Camac Connections

There are places we go that take us back in time, where the sounds and smells, and the feel of the ground
under our feet says ‘you are home’. The Camac has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It has
been part of my family history. It is the DNA that flows in us, the thing that connects us, it is part of who we
Reconnecting with the river took me into the past. It seemed like a great idea, improving the Camac and its
environment for the people. Getting back to nature and helping protect the biodiversity; all the animals,
plants and aquatic life that make up the ecosystem. It has been fun. One of the best things about Friends of
the Camac is the people you meet and the connections you make.
The Camac river flows through Corkagh Park, where my grandmother worked in the orchards. It ripples
around the Oil Mills, over gravelly beds where fish lay their eggs. Here, my father taught us about trout
spawning and showed us how to watch for the flashing blue wings of the Kingfisher.
In Clondalkin Park and Community Centre you pass trees and hedgerows, and in Summer the air is heady
with the scent of Ground Elder. There is always something to see on the riverbank, from the first Spring
shoots to the Autumn hedges heavy with blackberries, rosehips and haws. Even in Winter the trees are
starkly beautiful.
In years past, my husband and I used to see otters on the river. They have moved on now, but it was an
amazing thing to see the otters and pups. We both love the river. It is a living, breathing thing, and a good
place to find calm; something we all need.
My father was a great angler. He and his friends founded Clondalkin Anglers’ Association and many people
were taught to fish by them. They built the fish ladder in Clondalkin Park, which is a scenic spot all Clondalkin
people will know. I have old cinefilms and you can see the work done on the river, the competitions held, the
delighted faces of young anglers at the presentation of prizes. Great neighbours and friends appear: the
Keoghs, the Nolans, the Gings. And familiar faces show up at Friends of the Camac outings. Some things
never change. Thankfully.
One of my father’s brothers, Uncle Sean, remembers everything about Clondalkin, and the Camac. He says
when my father was in the Merchant Marine during World War II, he was torpedoed three times. This was
something he never talked about it. One time, he was picked up after floating in the Indian Ocean for days,
barely alive. It speaks to his strength and courage that he survived. I can understand why he would grab the
fishing rod and go to the river. It was his way to get away from it all. I think there is something in that for all
of us these days. Spending time along the river is a healing thing. It’s a place of refuge.
The River Camac means many things to me, as I’m sure it does to a lot of people. Walking along its banks I
see my father fly-fishing, my beautiful mother laughing. I see a loved sister, a baby brother, family. And as
the river flows along by my side it reminds me of all the connections in life, how each living thing is
connected to the next, how the lives of plants, animals, people are all interwoven. We are all in this together.
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