Harvest Time Guided Riverbank Walk on Sunday

The Limerick Riverpaths initiative group (previously known as “We love Plassey Riverbank”) lead several clean-up operations, as well as wild flowers sowing on the canal and river bank earlier this year.
Now it’s time to enjoy what the river bank has to offer! We are organising a guided walk followed by a picnic on Sunday, and everybody is welcome!

We will be meeting at 2pm at the old lock on the canal bank – behind Emo petrol station on Clare St.
We will start with a bit of history – Sharon Slater of Limerick’s Life will share stories about the glorious past of the canal.
Maura Turner of Birdwatch Ireland will draw our attention to the birds we might encounter during our walk, and horticulturist Joan Lysaght will open our eyes to the many plants, trees and bushes that grow on the canal and river bank.
We’ll walk by the canal and then by the river up to the junction with the Anglers’ Walk. Softday‘s Mikael Fernstrom and Sean Taylor will help us acquire the magic power of listening to underwater sounds.


On the way back to the Richmond Rugby&Football Club, we’ll look for blackberries and photograph as many hidden treasures as we can.
The berries are for the picnic, and the photos for a Limerick Riverpaths digital treasure chest!
And finally around 4pm, we’ll get back together for a harvest picnic at Richmond RFC. We’ll have the chance to sample each other’s baking while sipping a cup of tea/coffee and chatting about what we’ve seen.

Richmond RFC will be open from us from 1:45pm until 5pm.
Join us anytime, and be prepared for any weather. We’re doing our best to arrange sun;)


Bridges of Limerick Walk

The Bridges of Limerick walk was an event organised by Limerick Local Heroes as a fundraiser for The Irish Cancer Foundation. The walk included a less known area of the city known by the locals as “the Island”, as is it surrounded by the Shannon and the Abbey river. The footpath is excellent for walking, cycling and jogging, but it looks like it is less known to the public.
Here are a few recent images from the walk:

You can also see an animated slideshow of the whole walk on Everytrail .

Tweasure Hunt: A stroll through Limerick city in search of American connections

As part of the 4th of July celebrations in Limerick initiated by the Limerick Local Heroes, we are organising a new Tweasure Hunt on Sunday, 8 July 2012, from 11:00 to 13:30.

The meeting (as well as finish) point is the Zest Café by People’s Park at 11am. This way, you’ll get the opportunity to join the picnic taking place in People’s Park on your return from the “hunt”.

This family-friendly event will be a great opportunity to rediscover our city while looking for names, places and stories that connect Limerick to the U.S.A.

The teams will be made of 2-5 people and each team will need a smartphone  and a Twitter account. Join us even if you don’t have any of these – we’ll find you a team to join on the day!

The participants will be given a map and a set of tasks that will involve finding particular historical plaques, buildings and other places and taking photos, eliciting stories from American “ambassadors” they can meet in the city, and contributing to bring these connections into public awareness.

To get a better idea about what happens during a Tweasure Hunt, check our previous one !

The event is organised by a team of volunteers. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment here!

Looking forward to seeing you there on Sunday the 8th of July!

Digital traces and physical places – our first Tweasure Hunt

The idea of this event goes a long way back. In January, Mairead NiChroinin – theatre artist in residence with the Galway Arts Centre organised two workshops in her area of research: games, theatre and technology. One was dedicated to creating location-based, immersive games and it was run by  Hilary O’Shaughnessy.  As the workshop happened on a Monday, we couldn’t make it to Galway for it.

On February 1st, through the means of a (secret) Facebook group, the idea of a Twitter based treasure hunt – a tweasure hunt – was shared with a few people with an interest and/or experience in urban games. One of them had participated in a Tweasure Hunt organised in Dublin by Damien Mulley and Alexia Golez in January 2010. We met, we discussed about it – the technicalities looked were very simple – a Twitter hashtag – but the “what” and the “where” needed a bit more work. A lot of ideas were thrown into the hat:

  • Sharon Slater’s Limerick’s Life had a lot of interesting material that could be used;
  • Lou Dennehy’s idea of making people connect with some of the city’s storytellers was taken on board;
  • unveiling some less known local stories like the Russel Crowe visit to the Charlie St Georges pub, was another point;
  • we discovered that a UK based crowdsourcing initiative meant to list historical plaques (Open Plaques) already had 59 plaques listed for Limerick, many of them missing a photo;
  • we also wanted to encourage participants to bring a contribution, no matter how small, to life in the city. This is how the idea of erecting temporary plaques came about.

We were supposed to do a test run in March, but unfortunately it didn’t happen – we were all too busy! But because miLKlabs entered the event into the Limerick Life Long Learning Festival, the event was publicized via posters, brochure, radio and various websites – so April 1st 2012 was a fixed date!

The week before, Gabriela, Sharon and Tara met and discussed what needed to be done. Eventually, we decided to hand out a map and a list of clues to each team. They were supposed to accumulate as many points as possible by:

  • taking photos of historical plaques and making one of their own,
  • getting photographed with people involved in the Limerick Tidy Town initiative, and also sharing good and bad aspects encountered on the streets of Limerick; (the dates and times of the two events coincided, so we decided to cooperate, rather than compete!)
  • shooting a photo from the same angle as a historical photo of Limerick from the Limerick’s life archive,
  • taking a photo of a fake plaque planted by us close to a historical one- the date was April 1st, after all!

The idea of making participants meet locals in specific venues to elicit stories that could result in new plaques had to be abandoned – the logistics were getting too complicated!

Initially we wanted to ask the participants to upload their photos to Flickr and tag them so that they could appear on Open Plaques. But taking into consideration that the time was limited, each team was potentially going to produce a photo of each plaque, and the photos were going to contain team mascots, we decided to take this task upon ourselves.

The day before, we went out to check the location of each plaque to be included. Some of the plaques couldn’t be identified (like this one), others were very high up and impossible to read from across the road, and Arthur’s Quay had no less than four historical plaques in four different points of the building – which was a bit confusing for the participants. The final list of plaques to be included and the clues associated were put together during the night that preceded the event through the Facebook group and a shared Google Document.

We didn’t assume the participants would manage to do all these things in two hours – but most of them did! All the photos had to include the team’s mascot (we used stencils found in a stationery shop- an elephant, a butterfly, a train and an aeroplane) and had to be tweeted using the #LmkTH hashtag. The idea of a team logo/mascot (together with other excellent ones) were the result of a brainstorming with Gabriela’s 3rd year students from the Digital Media Design course at the University of Limerick.

On Sunday April 1st, we met at miLKlabs at 11:30am – for tea, cake, registration and a briefing. As people arrived in waves and as Frank (as a member of miLKlabs) volunteered  to mind the entrance door and guide people, some of our instructions (also handed out in a printed form) were never heard.

Forgetting the hashtag or the mascot wasn’t the worst thing though. Our fake plaque (an April Fools play on the Fanning name) was taken away by the first team who found it 😦

Team Elephant was made of two families (four adults and three young kids). They went up to a great start, but by the end of the tour they were slowed down – we assumed it  was the ice cream stop!

Team Butterfly was a family of three – and they literally flew through, securing the win.

Team Train was formed ad-hoc: a lady and a young student who had arrived separately were paired up with Frank, who had a smartphone, a Twitter account and great knowledge of the city. They took off like a rocket, and later discovered us, the monitoring team in Cafe Arabica.

Team Aeroplane was a young couple who created their Twitter account then and there. After two check-ins, they went off the radar and we thought we lost them to the nice weather. It was just a hiccup of the mobile network – in the second hour, their messages poured one after the other, making us dizzy.

The start was given at 12:07pm, and the teams were due back at 2:07pm. We left the Franciscan Friary, where miLKlabs is located, and went to a cafe with wi fi around the corner. We monitored the Twitter feed for the #LmkTH hashtag, also checking the participants’ Twitter feeds. This is how we discovered Team Train was actually ignoring the hashtag and we had to send them a warning. The score was kept on a Google spreadsheet that we shared, so that we can monitor the progress in real time. We tried to encourage the teams on their journey around the city as well.

At 2pm, we went back to miLKlabs to meet the participants. The winning team was announced: Team Butterfly had the best score!

Everybody agreed they had a good time, and we exchanged contact details in order to keep in touch for the next round. Many more plaques to photograph, secret corners of Limerick to unveil and landmarks to discover!

* If you came across interesting historical plaques and you would like to contribute to the Open Plaques repository, check their instructions! The great thing is that although the photo will be posted on your Flickr stream, once you tag it, it will appear on their site! Happy hunting;)

Sustainability and living in a city

“While watching this interview with the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, I wanted to know more about his hedonistic sustainability concept, and I came across his manifesto “Yes is more“. He claims that sustainability doesn’t have to mean renunciation, pain or less comfort, but building cities with sustainability in mind can make life in the city more enjoyable.

Right now, giving up the car and taking the bus, cycling or walking feels like giving up the comfort we grew to enjoy, and facing the caprices of the weather. How to make these alternative choices attractive is still a challenge. Better health due to increased exercise, reconnecting with nature and relearning how to be sociable on streets and footpaths do not seem to have sufficient appeal for most of the people at this point in time. Not having a car is still perceived as a nuisance. It would be great if we could do the same thing the Dutch did, but cycling is not the most fashionable thing at the moment.

The Ranks exhibition open at the Hunt Museum in Limerick allows us a glimpse into the city’s past and features bicycles used by employees to get to work. Helen O’Dwyer’s memories show how prominent these were at the time:

“… We used to always be on our bikes. … I was going mad without my bike now because we all cycled down… That time now there were hundreds cycling down the Dock road..

Can Limerick tap into its past to revive that cycling culture? Let’s hope so!

Smarter Travel Grant for Limerick

Recently, a joint proposal of Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council acting in partnership with the University of Limerick has been granted funding for the next five years to put in practice a wide range of measures and interventions targeted at encouraging people to use more sustainable modes of transport. This opens the way to reflecting upon our travel habits and their implications for the city we live in, to getting inspired by other modern cities, and to get the voice of citizens heard when it comes to changing the face of the city.

For the purpose of the Smarter Travel bid, four zones in the city have been targeted:

This is a presentation of the strategy found on the Limerick City Council website, together with the text of the successful design and several other documents.

We love Plassey riverbank – a well spent Sunday

Yesterday, about 20 people showed up for the canal and riverbank cleanup. We were hoping for some sunshine, but it didn’t happen. At least it didn’t rain!

The meeting point was Richmond Rugby Football Club on the canal bank at 12pm. The Munster Junior League final was on at 2:30pm, and we knew the place was going to get very busy.

People continued to arrive between 12 and 12:30. Miriam Lohan had done an audit of the riverbank and had maps for every group – with the severely littered areas marked on it.

Members of the Clancy Strand Street Feast group brought lovely cakes. Mary from Wildroutes showed us how you can build a nice birdhouse of almost any material. Children  were playing around. A fisherman showed up, wearing high boots, and offered us his help with carrying the rubbish back on the river and on the canal.

Shane Hickey and a few other people from the UL Green Campus initiative came to help, and brought materials left after last year’s  spring clean  with them (pickers, plastic bags).

We also had the support of the City Council Environmental officer, Sinead McDonnell, who helped us getting gloves and plastic bags, and made possible the pick-up of the rubbish this morning.

People spread along the canal and the river. We noticed the work that had been done to prepare the side areas for sowing grass. We tried to avoid them. Miriam cycled up and down, making sure everyone had the proper materials and helping various groups.

It was amazing to see how all the various people belonging to groups across Limerick city and from the neighbourhood came together. The “We love Plassey riverbank” Facebook page was the central point, but this blog post, together with the posters that we placed on the riverbank on Friday and the tiny flyers (actually business cards) also did the job.

We encountered mixed reactions from the people who were walking, jogging and cycling. Some avoided eye contact and didn’t answer to friendly hellos. Others stopped and engaged in a conversation. A lady told us it was the first time she walked there in ages – and she was really impressed.

There were people of several nationalities and backgrounds – together with locals, there were Swedish, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian. Not everybody knew the others in the beginning, but we quickly bonded.

The before and after pictures on our Facebook page show impressive transformations. We felt we really made a difference! The problem was that we ended up with 60+ very heavy bags of rubbish, that we had to carry back to Richmond RFC.

Dan O Neill, Plassey fisherman and hero of the day, ferried all he could fit in his boat.Anthony Furlong, of Limerick City Biodiversity Network  took quite a few of these 60 bags down the path on his bike. The problem was that we only had a wheelbarrow. Most of the bags had to be carried  back – and that was probably the toughest job we had! Asia came to our help with her 3 lovely daughters, carrying heavy bags at the back of the buggy.

When all the bags were brought back to the Richmond club – to be collected on Monday morning, we enjoyed the warm hospitality of the club, getting a cup of tea and a cake and planning the next action.

Note: Brian Leddin, who took part  in the clean-up, has a post on his blog on this event as well. There is also a mention of our action on this local blog.

What happened here? Connecting digital traces and physical places

The Limerick Life Long Learning Festival is taking place this year between the 26th of March and the 1st of April.
We’re planning to run a treasure hunt with a difference, in search of little known places in the city centre, on April 1st. Twitter, Foursquare, web sites and Google maps will be involved in the exploration, and we’re investigating a potential link to Open Plaques.

There will be a test run on Sunday, March 3rd – if you’d like to play early and give us your insights, please get in touch.

The photos above belong to a set posted on Flickr by the National Library of Ireland under a Creative Commons license.

Update: the test run had to be postponed. But we’re going on with the main event planned for April 1st 2012. And no, it’s not a joke:)