Community fishing facility opens in Ballymount Park

By Mary Dennehy

A NEW, inclusive community fishing facility has opened in Ballymount Park, providing an alternative sport for people of all ages and abilities.

After nearly three years of investigations, hard work and planning, South Dublin County Council officially launched the Ballymount Fishing Lake – with support from the Killinarden Angling Initiative (KAI) and Inland Fisheries Ireland.

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David Farrell (SDCC), Chris Delaney (KAI), Patrick Ryan (KAI), Des Chew (IFI), Stephen O'Flanagan (KAI), Brian Beckett (IFI), front; Teresa Walsh (SDCC), Deputy Mayor Cathal King, Cllr Dermot Richardson, Mary Maguire (SDCC) and Cllr Charlie O' Connor 

Having grown from grassroots level, the voluntary Killinarden Angling Initiative was originally established in 2014 to reach out to young people living in Tallaght and its surrounding communities – offering them the chance to learn about and enjoy angling while also engaging in educational workshops on topics such as alcohol and drug prevention.

However, over the years, the award-winning initiative has grown to include people of all ages, with one of its initiatives for adults, Angling for Mental Health and Suicide Awareness, granted funding by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

KAI also works with a diverse selection of local groups, including those which provide support for children on the autism spectrum.

According to Mary Maguire, Senior Executive Officer with the council’s Environment, Water and Climate Change: “The council is very excited to have been working with Killinarden Angling Initiative and Inland Fisheries Ireland towards the development of the community fishing facility in Ballymount Park.

“KAI first approached the council nearly three years ago with a view to providing angling programmes for youths and adults who were not into mainstream sports, and for others who could benefit from passive activity.”

Speaking with The Echo, Killinarden resident Patrick Ryan, who is one of the co-founders of KAI, said: “This is fantastic news for the community.

“Angling is a sport anybody can participate in, there are no boundaries.

“Hundreds of people have come through the initiative and this facility will open up angling to even more people and groups.”

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Deputy Mayor Cathal King with Gerry Conaty (IFI) at the lake in Ballymount Park, which is located to the back of Kingswood

He added: “People don’t always see the benefits in angling but it is a very inclusive sport and is great for mindfulness – also there is no technology.

“We also teach people about the ecology of the lake, the habitat of fish and what happens under the water.

“Participants learn about the environment and how to leave no trace.”

'Catch and release'

KAI will initially operate the fishing facility on an annual allocation basis, with all anglers at the lake signing up as members of the initiative and its Code of Conduct.

There are 12 authorised delineated fishing points around the lake, with all anglers observing a strict policy of ‘catch and release’.

According to the council, Inland Fisheries Ireland has also been “very influential” in progressing the facility, which will be used for both workshops and casual fishing.

“The council is particularly indebted to Des Chew for his advice in the preparation of the lake for use as a community angling facility and for ensuring the facility is stocked with coarse fish, including rudd and perch,” Ms Maguire said.

“It is envisaged that into the future, the facility may be used by other authorised angling groups who present to the council with proposals for similar community based angling initiatives.”

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The new facility in Ballymount Park

Tallaght South councillor Cathal King (Sinn Fein), who has been working on the project since the early days, told The Echo: “KAI is one of the most innovative groups I have ever worked with and I’m really excited about the opening.

“It’s great that children and adults can now go fishing in their own community, and can cycle their bike, walk or catch a bus rather than having to travel out of their area.

“[KAI] is constantly looking to benefit the community and link in with groups and we’ll now be looking at how we can widen this out to support others.”

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