Whitestown Stream

My earliest memory is of when I was four years old and I had got lost down by ‘the river’. Thankfully
a man out walking his Alsaitan dog found me and brought me home. It was a pattern of adventure
forged at a very young age. I had a happy childhood, often spent playing down by ‘the river’. By the
age of eight I had progressed to making a dam with friends at the bottom of ‘the waterfalls’. The
pool we made seemed enormous to me at the time. We would splash and play to our heart’s
content and upon returning home, I would concoct all sorts of stories to relay I was only playing
down by the river, to deviate from the fact I was actually in the river, which was forbidden.
The older boys of about ten or eleven were brave enough to cycle down ‘the waterfalls’, which to
me seemed so heroic at the time and I promised myself, one day I would achieve such superhuman
status. We moved away from ‘the river’ before I had my chance but by the time of my early thirties I
had moved back to within range of ‘the river’.
Nowadays, I frequently jog through Killinarden Park and by the Whitestown Stream, often being
transported back to those childhood memories of exploration. Simpler times, when the two golden
rules were “come in for your dinner at six and come home before it gets dark”.
Whitestown Stream feeds into Sean Walsh Park, a stunning setting that delivers serenity and
connection to riparian wildlife to both young and old. It’s with great fondness I recount newer
memories of times in ‘the river’ and lakes of Sean Walsh Park, where I can still be found playing
about in the water! My parents probably approve more so these days, as I now wear waders and
collect litter as part of The Litter Mugs, a group of local volunteers that help keep Sean Walsh Park
Being part of this group, has enabled us to bond together as a community, making friends and
leading by example, while taking local ownership of the park and its waterways and giving something
back. This has added to my self-esteem and particularly recently during the Covid-19 lockdown, it
has given added purpose to my life. Additionally, on my now daily morning walks in that park before
I start to ‘work from home’, I have found those waterways to be a soothing calm. By observing the
flora and fauna going about their business-as-usual, I have found not only comfort in their natural
beauty but also it is a constant reminder that life goes on and that some form of normality will
return again.
It really is the waterway that keeps on giving – I have furthermore found the stream to be a great
conduit of helping educate my eight year old nephew. We have spent many’s a day since he was
knee height to a grass hopper, feeding the ducks (fruit, veg & grains, NOT bread!), watching the
progress of young cygnets and admiring the elegant grace of the Grey Herons. All marvellous fun,
while building a connection and respect to nature that will undoubtedly last for his lifetime.
I have only recently realised, that I may very well happily spend some of my free-time for the rest of
my life in the Whitestown stream, helping to keep it in good shape, to pass on to the next
generations, to enjoy it’s many bounties that I have been so blessed to continue appreciating.