My Grandmother Josephine Daly lived in a house at the top of Barrington’s Avenue, a little lane that runs between the Atlantic Pond and the Blackrock Road in Cork.
Even though we lived in Tivoli which is on the other side of the River Lee we spent a lot of time in her house as children. From her house we used to explore the Atlantic Pond area which is close to the Marina which is a splendid walkway along the River Lee to what used to be called the fishing village of Blackrock.
The pond always seems full of wildlife: ducks, water hens, swans, sea gulls and it is wonderful to see so many herons nesting on the trees on the island in the middle of the pond.
The Atlantic Pond was once part of the River Lee system and it was only when they built the Navigational Quay wall along the river that the Marina road was built and the pond was created to take the water flows from the various stream systems that run through the pond and out into the River Lee.
The Pond is adjacent to Cork’s GAA pitch Pairc Ui Chaoimh and as a result on match day thousands of match goers walk around the Pond on their way to and from the matches. It is also visited daily by walkers and children who delight in feeding the wildlife.
The Atlantic Pond can be seen just right of the stadium.
I went for a walk along the river Lee recently and saw an incredible number of rowers on the river. Rowing is now a boom sport all over Ireland thanks to the silver medal success in the Olympics of the wonderful O Donovan brothers from Skibbereen.
I then decided to walk to the pond to see the progress on the redevelopment work at Pairc Ui Chaoimh…very impressive and I then strolled around the pond. I have to admit that I was very disappointed to see the condition of the surrounds of the walls of the pond itself and the very dilapidated state of the paths around the pond.
There is great work currently being undertaking in the village of Blackrock in the area of Cork Boat Club and I know that our current Lord Mayor Des Cahill is giving his enthusiastic support to the ongoing work. I just hope that the plans for Blackrock and the Marina include an upgrading of the Atlantic Pond area as it is badly needed.
I have to admit feeling a little left down by Cork Corporation and those responsible for the upkeep of the Pond area as not too long ago my colleague and friend Dermot O Mahoney and I led a fund raising drive to raise money for the Atlantic pond restoration fund.
The project started when I met Micheál Martin TD when he was Lord Mayor in 1993. Knowing that he regularly walked around the pond area I suggested to him that work was badly needed also at that time and in 1995 he joined us in a fund raising effort to dredge the pond and redo the walkways and grass areas. We also met with Cork Corporation and they said that they would match any money we raised. The Atlantic Pond Restoration Fund was started.
The overall cost was estimated at close to £100,000.
Our fundraising group set ourselves a target of £35,000 and had great fun with table quizzes, fun runs charity walks, golf outings and some musical evenings and eventually after much struggling and a lot of great work by many people we got close to our target and had reached in excess of £30,000. Micheál Martin then approached the wonderful Cork developer Owen O Callaghan who very sadly died earlier this month and his company very kindly gave us the £5,000 we were short. Ted Crosbie of The Irish Examiner was also very generous to us.
So now we were making progress and with our £35,000 being matched by Cork Corporation we were now at £70,000 and with government funding of the balance we reached our target and it was with great satisfaction that we saw the work commence.
The pond was dredged and all the waste was pumped to an area east of the pond and subsequently the main drainage pump for Cork’s sewage disposal to the site at Little Island was built on that reclaimed land. Interestingly many shells were rediscovered at the bottom of the pond from the time it was part of the sea/river system. The paths and the wall of the pond were restored and the grass areas improved. It was wonderful.
So yes to see the Pond in a rundown state is naturally very disappointing for all concerned and hopefully its closest neighbour The GAA with their splendid new stadium and Cork Corporation might lend financial support to do what needs to be done again. I don’t remember getting any support from Cork’s County Board of the GAA the last time but maybe this time around they will feel that the Atlantic Pond area is important enough for them to support. Yes of course if an independent fund raising effort is required I will be available to help. Yes Lord Mayor Des Cahill and yes Micheál Martin and yes the Cork GAA and yes Cork Corporation your help is also badly needed to make The Atlantic Pond something that Cork people can be proud of again.
Ted Dwyer Family Business