Ballyalla Lake Blue Flag Working Group
What is it?
Following a public meeting in April 2013 arranged by Cllr. Johnny Flynn at Auburn Lodge attended by nearly 50 persons from environmental, political, residents and other backgrounds, the Ballyalla Blue Flag Working Group was formed in June with chairman Cllr. Johnny Flynn. The aims of the group include Environmental Protection, Accessibility and Usability for locals and tourism and Pursuit for Blue Flag.
What does it mean for you?
Several clean-ups and engagement of town’s people and residents have already started. Bringing the lake back to its former glory (and beyond) will result in an attractive town amenity that in particular in difficult economic times, will allow for give families a welcome place to enjoy at their doorstep.
Following a public meeting in April 2013 arranged by Cllr. Johnny Flynn at Auburn Lodge, Ennis, Co Clare which had a large attendance of nearly 50 persons from environmental, political, residents and other backgrounds, the Ballyalla Blue Flag Working Group was formed in June and a chairperson, secretary and PRO were voted upon. In September of this year, same group organized a successful clean-up of the lake front supported by Ennis Tidy Towns and Ballyalla lake residents.
During the initial meeting, an overwhelming majority of votes were cast for the following four points: 1. Setting up of a Working Group to work with others, particularly local residents and Clare County Council, to sustainably develop the public lands around Ballyalla lake and pursue Blue Flag Status. 2. Ensure appropriate protection of the amenity and improve access & use of the lake. 3. Lobby local politicians in the context of the Ennis & Environs Plan review to get the Planning Authority to carry out an Enhanced Habitat Directive's Assessment (EHDA) of the Lake & surrounding lands and the stretch of Fergus river North & South of Ennis. 4. EHDA screening by the Planning Authority would then indicate to interested groups the appropriate location and type of Development of recreational amenities on the Lake & River.
The Ballyalla Blue Flag Working Group has since discussed these points in more detail and worked toward a list of Short-term and Long-term list of suggestion that will be put forward to the County Council shortly. In the short-term up until the end of 2014, the group is recommending realistic goals for the visible upgrade of the lake frontage, use and access. This area ranges from the clean-up of access routes and views, the re-instatement of public toilets and playground areas, as well as the environmentally-important informational signs and the installation of buoys denoting wild-life areas on the lake. They are also recommending 2013 Winter Firewood project as fuel to low income Ennis households. The group asks the council to consider these items for their 2014 budget.
In late 2013, Ennis Town Council started some work on Ballyalla lake removing scrub to free pathways and open up ‘windows’ in an effort to allow better viewing of the lake from the shores and pathways. Also, work is underway to bring back informational nature signs to the lake. The work is supported by Ennis Tidy Towns and lake residents are always on hand to clean-up after any works.
The traditional Ennis bathing location Ballyalla Lake beach, one of Clare's 11 designated Beaches, has got the all clear for bathing quality of water for 2014. The Lake achieved the top category of "good water quality " based on samples taken in 2013 bathing season up from previous years grading of "Sufficient water quality " .
The Ballyalla Lake Working Group was formed in 2013 to work with residents, the Council, Tidy Towns ,and environmental groups to improve the access , quality and use of the amenity . Cllr Johnny Flynn Chair of that group said " this is great news for people who want to use the lake in a sustainable way and obviously for the significant amount wildlife Ballyalia Lake is home to. We got great assistance from a wide range of people over the last year for projects such as the clean ups and cutting back of scrub . The Council placed an increased emphasis on the lakeshore area last year when they worked with various groups to enhance it. "
At the May 2014 Ennis Town Council meeting there was wide support for the allocation of €25,765 specific funding for Water Based Leisure Facilities at Ballyalia Lake. " I warmly welcomed this funding which is to be spent in 2014 at Ballyalla Lake and also the specific funding of €22,697 also allocated for Rocky Road Amenity Scheme which will improve the usage of this ancient public right of way to the West of Ennis near the New National School " Cllr Flynn added.
An information board detailing the 26 bird species to be found at Ballyalla Lake was reinstated in the new year after it was vandalised and fell into disrepair some years ago. Originally painted in 1994 as an acrylic on wood by Newmarket-on-Fergus based painter and bird watcher Philip Brennan. The work was supported by Ennis Tidy Towns.