Inaugural General Meeting

The Swords Woodland Association Inaugural General Meeting took place on Monday 25th of February 2019 at the Carnegie Court Hotel. The event was a great success and extremely well attended by very interested people.

Among the items discussed were the aims and potential of the Association. Links that have already been made with Fingal County Council and the DAA. Also a discussion on the new constitution and a presentation of the accounts.

The new constitution was approved and an election of the new committee took place.

  • Chairperson - Gerry White
  • Secretary - Myles Caulfield
  • Treasurer - John Drinane

The Association AGM will take place this coming November.

Destruction of Ushers Wood

An SWA Ambassador has brought to our attention that the Ushers Lake area of Ward River Valley Park has been vandalised. As you can imagine we are completely appalled by such behaviour. We immediately contacted the Senior Parks Superintendent of Fingal County Council to ask if he could rectify the situation. He did reply to say that although the council have reached an agreement with the current owner of the area in relation to the transfer of these lands, it is not yet complete and therefore the council are unable to address this matter for now. But he did say that they will address the situation as soon as the transfer has been completed. Below is the original post from our Facebook page and also a message received from the council by Cllr Joe Newman.

Post and photographs by Brian M Whelan

‘Have not been down the valley for a while with my camera. To tell you the truth I am shocked and saddened at the amount of vandalism that has happened in the wake of the concrete structure been taken down by the council. Soon it appears there will be nothing left but bottles, cans and rubble in the river. All of the old structures are being interfered with, bricks pulled out of the underside of bridges, soil removed. Someone needs to act now, Trees have been felled with axes and chainsaws too.’

Cllr Joe Newman:

I have had a conversation with the officials in the council responsible for the park and its environs, The transfer of ownership of these lands are going through a legal process at this point of time so the council do not own this land yet. The council intend to develop this area in a sensitive manner and hope to restore historical structures to their original state. In the meantime it would be in the national interest if residents would keep and eye on this area and report any destruction of historical structures to the Gardai in the first instance. I will convey any issues of concern to the council officials and I will be working to ensure the immediate preservation of this area.

Wildlife Photographs

Have you observed the birds or wildlife that currently reside in the Ward River area or it’s environs?

If so we’d love to hear from you, especially if you have taken any photographs. Please email your photographs and information to and we will display the best of them here and throughout the site.

We’re delighted with the response so far!

Ken Doyle

Everyone who knew one of our founding members Ken Doyle never doubted his deep esteem for Nature. He exuded the innate understanding of how living in an urban setting could profit from that connection. And in that sense the word profit has never been more agreeable. He had no doubt that forestry and woodlands are intrinsic to a healthier community.

His frequent grandfatherly excursions to amenities like Howth or Malahide Castle attest to his determination to make Nature a normal part of life. Ken was also deeply interested in how the public could have a stake in land use policy and decisions. That ethos has become a key objective of this Association which he helped create.

And of course it’s impossible to ignore his great fondness for golf which was rooted in well being and a greening of his day to day existence.

Ken was always involved in projects to educate, which was made simpler because of his incredible ability to connect with others. He contributed to policy with the Green Party and was a long-time activist with the Woodland League, in particular the campaign to save our publicly owned forests when they were targeted by the Troika in 2011.

For the past several years Ken also worked on another aspect of public life. This was his remarkable commitment to care for the elderly in the North Dublin Bay area that he knew and loved. A great friend of his from that area, Dublin City Councillor John Lyons, has shared his recollections:

“Can you make it now? Are you sure? I want to introduce to a few people, you’ll enjoy it, they’re great people.” A “Golden Years” Christmas party in a north Dublin hotel at the end of 2015 organised by the Darndale Belcamp Village Centre saw Ken move around the entire room chatting and laughing with so many of the patrons of the Golden Years service that Ken was involved with, a vital community service that provides free home maintenance, local transport and day-care services for the older residents of Darndale and Belcamp. As their local People Before Profit councillor Ken was determined that I connect with as many people as possible.

It was obvious to all there that afternoon how much affection they had for Ken, and how much fun he had with them. When he involved himself in a project or campaign, Ken gave it his all, his enthusiasm, passion and dedication were genuinely inspiring. It is important to say, however, with regard to his work with the elderly of Dublin 17, there was also a raw anger at a political system and class of politician that had impacted and continued to impact negatively upon so many in the area. So there he was in the middle of it helping in the present through his work with the Golden Years service as well as being a dedicated political activist who believed that we could collectively change the world, for the better.

The word betterment sums up the ethos that Ken used to inform his public and private life. He is deeply missed by the family that was the mainspring of his being.

As our organisation builds momentum towards a healthier community blessed with ever better and greener amenities for everyday wellness we shall be putting Ken’s ethos into the heart of Swords.


For Ken Doyle (1951-2017)

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

John Keats

People for Trees celebrate National Tree Week 2018

Shankill Tidy Towns and Crann – Trees for Ireland supported by DLR Parks celebrated National Tree Week – Seachtain Náisiúnta na gCrann – with numerous tree planting ceremonies throughout Shankill during that week.

These tree plantings complemented Shankill’s ‘Trees for All’ project where more than 15,000 trees have been planted there since the project started in 2012. The objective, now exceeded, was to plant one tree for every resident in Shankill (over 13,500).

Crann, an organisation to promote education and awareness around trees and woodlands and an active member of DLR PPN, has partnered DLR on a number of interesting projects in the county. Most recently, Crann partnered with DLR in the tree planting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Stonebridge Public Park in Shankill.

The snow had melted but a cold wind still blew across the park on the 7th March as Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD planted a tree to formally declare the park open.

Swords Woodland Association Celebrates National Tree Week

County Mayor Cllr Mary McCamley met with teachers and pupils from Kilcoskan National School recently at the Atrium at County Hall, Swords.

The school was invited to receive a Biodiversity Certificate from the Mayor in a National Tree Week event sponsored by the Swords Woodland Association (SWA).

Kilcoskan NS has a very remarkable biodiversity system integrated into their school campus, the school recently completed a local tree planting initiative organised by the SWA, which matches the ongoing projects in their curriculum.

The recent project involves a ‘copy nature’ tree nursery box and the ‘Grow a Native Tree locally’ initiative promoted by the woodland association.

The ‘Grow a Native Tree Locally’ Initiative was supported by Fingal County Council and The Dublin Airport Authority Community Fund.

The event was opened by the project organiser Edward Stevenson and local Councillor Joe Newman. The Mayor welcomed everybody to the Atrium before presenting the award certificate.

A special award was made to the family of Ken Doyle who was a founder member of The Swords Woodland Association, sadly Ken passed away last September.

He will be remembered as a positive and dedicated advocate for sustainable urban forestry and green infrastructure.

The Mayor spoke to Ken’s wife Annette and family members who attended the event to accept a commemorative SWA poster/photograph, which was especially designed by SWA member Ronan Lynch.

The Mayor also presented a certificate to Ciaran Caulfield, principal of Kilcoskan Nation School, to recognise the achievement of the teachers and pupils in completing the ‘Grow a Native Locally’ Project.

After receiving the Award, Ciaran Caulfield provided a presentation and explained how biodiversity activities form part of the school’s environment. He stressed the educational values to all students in this whole of school approach. He also thanked The SWA, the Council and DAA for their support.


Pupils and teachers from Kilcoskan NS are pictured with Mayor Mary McCamley and Cllr Joe Newman after receiving their award at County Hall, Swords.

Swords Woodland Biodiversity Project Launched In Schools

A growing number of primary schools in the Swords area are now part of the Forest in a Box biodiversity project.

The project, which has been vigorously promoted by Cllr Joe Newman, saw students learn about many factors related to woodlands, including lessons in carbon mitigation and habitat.

The woodland project is provided free of charge to schools as generous funding has been provided by the Community Fund of Dublin Airport Authority and Fingal County Council.

In March 2018, students at Kilcoskan National School, The Ward, were taking a good look at their Dunemann Box with School principal, Ciarán Caulfield, and the Kilcoskan garden projects supervisor, Grainne

The Forest in a Box is being installed at schools by the Swords Woodland Association, with essential support from The Woodland League. Visiting the school on the day were three members of this new advocacy group, Myles Caulfield (Secretary), Councillor Joe Newman and the project lead Edward Stevenson.

Ciarán Caulfield said:

“The school expanded a few years ago and we had to totally re-arrange our outdoor activities. We came together as a school community and everyone agreed to save a bit of space to make a garden feature. It’s turned out well and we now have two trails with plants from just about every continent and further on it becomes what we call our meadow trail.

While it is a small space we also manage to have a vegetable planter for each class. We have fruiting trees and berries on the perimeter.

We found out about the Woodland Association tree project through one of our teachers, Trish and we were really pleased to see how it was compact, durable and very attractive. It fits in really well our other biodiversity projects. The Forest in a Box project is based on folk knowledge employed by a German forestry consultant who was invited to Ireland very early in the last century. The significant benefits of maintaining links to the natural environment are indisputable. These green projects in our garden space offer the children a lot of positives,”

Pictured at Kilcoskan NS are Cllr Joe Newman and members of Swords Woodland Group, with teachers and pupils as they display their Forest in a Box biodiversity project.

Swords Woodland Association Gains Momentum

A new Swords Woodland Association has been set up to make people aware of the wonderful natural amenities that Swords and its surroundings has to offer.

The idea of a Swords Woodland Association is the brainchild of local councillor, Joe Newman (NP) and he told the County Leader that the idea is gaining momentum, with support from some of his colleagues in the County Council.

He told the County Leader,

“There are huge opportunities for the whole development of urban woodland and fishing and to encourage tourism. This will be a great benefit for the health and wellbeing of the people. This group has come about because of the great resistance to the development at Knocksedan and I believe that this group will be to the fore in representing the community of Swords and it comes at just the right time to ensure that we don’t have urban sprawl, without considering the environment and eco systems and we hope to be a great asset to the County Council in this respect.”

Committee member, Edward Stevenson, who lives in Lusk was very enthusiastic about the idea said,

“I’m very familiar with the recreational facilities that are here with the park and valley, and the Woodland Association is going to try and guarantee that there will be a green belt and that it will be planned and integrated into the housing development as Swords grows in the coming decades. Education and information is very important to the success of the project.”

Fellow member, John Drinane echoed this when he said,

“I’ve been campaigning with the Council for different aspects of the environment over the past number of years and, being from the country myself, I appreciate green areas and having them accessible in your immediate area. For that reason alone, I’m interested in what the Woodland Association is setting out to do. It will only work if we have joined up thinking on it and keeping every stakeholder involved and informed. This is all about wellbeing.”

Another supporter, Ken Doyle said,

“I think the public will get behind us, when they learn all about climate change and why we need to pursue this. While we need houses, we have plans for many houses and an urban forest is needed to counteract this. After all, Swords is growing rapidly and we need our woodlands,”

Cllr Duncan Smith (Lab) is one of the councillors in favour of the association said,

“I am chairperson of the Usher’s Lake Angling Association in Swords and we are progressing with developing the lake, which is located in a beautiful woodland setting into a major amenity. We are hoping to link up with the Woodland Association to expand the public amenities in Swords and we want to see our woodlands protected and grow”.


Pictured are members of the newly formed Swords Woodland Association at Swords Town Park, Ronan Lynch, Gerry White, Ken Doyle, Cllr Duncan Smith, Cllr Joe Newman, Rita O’Sullivan, Jim Malone, Edward Stevenson and John Drinane