The Tranquillity Project (Tsig) started when Donal Boland asked himself the question: ‘Why do I live on the Shannon Waterway?’ As he says himself, he answered it by asking others the same question.
Over a two year period, from his base in the mid-Shannon, he engaged with visitors to the river. These visitors were a mix of continental Europeans, Irish and the odd North American. People, by and large came to the river to experience the friendliness of the people, sample the pub culture and, more importantly to relax in our clean environment – to unwind and de-stress.
We know that stress is generally negative, that having no stress is neutral, but how do we measure positive stress, i.e., what is the benefit of being on or close to water, which for us is the Shannon Waterway. Using the excellent maps from the CSIG and his personal knowledge, Donal set about formulating a strategy to recognise, protect and promote tranquillity along our Inland Waterways.
The definition of Tranquillity is: A peaceful; calm state without noise, violence or worry. Tranquillity of the Place leads to Tranquillity of the Mind, which in turn leads to calming, peace of mind, stress free. Thus generating a feeling of Wellness and Therapeutic Recovery. Anybody who regularly visits water, be it by the sea, along a river, canal or lake, will know the calming effect of such a visit.
Using the mantra of recognise, protect and promote, Donal went about identifying: Tranquil places ON the waterway; Tranquil places AT the waterway; Tranquil places ALONG the waterway. These developed into: SIT: Sites of Intense Tranquillity; SAT: Special Areas of Tranquillity; TT: Tranquillity Trails.
The work of the many voluntary surveyors who criss-crossed the rivers, lakes and canals of our inland system to create the CSIG maps deserve special mention at this point.
The benefits of promoting ‘tranquil’ environments are more and more being recognised by bodies/organisations involved with promoting health, leisure, lifestyle options, businesses and ultimately local tourism. The TSIG group has now been affiliated to the Offaly branch of IWAI. The whole ‘Tranquillity’ concept has been embraced by Waterways Ireland.
A meeting held in Waterways Ireland Western Regional Office in Scarriff in December was attended by senior Waterways Ireland staff. Also in attendance were Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre, who works in the Health Research Institute at The University of Limerick and Andree Walkin, who works as the marketing manager/corporate client services at the UL sport adventure centre; Brid O’Connell, psychotherapist and founder of the Shannon Dragons (a dragon boat club set up to help women recovering from breast cancer). The TSIG group were represented by Donal Boland, Susie Coote and Pat Nolan. At that meeting, Éanna Rowe, Western Regional Manager of Waterways Ireland committed to placing three tranquillity test sites in Scarriff Bay in 2019. Tadgh and Andrea were keen to add the Tranquillity Project to their research work in UL, given that it gave them access to people who had experience on, at and beside the river and who could relate their experiences. The possibility of funding for a full-time researcher was discussed.
The benefits of wellness on the water could be aligned with other campaigns such as Get Ireland Walking; Get Ireland Active.
The Tsig needs time to develop over the next few years. The output will be a digital map similar to the Csig chart.
© Pat Nolan TSIG PRO