Swords Tidy Towns linked up with Swords Woodland Association, Easy Treesie and Fingal County Council to create a new woodland in Swords Manor, Ward River Valley Park. Just under 3,000 trees in total were planted between the end of 2019 and the start of 2022 engaging various local community groups.
Several site visits and a site survey took place in advance of any planting at this site at the commencement of this project for Science Week in November 2019, as part of the national Science Foundation Ireland – Easy Treesie – Tree Council of Ireland initiative. Some litter blackspots were identified and an extensive clean-up was carried out by Fingal County Council, which included the removal of abandoned cars. A small area was chosen to start this project. The site was frequented by many dog walkers and was a favourite place of scrambler bikers, so it was decided to start with a 300-tree project at that time. New paths for walking were also laid by the Council in 2021 improving the area and the access to it even more.
Tree Species selection in this area was agreed with Lourda Darcy, Parks Manager, Fingal Co. Council with Colm Rigney and Joe Daly, Fingal Operations Department Team, members of the Swords Woodland Association and the Easy Treesie project team.
The quantity of different tree species varied somewhat at different planting events, but it was a mix of alder, common and silver birch, oak and willow.
At the request of Fingal County Council, streamers were added to new trees planted, especially near paths and boundaries so that they would not be inadvertently mowed.
Timeline of tree planting events at Swords Manor site
Fifth class students from St. Cronan’s NS and volunteers from Swords Tidy Towns and Swords Woodland Association planted 650 Irish native tree saplings just behind the Swords Manor football pitches. Due to the quantity of long grass at the site, a team with augurs was sent in. Holes were dug mechanically for the children who were aged approx. 8 – 10, who would have found digging too taxing without assistance. They were rewarded with hot chocolate and snacks in their school hall after this winter adventure.
Another 250 alder, common birch and willow saplings were planted the following morning at the same location by Swords Woodland Association and local volunteers. They also started the mulching programme.
During the lockdown a tree nursery was set up at a nearby farm, where trees were heeled-in until it was practical to organise “Distanced Planting” days.
Events were held in accordance with the latest Covid guidelines as permitted, such as a planting day in December 2021 with local volunteers. The designated planting area for this project was extended substantially, building on the success of the 2019 project.
In November 2021, Swords Tidy Towns volunteers met with Swords Woodland Association to revisit the Swords Manor site; have some training for new volunteers and to discuss the details of the upcoming tree planting event.
Later that month, volunteers from both groups and also those from a local Broadmeadow Community Garden planted around 700 oak, alder, common and silver birch saplings at the Swords Manor site.
A team of Green Schools students from St Finian’s Community College continued this project by planting another 115 trees on the same site in December that year.
At the start of 2022 Swords Tidy Towns volunteers linked up with Swords Woodland Association again, and planted another 300 saplings at the Swords Manor site
This successful planting programme was continued by pre-university Environmental and Biodiversity Students from Killester College, who planted another 200 saplings in the area.
The last planting event for this particular project took place in March this year to mark National Tree Week and Seachtain na Gaeilge. Children of the local Gaelscoil Bhrian Boroimhe were invited to take part. Members of Swords Tidy Towns and Swords Woodland Association were there to assist Orla Farrell from Easy Treesie. The children were shown how and where the trees should be planted, ensuring that they would be spaced appropriately, and holes dug to the right depths to give them the best chance of survival. The opportunity to hear and to speak the Irish language was an added bonus for those of us, who rarely encounter it in our daily lives. The children listened well to the instructions, and they managed to plant a great number of trees before returning to school with their teachers. The adults then continued with the planting until no more suitable spaces could be found.
This new planting, tentatively called Manor Woods, has been planted by the Council as part of the proposed Wildlife Corridor project that would eventually link up to a re-developed Usher’s lake.
All the tree plantings at this location create a natural extension of the woodland in the Ward River Valley park. It helps to create wildlife habitat; reduces the risk of flooding and also helps to improve air quality.
The transformation of this site, from being used as a dumpsite and a place for anti-social behaviour to a young forest, improved the aesthetics of the place and now encourages outdoor activity in the area. Growing and maturing trees will greatly benefit the people living in the area by having a positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing, reducing stress and encouraging outdoor exercise.
By engaging local communities in these tree planting events we help to build community spirit, social ties and unity.
The project has had losses of around 25%. The causes were natural predation by rabbits, damage by dogs, vandalism and drought.
We are constantly working on improving the heeling-in process and management, better preparation on site with volunteers, use of planting schemes and stimulating a teamwork ethos for students. We are now using streamers to mark the newly planted trees to avoid accidental mowing.
Brackenstown Road Mural
The large, grey, unsightly wall on Brackenstown Road was an eyesore and a temptation to random graffiti artists. Last year Ken Duffy, chairman of STT, approached the owner, Tony May, on our behalf for permission to create an eye-catching mural.
The aim of the this installation was to reflect the diversity of flora and fauna in this area of Swords. Fortunately our committe was made aware of two young, local and talented artists. They met up with Aj Higgins and Nicole Reddin to discuss this brief, and were impressed by their passion for the environment. These artists noted what was requested, and went away to produce several alternative designs. STT chose their favourite.
STT submitted an application with the selected design to the Environmental Awareness Anti-Litter Anti-Graffiti competition run by Fingal County Council. We were delighted to win €1,500 grant to complete this project.
Despite the restraints of Covid and inclement weather, these young artists completed the project by January of this year. This lovely artwork appeals to passers-by of all ages.
Frontline Workers Commemorative Garden
Phase 1 – Ground preparation, planting, benches installation and the launch.
At the side of Drynam Road off the Malahide Road we have transformed a large green area into a Wildflower Garden, the site has been cleared and rotavated and the seeds have been planted. This project was funded by the DAA.
Upgrade of the Perennial Flowerbed at Pinnock Hill
In May 2021 we have restructured and slightly expanded the existing flower bed, planted some more pollinators friendly plants and mulched the the flowerbed to slow down the weeds. This flowerbed was formerly looked after by FCC.
Flower bed extension at Welcome to Swords Sign
We have doubled the size of the current flower bed at one of our Welcome to Swords signs near the Fingallians GAA roundabout by adding a good amount of pollinators friendly plants. We used mulch as a way to suppress the weeds.
Planters at Cross Care
River Walk Project
Step 1 – Ground preparation for laying the grass
Step 2 – Laying grass, planting flowers
Step 3 – Expanding the area: clearing the undergrowth on the riverbank, painting the wall and removing graffiti – all while being visited by RTÉ Nationwide.
Step 4 – Planting on the riverbank
Step 5 – More planting along the river walkway
Step 6 – Ongoing planting, mulching and maintenance (2020 – 2021)
Step 7 – Connecting a neglected area around the corner to the river walk planting.
Flowerbed Installation at Colaiste Choilm Entrance
STT wanted to improve the entrance to Colaiste Choilm – the school situated on the Dublin Road which is one of the main roads leading to Swords village.
Creating the flower bed allowed us to rejuvenate an area that was neglected for a very long time. We planted plants that will provide colour and interest all year round. We planted some evergreen plants, shrubs and lots of perennial pollinators friendly flowers like Salvia, Calluna Vulgaris, Rudbeckia, Erigeron, Lavender, Echinacea, Aster, Hebe and many others.
Once we completed the planting Fingal County Council extended the path to complete the project.
Have a look at our before, between and after photos in the gallery below:
Urban Art Project
Our urban art project was completed in January 2020 and is a continuation of the river walk project.
Sprucing up vacant buildings on Main Street
Swords Tidy Towns have been concerned about the detariorating state of the recently closed down Lord Mayor’s Pub and a little cottage across the road from it. The permission was given to access the premises of Lord Mayor’s so the entranceway visible from the Main street can be tidied up. Seven of our volunteers spent a couple of hours sweeping the leaves and debris, and rescuing forgotten plants.
Eric and Noel teamed up to improve the look of the cottage by replacing the broken glass in the door and giving them a new bright look.
Robert Hammond who had been working with us on another project before, had agreed to do some art on boarded up windows of the Lord Mayor’s as well as those of the cottage. Have a look at the final result in the gallery below:
Inclusiveness Project near the Malahide Roundabout
This was the brain child of two of Swords Tidy Towns members, Mary Maxwell and Matt Cullen. The aim was to celebrate the wide diversity of age groups and cultural backgrounds within Swords Tidy Towns, which reflects the general population of the Fingal Council area. It was in recognition of this diversity that we were awarded the National Tidy Towns Diversity Award in 2017. Since then our group has grown with the addition new members of all ages and diverse cultural backgrounds
The sleepers were installed under the watchful eyes of Matt Cullen, Mary Maxwell and Billy McClean. They were also involved in the painting. The staff at Colourtrend advised on the correct stain for the sleepers. Lindsey Balfe, a teacher at St Finians Community College, cut out all the letters and made the logos.
Groups of our enthusiastic volunteers spent many Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings digging and weeding the site close to the Malahide Roundabout. Excellent advice for the choice of plants and how to plant them was given by Martin Nulty and Martin Tully. Fingal Council Operations Department under Colin Rigney cleared the site before we dug. They provided the mulch, which was spread by our members after our planting. We were joined one Saturday morning by the 164th Brackenstown Bobcats cubs, who helped with the planting.
On the evening of Tuesday, May 30, 2019, the Inclusiveness Sculpture and garden were launched. The ribbon was cut by Fingal Mayor Eoghan O’Brien.
Swords Tidy Towns Art Project 2018/2019
Swords Tidy Towns Art Project is on display at the Castle Shopping Centre Swords. Three pieces have been put on display, two more will be added shortly. The project is a collaborative one with Snowflakes, Prosper Fingal, Fingal Community College, Youthreach and Swords Seniors Club.
This was a collaborative effort supported by Fingal County Council and many local community people and the local business community too. The project incorporated the clean-up of areas of Swords Ward River pathways, the clean-up and replanting of shrubs and flowers by Swords Tidy Towns Volunteers. The creative community artwork was combined in this project in order to encourage the engagement through creativity with the local groups and the community of Swords Town.
Some core Team members of STT and local Artists wanted to increase the inclusion of local people in a creative way. Local schools and local organisations were involved in this project work to create and display artwork within the town of Swords. ( Castle shopping centre car park, Open Art Gallery was born!)
This artwork was to represent the historical connection to Swords Castle and some of Swords history, and the present creative and diverse community of Swords today, from school age children right up to the Seniors of Swords. Using the combined ideas and input to designs, the groups represented a total of five art board designs that were created using local spaces like YouthReach Centre, North Street and St. Colmcilles GAA sports centre, to paint and create the art boards for the project. Three of the art boards have now been installed on the car park wall at Swords Castle Shopping centre: the Brian Boru board (Swords History), “Snowflakes” board (local support group for children with Autism) and ”Inside the Swords Norman castle” (tax collection day! Artist impression!) The other two boards are hoped to be completed over the summer and are to be installed by the end of August for everyone to enjoy!
The project involved a massive amount of planning, meetings with local people and artists over a year of work. There are so many local supporters of the project to thank and it is the beginning of hopefully many more wonderful community based projects of creativity within the swords area to come, a fitting introduction to the wonderful plans ahead for the cultural quarters at Swords Castle!
Big Thanks to: Fingal County Council, DAA Group, ColourTrend, Swords Towns people, Tully`s Plant Centre, Woodies, Lidl, Aldi…..Core Team: Ken, Mary, Matt, George, Saida, Miriam, Eamon, Liadan, Liliana, Siobhan, Orla, Billy. All YouthReach staff, David, Eddie, Fran, Jason, GAA Centre Staff , Alfie, Graham, Marian for providing the space to produce the artwork, and many more for their help in pulling this together ……..
In June 2019, artist Orla Jones painted the sentry box at the entrance to Castle Shopping Centre as part of a Swords Tidy Towns art project. Check out these before and after photos!
The Bug Hotel – Pinnockhill Roundabout
Our Swords Tidy Towns member David Madden put his extensive carpentry skills into producing this 5 star bug hotel which was officially launched in April 2019. Happy stay!
Old Water Pump House Project – Brackenstown Road
In January 2019 our dedicated volunteers of Swords Tidy Towns have transformed the old water pump house into a beautiful planter for all to admire.
Rock Garden Park – Rathbeale Road Swords
Rock Garden Park derived its name from its former use as a quarry. For many years it remained an empty paddock, before Swords Tidy Towns and Fingal County Council collaborated to turn it into a valuable public amenity. Two of our members, Mary Maxwell and Matt Cullen, were involved in the design of this park.
St. Colmcille’s Well
St. Colmcille’s Well is of great historical significance within the town of Swords, it is reputed to be where Swords got its name when St. Colmcille blessed the well of clear water, “Sord” being the Irish for ‘clear or pure’. Swords Tidy Towns identified the area around the Well as a project where improvements could be made as the appearance and presentation of the area did not reflect its great historical significance. We started work in late 2015 and completed it in 2016. This project has been funded 50% by FCC and 50% by Swords Tidy Towns with the support and sponsorship of local business.