My virtue is unbesmirched

I signed up to a Meetup Group for this purpose some years ago. The monthly reminders were marked as spam in my email account meaning I always missed the notification until it was too late. Not this month however. I even put a note on my clever-phone to make sure that I was at the North Strand Road bridge at 10.45 this morning. Because I walk along the canal every week I felt a slight obligation to make an effort to keep it clean. The stretch of the canal between North Strand Road and Dorset Street runs beneath Croke Park, and this area in particular is a bit grubby.

I met some fellow volunteers at the appointed place, donned my hi-viz jacket which proclaimed my status as a volunteer and I got picking. I took three large refuse sacks with me and memorised where they could be left, for Dublin City Council to collect at 1.30pm.

I don’t know the name of the implement used to scoop up the rubbish. Let’s just call it the ‘picky-uppy thing’. Some other volunteers has much longer implements to scoop up thrash from the water. Howerver as I was a novice I focused on the footpath.

There’s not much more to tell. Cigarette butts are the most annoying things – they are everywhere and it’s virtually impossible to collect them all.

People who used plastic bags to scoop up their dog’s waste and then dump that bag along the footpath are idiots.

The metal tops on beer bottles are quite difficult to gather.

Broken glass is a losing game.

Excrement hardens with age and becomes easy to pick up. Fresher ordure is more troublesome – but at least I can clean the picky-uppy thing in the canal water.

Human beings defecate along the canal. This shouldn’t surprise me but it did. Until I remembered that some people are rough sleepers and use this canal for more than just pleasant weekend strolls. These people were quite friendly. As were most people passing by . I resisted the temptation to say ‘Yes I am doing good, thank you.’

At 1pm I made y way back to the shed where our equipment was stored to return it.

I was quite surprised to hear that Waterways Ireland does not clean the canal as a matter of routine but instead relies on volunteers to do so.

This means I will certainly be back to do this again. Even better, when the pandemic is over we will repair to the Brian Boru hostelry for a complimentary coffee and biscuit. What’s not to love – aside from the fetid stench emanating from me now?

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