Molly Garvey, of the Blarney Street Pollinator Path group, tells us about how a neighbourhood came together to help pollinators in Cork City
It started with a rotten fence. In the second week of the first pandemic lockdown in 2020, a fence fell down and two back gardens in the heart of Cork City were suddenly connected. At the same time, building works were beginning on a neighbouring house and for a short time, all three back gardens were connected. Something happened: the neighbours learned each other’s first names and more wildlife began to arrive in the gardens.
A short Google search showed that Blarney St is both a tarmacadamed road but also a ‘green street’ of back gardens. And so, after many lockdowns, 5km runs and some neighbour bubbling, at the beginning of April 2023 a group of neighbours gathered to create Blarney Street’s first Pollinator Path.
Blarney Street is a diverse community made up of Cork families that have been there for generations; international residents; students who are passing through during their brief years of study; and everything in between. It is on the north side of the city and is connected to the bustling Shandon street, which was once the main road into the city centre from the north of the county.
There are roughly 300 south-facing houses on Blarney St. and most have gardens. The area has a strong history of community action. Blarney St and Surrounding Areas Community Association has supported the community for the last forty years, bringing the area together around sports and social activities, as well as making sure the needs of the area are heard at council level.
The Idea behind the Pollinator Path is simple. All we asked people to do was:
Pick a place
Spray less (pesticides)
The intended outcomes were to connect neighbours around a cause and to provide a pathway for wild pollinators to pass through. To do this, we worked with a local designer, Aaron Ross, to create eco-friendly window stickers. We then organised door-to-door visits over a series of nights to have friendly chats, hand out the stickers and an information leaflet, and invite neighbours to make their garden part of the Pollinator Path.
What was the impact?
“I am delighted to discover that I am part of the Blarney St Pollinator Path” Blarney St resident.
“The Blarney St Pollinator Path not only increased awareness of the importance of supporting our pollinators, it was also a wonderful way of meeting more neighbours and developing our community.” Blarney St. resident.
“I am really delighted to support a unique community project that promotes the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and is creating a template for other communities to deliver their own pollinator paths in the near future within Cork City” Rosemarie McDonald, Biodiversity Officer, Cork City Council.
Tips for Setting Up a Pollinator Path
Value Local News Channels: The local paper is the best place to get the word out. An example of our local announcement.
Set up a simple online presence: For us, we created a standalone Gmail account.
Stack your actions: Who is doing something similar and can you partner with them? We connected with the Blarney St Tidy Streets group to share our social media announcements through their Twitter account and to share our announcements through the community WhatsApp group.
What Next? Have an idea of what happens next. For us, we are curious if we can turn our Tidy Streets group into a Wild Streets group and combine caring for the street with making it wildlife friendly.
If you would like to get involved, please email [email protected]
This initiative is generously supported by Blarney St and Surrounding Areas Community Centre and Cork City Council. Window sticker design by Aaron Ross @aaross_creative