore Island for members of the local community and visitors to the area to explore and enjoy. The Irish Peatland Conservation Council also offered to host the 30 year jubilee of the Dutch Foundation for the Conservation of Irish Bogs at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre on International Bog Day.
Over the past two weeks the IPCC have gathered staff and volunteers and were joined by friends from the Netherlands, the local community and nationally. On the 21st of June IPCC staff and Leonie welcomed members of the Lullymore community along with the Dutch Ambassador to Ireland His Excellency Mr Paul Schellekens to the Bog of Allen Nature Centre the trail head for the newly developed loop walk. All who attended the day enjoyed a talk and guided walk by Leonie.
On International Bog Day the Bog of Allen Nature Centre welcomed the committee members of the Dutch Foundation for the Conservation of Irish Bogs from the Netherlands. County Kildare Mayor Mark Wall opened the day by welcoming the guests both International and Irish. The Mayor also introduced the first speaker of the day Dr. Matthijs Schouten. Matthijs visited Ireland in 1978 and was based in Lullymore. His project was to study peatland plants, however he was shocked at the level of peat development. His passion for Irish peatlands empowered him to encourage his Irish lecturers and friends to establish the Irish Peatland Conservation Council and on his return home to the Netherlands, the Dutch Foundation for the Conservation of Irish Bogs. These two organisations have worked together for over 30 years on the conservation of a representative sample of Irish bogs for future generations to enjoy. Visitors also enjoyed talks from Jim Ryan of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Dr. Catherine O’Connell of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council and explored the wildlife gardens and peatland exhibition at the centre.
IPCC’s Gathering event was entitled ‘A Day on the Bog’, it was about sharing memories of our peatland experiences from the past whatever they may have been and making new memories. To help visitors make new memories IPCC led a walk to Lullymore West Bog where Oliver Carney entertained us with traditional Irish music from his accordian, visitors shared their peatland memories and of course the trip to the bog was completed with brown bread and jam and tea and coffee made from boiling water in a volcano kettle on the bog.