This is a picture of The Sandy Hole, showing the river in full flow and the fish ladder installed by Clondalkin Anglers Association to assist fish to get upriver from the ponds downstream.
The image on the left is of a Grey Heron, a native species which breeds in the heronry at the Rose Garden in nearby Corkagh Park.
The next image is of a pair of Mallards, quite commonly seen on the lakes and in in the river. The female is brown and not eye catching, a help to be inconspicuous while sitting on a nest. The male Mallard has much more vivid plumage, a common trait in ducks.
The image on the right is of a Little Egret, a species relatively new to Ireland, having only arrived about 30 years ago from the continent. It originally bred in the south east and is now spreading west and north along the coasts. (Note it's bright yellow feet, which is uses to stir up the river bed and startle small fishes and invertebrates which it then feeds on).
Thanks to Brendan Kneafsey, Clondalkin Camera Club member, for the use of these photographs of the wildlife you can expect to see along the river.
Top Row = Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea, Little Egret, Egretta garzetta, (note it's bright yellow feet!), Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, Nymphalis urticate,
Bottom Row = Blue Tit, Parus caeruleus, Dipper, Cinclus cinclus, Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis.
Thanks to Kevin Keogh, Clondalkin Camera Club member, for the use of these photographs of the birds you can expect to see along the river.
Left to right, Little Egret Egretta garzetta fishing, Little Egret (note his yellow feet) with Grey Heron Ardea cinera in the background for size comparison 60 cms v 95 cms, Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinema.
Bottom picture shows a Dipper Cinclus cinclus
Growing up in Clondalkin, in the 1960s had by far some great advantages over today’s children’s lifestyles. We had back then what seemed the freedom of the world where our landscape and especially our imagination created the excitement for each day. Clondalkin provided a child many exploratory opportunities from investigating ancient castle ruins, old mills to robbing the occasional orchard, fishing two waterways, the Camac River and the Grand Canal. The canal held a very special interest in that it provided many kids some daring challenges like diving off the locks on a hot summer’s day. “There was something magic about that time in our lives. “ Once you had your swim accompanied with your gleeful friends, life felt just grand.
Our Cul De Sac, Laurel Park was like the turning pages of many adventurous stories bourn from books, and the experiences that we took from that made each day very special indeed. Every season like clockwork our role play changed from Cowboys and Indians, to enlisting as cavalry soldiers up in Old Maggie’s Field. Marbles, Pitch and toss, to conkers. Making racing gigs, to creating our own ice rings on the foot paths in the chill winter months, frowned on by many nervous parents as they cautiously navigated themselves to and from the shops relying on garden walls for support.
It was one beautiful summer evening with my father’s invitation when a group of us poured in to the back of his VW panel Van. In the confines of that enclosed interior as both the twin blue side doors slammed shut, we sat there with an excited and buzzed anticipation on the cold metal floor with no seats; the discomfort was no bother to us. This was our adventure into the unknown. Along with me, Horse, Neill Murtagh, Vincent Hegarty and several more neighborhood kids were driven into the unknown. Eventually we arrived at a remote destination somewhere along the Grand Canal. With pinkeen nets and jam jars we excitedly scoured the bank disturbing grasses and vegetation in an effort to seek and capture our prize. Pinkeens swam everywhere like trophies waiting to be won.
As it would happen, Vincent Hegarty would become the evening celebrity as he suddenly lost his balance while stretching out in an attempt to capture a large resting perch with his small net. He fell head first next to a massive tree that arched out and upwards over the water. Vincent’s tumble naturally chose the opposite direction and down he went to accompany his prey while his splayed arms trashed the water grasping desperately for hope. But for my father’s quick response the evening, the circumstances could have had a very different outcome indeed. Rescuing him from the canal my father responded with deftly applied skills. I remember afterwards he lit a large bonfire and dried Vincent’s clothes. This would take the edge of his parent’s thoughts of the seriousness of the danger on seeing their son when he returned home. As we sat in a circle around the flames warming glow Vincent had become our hero and was the center of attention that evening. We on the other hand tried to absorb the potential outcome of what could have occurred had my father’s response been slower. He warned us of the dangers of careless behaviour play acting next to the canal.
We all returned home in one piece, and a little more cautious. Perhaps a wee bit scared having experienced a taste of the seriousness of the evening.
It was the last time my father ever invited any of my friends on a road trip again.
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