Tralee Rowing Club Wins National Heritage Award

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Tralee Rowing Club’s Heidi Giles (club captain) Dr Noel Mulligan , Billy Giles , Evie Giles, Tania Lawlor, Paul Cusack and Celine Cusack with the award.

TRALEE Rowing Club took the County Award for Kerry at the National Heritage Awards  2021.

The announcement was made by the Heritage Council at its online Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, October 20.

The Rowing Club’s winning project featured an online presentation and an outdoor display mounted at the Tralee Ship Canal Marina during Heritage Week in August subtitled. ‘What Lies Beneath’.

Continued below…


An Ecological Investigation of the Tralee Ship Canal was undertaken by local ecologist, Dr Noel Mulligan working with Aquafact International Services.

The Rowing Club wondered what type of wildlife shared the canal with its membersas they rowed along its surface.

Its curiosity was prompted by the discovery by Dr Mulligan of a large population of Australian Tubeworm.

It was a case of finding out what else lay beneath the surface of the canal water. The investigation revealed some very interesting findings. Particularly worrying was the extent to which the tubeworm was taking over.

Dr Mulligan said; “I had first noticed what turned out to be an unusual invasive alien species, the Australian Tubeworm. My investigation uncovered acommunity of organisms living along the length of the canal’. The Rowing Club community comprising about 100 members was able to attract Local Authorities Water Programme funding to engage Aquafact to undertake the study.

“When I approached the Rowing Club to see if they were interested in the study of the ecology of the canal that I was proposing, members were very supportive. They assisted me with the Heritage Week Project online presentation and the outdoor display,” Noel said.

The investigation provides a valuable baseline against which the ecology of the canal can be monitored into the future. “We discovered that the canal is a brackish water habitat (a mixture of freshwater and seawater) that supports an interesting collection of species, one of which is the very abundant Australian Tubeworm,” said outgoing Treasurer, Celine Cusack.

Alongside the Australian Tubeworm is the New Zealand Mud Snail and 20+ other species but the canal basin itself is dominated by the tubeworm.

All the hard surfaces in the canal basin are covered to the exclusion of other brackish water species that would otherwise be present.

It will be very interesting to see if the upcoming draining of the canal for three months will eliminate the unwanted invasive alien tubeworm.

Dr Mulligan said; “The works on the canal road presents an ideal opportunity to follow up on the Rowing Club’s work with a monitoring programme to see how the canal will be repopulated after the it is refilled.”

“We may see the unwanted return of the tubeworm but hopefully it will have been successfully eradicated and the canal will be occupied again by a community of native brackish water species.”

Heidi Giles , TRC Club Captain said; “We in the Rowing Club know that we have a unique amenity here that we share with the people of Tralee and with visitors. We await eagerly the refilling of the canal so that our members can get back on the water again in the New Year.”

“We would also like to see the biodiversity of the canal return to its natural state once the tubeworm has been eradicated”.

Dr Mulligan said he hoped that the ideal opportunity that the draining of the canal provides to monitor the impact on the wildlife is not missed.

“Hopefully the funding can be found to allow us undertake this important research,” he said.  “We need to understand how the tubeworm in particular is affected and a monitoring programme is the ideal way to do this”.

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