Friends of the Grand Canal

Friends of the Grand Canal1

What does a coconut, an umbrella, a sleeping bag and a wine cooler have in common? They are all items found along the Grand Canal.

The Friends of the Grand Canal is a community clean up group, which Breffnie O’Kelly started in 2007. Since then on the first Saturday of the month they congregate at Leeson St. Bridge (on the city side, at a canal bench) between 10am and 12pm. Volunteers split up into twos and threes and each team walks along the waterway collecting refuse. The accumulated waste is amassed in green bags which are placed at the nearest canal bridge for collection by the Council.

The volunteers use litter pickers to grab whatever trash they can see in the reeds along the banks which mainly consists of plastic bottles, crisp bags and beer cans. Sometimes this is tricky especially when it has rained as you can slide down the mud when you lean outwards with your picker.

The Friends are an eclectic crowd, young and old, rich and poor, local residents and visitors from everywhere around the city and the globe. Stephen and Joan from the United States store the clean up equipment at their house near the meeting point. The Friends all have one thing in common, each and every one of them respect the Grand Canal as one of the most important cultural and ecological features in Dublin and believe it should be taken care of. Normally 30 to 40 volunteers arrive to help, but if the weather is not too good like in the winter months, around 10 to 20 people will undertake the clean up. Many have made good friends through the group. Another advantage of going out each month is that you get to see the natural progression of wildlife along the canal like when the cygnets hatch.

Dublin City Council and Inland Waterways supply the equipment and are developing a plan for the overall investment in and development of the Grand Canal. The work of the Friends of the Grand Canal clean up group will be included in this plan.

Starbucks near Leeson Street Bridge sponsor the group and are only too happy to supply the refreshments after each clean up. The well deserved coffee meeting allows everyone a chance to chat and socialise in the picturesque surroundings. The next clean up will take place on Saturday 2nd March 2013 between 10am and 12pm at the Leeson St. Bridge. Everyone is welcome to participate, all you need bring is yourself and some energy.

If you are the owner of a small boat and would be happy to lend it to The Friends of the Grand Canal then please contact This would be a huge asset to them in the removal of hard to reach debris and rubbish.

By: Tracy O’Brien