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Royal Canal urban biodiversity walk for Phizzfest

There was a great turnout for the walk on Sunday the 12th of May during the Phizzfest weekend. Thanks so much to everyone who booked tickets. The walk sold out a few weeks in advance and it was lovely to see the level of interest in such an vital part of Dublin's ecology. A big thanks to the organisers of Phizzfest for the inclusion in their packed weekend programme.

A map was created for the walk and shared with the group to highlight some of the many plants and animals around the canal in May. Some that can be harder to spot — particularly on a morning walk — are Otters and Bats due to their nocturnal nature. Water is life and the canal provides that in abundance.

Some of the impressive flowering plants include the beautiful Hawthorn or 'May Bush'. It plays a big part in Irish folklore with it's many associations with faery folk and the 'other world'. Other vibrant and important pollinator-dependent flowering plants include Yellow Flag Iris, Cow Parsley and Lady's Smock/Cuckoo Flower. The walk began at Crossguns Bridge and concluded at Lock 7.

Map available to download below:

Map Royal Canal PVTT May 2024 for print
Download PDF • 646KB

The map also shows locations of the often overlooked rare plants and animals living in the canal including the endangered Glutinous Snail, Hydravore Water Beetle and Clustered Stonewort located in Lock 6.

We were also delighted to be joined on the walk by special guest Stephen Shanahan from Connecting Cabra. He does amazing work and has an incredible knowledge of wildlife and expertise in plant ID. Stephen has been hugely involved in many projects including an amazing wildlife pond for Cabra, increasing biodiversity in multiple initiatives across greater Dublin 7 and also the launch of a big Swift project to help support this Red Listed species.

Fortunately, the weather was kind and the group got to see some lovely examples of flowering Hawthorn, Yellow Flag Iris, Speedwell, Lady's Smock/Cuckoo Flower, Plantain, Vetch and Cow Parsley along with an Orange-Tip Butterfly, Moorhen, lots of bumblebees and even a Swallow at the end of the walk at Lock 7 for good measure.

Yellow Flag Iris (pictured) comes into bloom for a relatively short time and it's the only native Iris in Ireland. It's an important plant for wild bees, dragonflies and damselflies on the Royal Canal.

It's worth a walk along the Royal Canal to see the Iris in bloom. It also features in Irish folklore as a cure for many ailments including rheumatism.

The Royal Canal is clearly an amazing habitat corridor for the city but according to DCC's Biodiversity Action Plan, over 28% of Dublin City's land is in private gardens. If you can incorporate water into your outdoor space, it can really help make a difference to increase biodiversity. Putting in a small pond and growing some plants for pollinators, you can help support our shared urban ecology.

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