Source to Sea

The Story

Over the past 20 years, along the River Lee from its source to the sea, nine different peoples-campaigns have raged against the system. These campaigns relate to our natural heritage and its preservation for future generations to enjoy. During the Cork Harbour Festival of 2017 the seed was sown for the Source To Sea project concept. As a student of conservation science and co-founder of the Climate Collective UCL in the UK , Éadin O’Mahony delivered the facts, managed the social media, scripted the online online blog posts on this site, which are very informative and was at hand for different public awareness events.

Over the past 20 years, along the River Lee from its source to the sea, nine different peoples-campaigns have raged against the system. These campaigns relate to our natural heritage and its preservation for future generations to enjoy. During the Cork Harbour Festival of 2017 the seed was sown for the Source To Sea project concept. As a student of conservation science and co-founder of the Climate Collective UCL in the UK , Éadin O’Mahony delivered the facts, managed the social media, scripted the online online blog posts on this site, which are very informative and was at hand for different public awareness events.

This is Gougaunne Barra , the source of Cork’s river Lee. It is idyllic and it is loved. But this precious resource is so harshly impacted by our modern day life styles that we decided to artistically celebrate its magnificence and thereby engage and reconnect as many communities as possible along its journey to the ocean. A pure drop would be taken at source and in olympian fashion carried and celebrated along the river.

This is Gougaunne Barra , the source of Cork’s river Lee. It is idyllic and it is loved. But this precious resource is so harshly impacted by our modern day life styles that we decided to artistically celebrate its magnificence and thereby engage and reconnect as many communities as possible along its journey to the ocean. A pure drop would be taken at source and in olympian fashion carried and celebrated along the river.

Mick Hoey spent 35 years at sea fishing. He is a musician and a specialist on plant-life. He lives idyllically over-looking Cork Harbour. Mick volunteered to scale the mountain and collect the Pure Drop at the source of the Lee.

Mick Hoey spent 35 years at sea fishing. He is a musician and a specialist on plant-life. He lives idyllically over-looking Cork Harbour. Mick volunteered to scale the mountain and collect the Pure Drop at the source of the Lee.

This is a handcrafted Irish oak goblet with a captive ring. Sitting snugly in the hand carved goblet is a custom made glass drop-shaped form designed to carry the drop on its journey.

This is a handcrafted Irish oak goblet with a captive ring. Sitting snugly in the hand carved goblet is a custom made glass drop-shaped form designed to carry the drop on its journey.

George and his wife Helen O’Sullivan who live by the sea at the mouth of Cork Harbour were on board from the get go. Not only did George hand craft the goblet, he designed and crafted the housing to protect the pure drop holder.

George and his wife Helen O’Sullivan who live by the sea at the mouth of Cork Harbour were on board from the get go. Not only did George hand craft the goblet, he designed and crafted the housing to protect the pure drop holder.

Helen admires the goblet and was instrumental at the early design phases. Her design advice and culinary gifts were critical.

Helen admires the goblet and was instrumental at the early design phases. Her design advice and culinary gifts were critical.

Rory Leadbetter is a master glass blower from Kilkenny. He delighted in the challenge to blow the perfect glass form that would safely contain the pure drop of the Lee.

Rory Leadbetter is a master glass blower from Kilkenny. He delighted in the challenge to blow the perfect glass form that would safely contain the pure drop of the Lee.

Moment of truth ! George tests the height and stability of the goblet and glass drop entering the housing for the very first time.

Moment of truth ! George tests the height and stability of the goblet and glass drop entering the housing for the very first time.

Every aspect of how to transport the Pure Drop of The Lee River, down through its complex topography, was taken into consideration. Using only recycled materials engineer and design maestros Johnny Ryan and Roy Noonan set about a multi-functional celebratory carrier.

Every aspect of how to transport the Pure Drop of The Lee River, down through its complex topography, was taken into consideration. Using only recycled materials engineer and design maestros Johnny Ryan and Roy Noonan set about a multi-functional celebratory carrier.

Once these guys heard the message of the Pure Drop Journey , there was no stopping them.

Once these guys heard the message of the Pure Drop Journey , there was no stopping them.

Johnny Ryan adding the final touches to the Wanderlee, fit for all weather, all ages and any terrain .

Johnny Ryan adding the final touches to the Wanderlee, fit for all weather, all ages and any terrain .

Johnny Ryans inventive nature and sense of humour is second to none.

Johnny Ryans inventive nature and sense of humour is second to none.

Roy Noonan can turn his hand to anything. The greater the challenge the better the result !

Roy Noonan can turn his hand to anything. The greater the challenge the better the result !

Pure Drop begins its journey , departing the chapel at Gougaunne Barra lake after a multilayered performance ceremony of poetry , original musial compositions, rap, contemporary dance. A short video of the performances can be viewed under the VIDEOS link.

Pure Drop begins its journey , departing the chapel at Gougaunne Barra lake after a multilayered performance ceremony of poetry , original musial compositions, rap, contemporary dance. A short video of the performances can be viewed under the VIDEOS link.

Ballingeary is the first major town along the Lee and it is a Gaeltacht area steeped in Irish history and lore. The Lynch family live directly on Lough Allua and gave the pure drop the warmest of welcomes in their home.

Ballingeary is the first major town along the Lee and it is a Gaeltacht area steeped in Irish history and lore. The Lynch family live directly on Lough Allua and gave the pure drop the warmest of welcomes in their home.

Gathering pace along the shores of Lough Allua , a stop at the Paudeen river, famous as the spawning ground for the Lee Wild Atlantic Salmon before the hydro dams further downstream were built in 1957. This was a special picnic celebration with a third generation farmer who revealed some age old secrets of the Lee.

Gathering pace along the shores of Lough Allua , a stop at the Paudeen river, famous as the spawning ground for the Lee Wild Atlantic Salmon before the hydro dams further downstream were built in 1957. This was a special picnic celebration with a third generation farmer who revealed some age old secrets of the Lee.

This is a rare fresh water pearl mussel. They live to be 125 years of age in the same stream and are fully dependent on the wild atlantic salmon to enable their reproduction. This has survived due to the protection measures and the absence of chemicals which this local farmer insists upon.

This is a rare fresh water pearl mussel. They live to be 125 years of age in the same stream and are fully dependent on the wild atlantic salmon to enable their reproduction. This has survived due to the protection measures and the absence of chemicals which this local farmer insists upon.

Freshly caught fish are prepared en route by Mick Hoey, who’s knowledge of the outdoors, plants, fish and wildlife is inspirational. He is now taking small groups on short river excursions, introducing them to plant life, outdoor survival and the importance of re-connecting with nature.

Freshly caught fish are prepared en route by Mick Hoey, who’s knowledge of the outdoors, plants, fish and wildlife is inspirational. He is now taking small groups on short river excursions, introducing them to plant life, outdoor survival and the importance of re-connecting with nature.

The broad expansive lakes of Lough Allua are steeped in history, lore and natural beauty. The town of Inchigeelagh, once a thriving resort for fishing and hunting was majorly disadvantaged due the construction of the Lee Hydro Electric twin dams south of the village. Pride of place is high on the agenda for these community activists. They walked the Wanderlee carrying the Pure Drop along Lough Allua’s shores. Poetry and songs in the Gaelic language were delivered en route as the group met with inquisitive tourists and anglers from different parts of the globe. As the Wanderlee doubles up as a mobile rubbish bin for the #withORwithout part of the project, great credit due to this community as the bin remained empty along the full length of the south lake road. Clean as a whistle!

The broad expansive lakes of Lough Allua are steeped in history, lore and natural beauty. The town of Inchigeelagh, once a thriving resort for fishing and hunting was majorly disadvantaged due the construction of the Lee Hydro Electric twin dams south of the village. Pride of place is high on the agenda for these community activists. They walked the Wanderlee carrying the Pure Drop along Lough Allua’s shores. Poetry and songs in the Gaelic language were delivered en route as the group met with inquisitive tourists and anglers from different parts of the globe. As the Wanderlee doubles up as a mobile rubbish bin for the #withORwithout part of the project, great credit due to this community as the bin remained empty along the full length of the south lake road. Clean as a whistle!

All the way from California, these cyclists were enthralled at the sight of the Pure Drop entourage and duly entertained by local historian, hotelier, artist, singer and community arts festival organiser Joe Creedon. This part of the lake has an ancient man-made island called a crannóg. It lies on the ancient boundary between the large early medieval kingdoms of Uí Echach Mumhan to the south and Muscraige Mittine to the north. Upriver lies Inchigeelagh ‘River Strand of the hostages’. This lake, like many lakes in Ireland, abounded in brown trout , arctic char and wild Atlantic salmon. What is the reality of “wildness” we sell so well to the world?

All the way from California, these cyclists were enthralled at the sight of the Pure Drop entourage and duly entertained by local historian, hotelier, artist, singer and community arts festival organiser Joe Creedon. This part of the lake has an ancient man-made island called a crannóg. It lies on the ancient boundary between the large early medieval kingdoms of Uí Echach Mumhan to the south and Muscraige Mittine to the north. Upriver lies Inchigeelagh ‘River Strand of the hostages’. This lake, like many lakes in Ireland, abounded in brown trout , arctic char and wild Atlantic salmon. What is the reality of “wildness” we sell so well to the world?

An unusual detour for the Pure Drop of The Lee as the Climate Collective, a climate-change social initiative based in London (www.theclimatecollective.org), invited Source To Sea to an international presentation on Environmental Protection in the Embassy of El Salvador, London. The title of this event “Vulnerabilities : climate change exploration” : human and ecological communities disproportionately affected by climate change. These brilliant dedicated environmentalists staged a wonderful event to mark their four years of study in one of the leading universities in the world. They wanted their voices for the protection of the planet to be heard and their work individually and collectively continues across the globe.  It was an honour to share the stage with Kate Metcalf, co director of Women’s Environmental Network London. With 20 years' experience delivering participatory training, developing community networks and project management , she has worked in international development organisations promoting gender equality in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

An unusual detour for the Pure Drop of The Lee as the Climate Collective, a climate-change social initiative based in London (www.theclimatecollective.org), invited Source To Sea to an international presentation on Environmental Protection in the Embassy of El Salvador, London. The title of this event “Vulnerabilities : climate change exploration” : human and ecological communities disproportionately affected by climate change. These brilliant dedicated environmentalists staged a wonderful event to mark their four years of study in one of the leading universities in the world. They wanted their voices for the protection of the planet to be heard and their work individually and collectively continues across the globe.

It was an honour to share the stage with Kate Metcalf, co director of Women’s Environmental Network London. With 20 years' experience delivering participatory training, developing community networks and project management , she has worked in international development organisations promoting gender equality in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Professor Anson Mackay is a professor at the Environmental Change Research Centre and the Palaeoclimate Research Group within the Department of Geography at UCL. Globally, water quality has deteriorated rapidly since the 19th century, while water quantity is especially vulnerable in semi-arid regions. This has led to almost 80% of the world’s population being exposed to substantial water security threats.  For over 20 years Anson has worked on assessing human and climatic impacts on some of the world’s most important freshwater ecosystems, including Lake Bailkal and the Aral Sea in central Asia, and the Okavango Delta in southern Africa.  The meeting was chaired by El Salvadorian artist Mayra Barraza who gave an overview of how a diverse range of artists in her home country are engaged with the environmental dilemmas they currently encounter. All proceeds from the event were donated to “FUNDEMAC”, a charity organization promoting community engagement, sustainable agriculture and environmental awareness with 133 communities across 91 different projects in El Salvador. You can find out more about their work and engage with their efforts here:  www.fundemac.org .

Professor Anson Mackay is a professor at the Environmental Change Research Centre and the Palaeoclimate Research Group within the Department of Geography at UCL. Globally, water quality has deteriorated rapidly since the 19th century, while water quantity is especially vulnerable in semi-arid regions. This has led to almost 80% of the world’s population being exposed to substantial water security threats.
For over 20 years Anson has worked on assessing human and climatic impacts on some of the world’s most important freshwater ecosystems, including Lake Bailkal and the Aral Sea in central Asia, and the Okavango Delta in southern Africa.

The meeting was chaired by El Salvadorian artist Mayra Barraza who gave an overview of how a diverse range of artists in her home country are engaged with the environmental dilemmas they currently encounter. All proceeds from the event were donated to “FUNDEMAC”, a charity organization promoting community engagement, sustainable agriculture and environmental awareness with 133 communities across 91 different projects in El Salvador. You can find out more about their work and engage with their efforts here: www.fundemac.org.

The view from the Causeway looking towards the manmade reservoir (very often mis-interpreted as a scenic lake !) which feeds the unmanned 8 Megawatt hydro power station. Theses are the frozen stumps of a precious ancient woodland and natural flood barrier. Many of the worlds top woodland specialists, live in hope that this river forest delta will one day be allowed to grow back to its natural state. It is genetically intact and therefore can recover once the water levels of the man made reservoir are dropped to natural levels. In honour of those families that lost their homes and farms here in the mid 1950’s the Pure Drop of The Lee passed by the Gearagh in deep silence.

The view from the Causeway looking towards the manmade reservoir (very often mis-interpreted as a scenic lake !) which feeds the unmanned 8 Megawatt hydro power station. Theses are the frozen stumps of a precious ancient woodland and natural flood barrier. Many of the worlds top woodland specialists, live in hope that this river forest delta will one day be allowed to grow back to its natural state. It is genetically intact and therefore can recover once the water levels of the man made reservoir are dropped to natural levels. In honour of those families that lost their homes and farms here in the mid 1950’s the Pure Drop of The Lee passed by the Gearagh in deep silence.

This aerial view of the Gearagh gives us a glimpse of one of Irelands most unique natural features. It is an inland river forest delta that carries the SPECIAL AREA OF CONSERVATION status fought for by local environmentalists for over 25 years. Hundreds of indigenous ancient oaks and yews were cut down 1954-57 and multiple farmsteads were lost to enable the construction of the second hydro dam at CarriganDroichead. The Source To Sea team disagree with anyone entering this wilderness area for pleasure and personal exploration. The battle for its preservation is ongoing.

This aerial view of the Gearagh gives us a glimpse of one of Irelands most unique natural features. It is an inland river forest delta that carries the SPECIAL AREA OF CONSERVATION status fought for by local environmentalists for over 25 years. Hundreds of indigenous ancient oaks and yews were cut down 1954-57 and multiple farmsteads were lost to enable the construction of the second hydro dam at CarriganDroichead. The Source To Sea team disagree with anyone entering this wilderness area for pleasure and personal exploration. The battle for its preservation is ongoing.

In the shadows of the iconic Carrigandroichead Castle the Pure Drop was welcomed by the dedicated community volunteers of this historic town. On behalf of the group Rita O’Brien uncovered from her extensive files a poem written in 1938 by Denis Lehane , known as the ‘Grey King’, about the Lee from source to sea. Rita read the poem with passion as the sun set and the history of this magical river repeated itself eighty years later.

In the shadows of the iconic Carrigandroichead Castle the Pure Drop was welcomed by the dedicated community volunteers of this historic town. On behalf of the group Rita O’Brien uncovered from her extensive files a poem written in 1938 by Denis Lehane , known as the ‘Grey King’, about the Lee from source to sea. Rita read the poem with passion as the sun set and the history of this magical river repeated itself eighty years later.

The youngest Corkonian to engage with the project, with deep family connections to the River Lee and its literary culture. Here granddaughter Réidin and great-granddaughter Ziggy, of the poet and professor of Irish, Séan O’Tuama. Ziggy investigated the goblet and then full of zest made her way with the family to the source at Gougaunne Barra for a natural baptising ceremony. Réidin, a teacher and puppeteer, read some of Séan’s poems scripted on the banks of the Lee. A bench dedicated to this Irish poet was erected by his family Leeside after he passed away in 2016. This was his favourite place on earth. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.

The youngest Corkonian to engage with the project, with deep family connections to the River Lee and its literary culture. Here granddaughter Réidin and great-granddaughter Ziggy, of the poet and professor of Irish, Séan O’Tuama. Ziggy investigated the goblet and then full of zest made her way with the family to the source at Gougaunne Barra for a natural baptising ceremony. Réidin, a teacher and puppeteer, read some of Séan’s poems scripted on the banks of the Lee. A bench dedicated to this Irish poet was erected by his family Leeside after he passed away in 2016. This was his favourite place on earth. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.

A month has passed and much water has flowed from the source of the Lee. June 12th 2018 and the Pure Drop arrives at the magnificent Saint Finbarres Cathedral. Historically believed to be where the saint after travelling from Gougaunne Barra sept up the first sacred community dwelling. The Dean , his team , the girls and boys choir, the organist and the protestant community of the Cathedral staged a ceremony of music , singing and liturgical readings that deeply touched the hearts of all who attended. This was truly a celebration of Mother Natures gifts to humanity of clean water, clean soil and clean air. Sincere thanks to each and every person who contributed generously to the Source To Sea project. Beir Bua go léir agus beimíd arais arís.

A month has passed and much water has flowed from the source of the Lee. June 12th 2018 and the Pure Drop arrives at the magnificent Saint Finbarres Cathedral. Historically believed to be where the saint after travelling from Gougaunne Barra sept up the first sacred community dwelling. The Dean , his team , the girls and boys choir, the organist and the protestant community of the Cathedral staged a ceremony of music , singing and liturgical readings that deeply touched the hearts of all who attended. This was truly a celebration of Mother Natures gifts to humanity of clean water, clean soil and clean air. Sincere thanks to each and every person who contributed generously to the Source To Sea project. Beir Bua go léir agus beimíd arais arís.

The top photograph here was taken of American sculptor Tamsie Ringler’s metal pouring of the River Lee summer 2018. It is symbolic as a photographic image of how our team interpret the deep demise of our natural resource. The bottom shot is an image of the original map constructed of the Lee, source to sea, for the documentary film RIVER RUNNER 2014. It has been graphically modified to highlight the number of active campaigns diverse communities along the Lee continue to stage against the authorities.

The top photograph here was taken of American sculptor Tamsie Ringler’s metal pouring of the River Lee summer 2018. It is symbolic as a photographic image of how our team interpret the deep demise of our natural resource. The bottom shot is an image of the original map constructed of the Lee, source to sea, for the documentary film RIVER RUNNER 2014. It has been graphically modified to highlight the number of active campaigns diverse communities along the Lee continue to stage against the authorities.

The chapel at Gougaunne Barra was an ideal platform for music, song, poetry readings and dance to begin the celebratory journey of the pure drop . Attending this celebration were many individuals who are deeply involved in protecting our natural heritage. There were several un-sung heroes who continue to put their existences before the courts of Éire in pleas of protection for the hills, lakes and streams of the Lee Valley. Dedicated community activists, who professionally support disadvantaged groups in our society, by engaging them with the wonders of Nature. Artists , anglers, organic farmers, choreographers, singer song writers, rappers, boat builders..one and all it was a day to remember.

The chapel at Gougaunne Barra was an ideal platform for music, song, poetry readings and dance to begin the celebratory journey of the pure drop . Attending this celebration were many individuals who are deeply involved in protecting our natural heritage. There were several un-sung heroes who continue to put their existences before the courts of Éire in pleas of protection for the hills, lakes and streams of the Lee Valley. Dedicated community activists, who professionally support disadvantaged groups in our society, by engaging them with the wonders of Nature. Artists , anglers, organic farmers, choreographers, singer song writers, rappers, boat builders..one and all it was a day to remember.

‘Anseo i lár an ghleanna’ is an old Irish poem scripted about the dark days of our history on the Lee when local catholics were forbidden to practice their religion and speak their native language. At this ‘mass rock’ near Inchigeelagh a marvellous rendition of the poem was delivered by Máiread Ní Shuibhne in celebration of the waters of the Lee and the freedom it deserves for all generations to come. Another moment of magic.

‘Anseo i lár an ghleanna’ is an old Irish poem scripted about the dark days of our history on the Lee when local catholics were forbidden to practice their religion and speak their native language. At this ‘mass rock’ near Inchigeelagh a marvellous rendition of the poem was delivered by Máiread Ní Shuibhne in celebration of the waters of the Lee and the freedom it deserves for all generations to come. Another moment of magic.

From Macroom to Belfast , Glasheen to Duthallow, Germany to Gouganne, wetting the whistle after the ceremonials is simply a grand global tradition. With senior council members of the Go - Green Bons Secours, community arts festival Féile Dúthalla and Meithal Mara at the celebration, The Deoch an Laoi was well toasted.

From Macroom to Belfast , Glasheen to Duthallow, Germany to Gouganne, wetting the whistle after the ceremonials is simply a grand global tradition. With senior council members of the Go - Green Bons Secours, community arts festival Féile Dúthalla and Meithal Mara at the celebration, The Deoch an Laoi was well toasted.

The unexpected on any journey enriches the moment and as the tall ship training vessel Danmark sailed in its glory into Bantry Bay, the Source To Sea team were invited to climb aboard. On their 105th voyage and with one solitary trainee Irish female sailor, Nell O’Mahony, the message of clean water and the Pure Drop was taken to heart by a most gracious and celebratory crew. This Danish module of education is exemplary. www.mitmartec.dk Alt er got ombord !

The unexpected on any journey enriches the moment and as the tall ship training vessel Danmark sailed in its glory into Bantry Bay, the Source To Sea team were invited to climb aboard. On their 105th voyage and with one solitary trainee Irish female sailor, Nell O’Mahony, the message of clean water and the Pure Drop was taken to heart by a most gracious and celebratory crew. This Danish module of education is exemplary. www.mitmartec.dk Alt er got ombord !

An ugly reminder of the enemy we are out to conquer. There is no excuse for discarding rubbish into our closed and decimated water system. This is HAZARDOUS WASTE and it has to STOP.

An ugly reminder of the enemy we are out to conquer. There is no excuse for discarding rubbish into our closed and decimated water system. This is HAZARDOUS WASTE and it has to STOP.

If a visually impaired person could see how sighted people discard their waste and rubbish into the pristine waters that we drink, what impression would it leave upon them . Pat Walsh is a local historian, a musician and co-ordinator of the visually impaired hill walkers in Cork City. He generously contributed his time to the Source To Sea project. Here is a quote from him relating to his walking group who have been involved in river clean ups in the city. “Some of our walkers are are blind from birth. You can help them by trying to bring back memories and sounds are great for that. So when we walk by rivers the sounds of the river and birds make it come to life for the visually impaired walkers”. Before the Source To Sea team got a chance to explain to Pat the project idea he mentioned the following : “ I always stop when I am crossing over the Lee, to listen to her music….” Says it all Pat!

If a visually impaired person could see how sighted people discard their waste and rubbish into the pristine waters that we drink, what impression would it leave upon them . Pat Walsh is a local historian, a musician and co-ordinator of the visually impaired hill walkers in Cork City. He generously contributed his time to the Source To Sea project. Here is a quote from him relating to his walking group who have been involved in river clean ups in the city. “Some of our walkers are are blind from birth. You can help them by trying to bring back memories and sounds are great for that. So when we walk by rivers the sounds of the river and birds make it come to life for the visually impaired walkers”. Before the Source To Sea team got a chance to explain to Pat the project idea he mentioned the following : “ I always stop when I am crossing over the Lee, to listen to her music….” Says it all Pat!