Environmental Monitoring in West Cork
One of our environmental specialists, Ted O’Connell provided some insight into his week spent working with the EPA in West Cork. EES in partnership with Noonan provides monitoring assistance to the EPA for a nationwide lake sampling program during the summer months.
“I was pleased to spend the week sampling Macrophytes on the lakes of West Cork. My week started at the EPA offices in Inniscarra, where I met Ruth from the EPA’s freshwater team. Ruth and her much loved boat have recently relocated from Mayo where she was based for the past 10 years.
Firstly, we loaded the van with the motors and various equipment. Most importantly the 3 metre inflatable boat, which would serve us well. Once we had gone to pick up a new anchor and paddles (very important) we were on our way to Lough Allua near Inchilgeelagh, where we struggled to find take away coffee yet soldiered on regardless. The first day we stayed close to home to ensure that the motors were running and the equipment was all in working order. Also, this afforded me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Macrophyte sampling – The reason I have this opportunity is that it is a requirement of the Water Framework Directive for all lakes to be sampled for plant life to assess quality every three years.
Although not particularly sunny it was quite warm all week, and working on a boat proved an entirely agreeable place to spend it with the cool breeze off the lakes. Day two started on Lough Abisdealy owned by the by the beautiful Lis Ard Country Estate. Here we began to develop a good rhythm with our respective roles on the boat and the work was starting to come naturally.
Day three took us down the Mizen head peninsula past the famous villages of Schull and Goleen. First up was Tooreen which provided both the most awkward access and the best view. With no clear path to the lake we first tried to negotiate past a few horned bovines but thought better of it. After a bit of a search we found that the only access the lake was to trek our gear through a field and over a barbed wire fence! Upon completion of our tasks our route back down to the coast gave a breathtaking view of Crookhaven village across the bay ahead of us, just about as far south as one can go before hitting the Atlantic.
Our second lake of the day, Skeagh, located in the hills above Shcull gave a more relaxed end to the day with Herons and the biggest Dragonfly I’ve seen offering a break from aquatic plants. Its not all fun though as we finished up and returned to our accommodation in Dunmanway there was not much left of what was a beautiful summers evening.
Day four, and the last for this week was an example in productivity. The morning spent at Ballin Lough which is near …. well no where in particular as far as I can tell, and then onto Curraghalicky lake where we were spoiled with a purpose built slipway. By now we had figured out a fairly smooth routine and were headed back to base camp in the early evening, which was just as well as we arrived back into a torrential downpour heading back East.
Overall an excellent experience and a nice change of pace from FOG inspections and office duties back in Dublin. With the opportunity to see the rolling hills, scenic lakes and coast of Cork, along with the warren of boghreens in the west of the county.
I am already looking forward to Monday when we will set out for the lakes of Kerry, where I am informed it is even more beautiful than Cork (not something a Cork man likes to hear). With luck it will bring new and interesting locations and plant species I’ve not yet seen this week. Hopefully the weather is as kind!”
Author: Ted O’Connell, 25th July 2014