Source of south Dublin pandemic solace gets a deserved clean-up

Volunteers met in groups along River Dodder between Ringsend and Tallaght to remove litter

 Julie O’Driscoll, Jessica Chambers (background) and James Purcell, from Climate Love Ireland remove litter from the River Dodder on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Julie O’Driscoll, Jessica Chambers (background) and James Purcell, from Climate Love Ireland remove litter from the River Dodder on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

The River Dodder, which meanders through south Dublin, got some some bad press during the Covid-19 lockdown. There was indignation at hordes of young people gathering along its banks to drink and socialise, and even more when they left bottles, cans and other detritus behind.

Hundreds of volunteers, in 11 different groups between Ringsend and Tallaght, gathered along the river on Saturday for the annual Dodder Action clean-up. Though the largest tributary of the River Liffey, it is just 26km long running from the Wicklow Mountains to Ringsend.

The banks were looking splendid on a mid-summer day, with the recent uncommonly cold weather and the opening up of outdoor hospitality having lessened the numbers congregating along it in the evenings.

“It’s great to get out of bed and do this,” said Oran Murphy as he removed half a fishing rod from a bush beside the river.

Bernie Roche and Philippa Carr from Rathfarnham remove litter from the River Dodder on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Bernie Roche and Philippa Carr from Rathfarnham remove litter from the River Dodder on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Dodder Action committee member Victoria White stressed that the clean-up has been going on for 10 years. She said Dublin City Council has done a lot of work keeping the river clean, but “no council could have ever have enough people to clean the river bank”. *

Source of solace

Besides, she believes, the clean-up is really about “ownership”. The lockdowns made people appreciate the outdoors and the river has been a source of solace for thousands of Dublin residents.

“This is from going from passive to active. For two years I saw a dolly’s pram in the river and I walked by and I said somebody should do something about that. I pulled it out in five minutes,”she said.

“With the beaches as well, this is a growing movement. We are the ones advocating for the bins, for a different waste strategy that works.”

Cllr Peter O’Brien with his niece and nephew. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy
Cllr Peter O’Brien with his niece and nephew. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy
Hundreds of volunteers, in 11 different groups between Ringsend and Tallaght, gathered along the river on Saturday for the annual Dodder Action clean-up
Hundreds of volunteers, in 11 different groups between Ringsend and Tallaght, gathered along the river on Saturday for the annual Dodder Action clean-up

Ms White said a culture of helping out was apparent during the lockdown, when people went out of the way to clean up mess left behind by others.

Labour councillor Peter O’Brien brought his niece Olivia (7) and nephew Sam (10) to join the effort in Milltown.

They quickly filled up a blue bin bag with cans, bottles and discarded sweet wrappers, but the discovery of used syringes was not what one might expect on a stretch of river flanked by some of the most expensive property in the country.

“Dodder Action does great work. It’s a shame it needs the upkeep that it does, but if everybody took responsibility we wouldn ’t need this. The Dodder greenway when it comes on stream will be a fantastic resource.”

Husband and wife Radu and Elena Dimitriu, originally from Romania but living in Milltown, said they wanted to “give something back to the society and to the community.

“We want a clean environment.”

* This article was amended on June 27th, 2021