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Limerick local Sinead Jackson aims to develop Shannon Interpretation Centre



Shannon Interpretation Centre – The Westfields Wetland covers around 25 hectares and is part of the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation (SAC).  Picture: Kris Luszczk

Limerick local Sinead Jackson aims to develop a Shannon Interpretation Centre

By I Love Limerick Correspondent Ann Mc Donald

Shannon Interpretation Centre

Sinead Jackson hosting an environmental workshop for children on Grouse Mountain in Northern Vancouver

Plans to develop a ‘tourist office for nature’ was discussed at an event in Limerick on Friday, August 27.

Local campaigner Sinead Jackson, who is currently completing a Developmental Perspectives Saolta UN Sustainable Development training course, has chosen to take on the Shannon Interpretation Centre as her project.

“I can’t do it on my own, I’m one individual, and I need a body of people who want to get involved with the centre,” she said.

She said, “I have extensively researched our need for further engagement from the public where environmental community projects are concerned.

People want to hear and be a part of solutions they can be proud of and for this to happen, we need a building to engage all environmental networks under one roof. That way there can be better collaboration with environmental organisations and the public.”

The Shannon Interpretation Centre will provide a place to create a hands-on learning and place-based experience for the people in Limerick City and County.

Sinead explained that the centre would have interactive kiosks, where people can be hands on with nature. The kiosks would include ‘touch boxes’ which would contain different types of plants for people to feel and guess what is inside, as well as recordings of different sounds from nature which they can then go and identify, which she believes will help gets kids involved.

She had previously held talks with a local businessman and won support for the plan from Green Party councillor, Sean Hartigan.

Sinead said, “I hope to raise awareness of climate related issues and bring nature alive in the centre. The centre would not only teach people about their natural environment, but it will also help improve their mental health too.” 

There are many important nature lands in Limerick, such as the Corbally baths, the Westfields Wetlands and the Baggot estate, she explained.

Sinead believes that an interpretive centre could act as a signpost to these areas.

She explained that over lockdown, “People were discovering more, and they want to know more as well.

We propose to develop a nature centre that will connect all environmental organisations throughout Limerick City and County in one location.”

She hopes that other environmental organisations across the city and county join in.

Sinead has already identified a number of urban locations where she thinks the centre could be built, such as the old tourist office building which has been left in disuse, and the buildings by the canal.

She said, “We need to collaborate and work together as a community and call on as many people to get involved with climate change solutions and learn ways to protect the environment as possible.

“Our schools are only starting to introduce natural intelligence into the Irish curriculum with Heritage Schools and Green Schools, but it’s still not enough to condition a deeper connection, something that is continuously there like an interpretation center or a nature hub like Nature Aware can foster and create that connection for longer,” she said.

Sinead is the founder of Nature Aware, which is a nature hub launching in April 2022, located on the River Shannon. The nature hub will deliver unique programs that provide an opportunity for people young and old to de-stress, learn and establish a deeper connection to the natural world.

She was awarded funding for Nature Aware by Student Inc, a programme which was set up to encourage student entrepreneurs to assess the feasibility of their business ideas and start a business in a safe and nurturing environment.

The Shannon Interpretive Centre is something that can bring all the communities in Limerick together, and Sinead hopes to get the project launched in the not-so-distant future.

For more about Shannon go HERE

For more stories about the environment go HERE

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.