Lecale Conservation Calls For Helpers For Tyrella Planting

Lecale Conservation is planting grasses on sand dunes at Tyrella Beach to stem erosion and is calling for volunteer helpers

Following a successful grass restoration project at Ballyhornan, Lecale Conservation, a County Down environmental and conservation group, have stepped up and are seeking to plant grasses on Tyrella beach writes Jim Masson.

The group of volunteers have already made a start and have enlisted the backing of Newry Mourne Down District Council responsible for the beach.

However, the extensive sand dunes stretching the full length of the beach require a big team of people to address the planting over a three year period.

Cllr Cadogan Enright, project leader of the dunes restoration at Tyrella Beach with Newry Mourne and Down Council Environmental Officer Judith Hassard, and Lecale Volunteers, Brenda Enright, David Becket (secretary), Cathal Quinn, and Chris Brown. (Photo by Jim Masson / Down News ©)

Lecale Conservation is therefore calling on volunteers from across the South Down community… and beyond.

From businesses and organisations to individuals committed to helping the environment, Lecale Conservation wants to hear from you if you can give a few hours or a day to a very important cause.

Coastal erosion is a serious threat but is can be avoided at Tyrella beach by planting grasses which help the sand to accumulate and form banks which in turn prevent further erosion.

Lecale Conservation have already help repair Ballyhornan beach with grass planting which has accumulated up to eight feet in just a short space of a couple of years forming a solid bank.

And it will continue to grow. This idea is now being rolled out on a grander scale at Tyrella Beach.

Young Lecale Conservation members Cathal and Cadog help out with the Maram grass planting at Ballyhornan beach in the summer of 2023 along with Cllr Cadogan Enright and John Peacock, Chairman of Lecale Conservation which organised the dune restoration project.

Calling all businesses, organisations and individuals

John Peacocke, Chairman of Lecale Conservation, said: “We are coming into a good time to start planting the seedling grasses with the warmer weather.

“Many people visiting Tyrella beach will already have seen the posts we have erected with the white rope and wire mesh fencing. THis fence was part-funded by NMD District Council.

“We aim to plant fresh grasses along the beach area which can survive in the salt water and salty sand.

“These plants will grow and trap the sand and form mounds as the wind blows the sand across the beach area. It is a very effective means of erosion prevention.

“It will lead to the natural building of sand dunes up to 20-feet which happened originally over the centuries. But with grasses being trampled, driven over by quads and motorcycles, there has been a gradual erosion and the dunes are now at a critical stage of survival.

The fence at Tyrella Beach which helps protect the young shoots of Maram and Lyme grasses planted by the Lecale Conservation volunteers. The group plans to plant grasses the length of the beach to help build up the the sand dunes to prevent erosion. (Photo by Jim Masson / Down News).

“The dunes, apart from being a natural barrier to prevent coastal erosion, also provide a natural habitat for many plants and animals.

“The beach needs repaired. That is our aim. Once we do that, nature will take over and re-build the dunes to a healthy size.

“We have received the support of Newry Mourne and Down District Council who own the beach. They are keen to see this project succeed.

“So we are appealing for volunteers to help us with the beach planting. It is a huge task and is just too much for our members. We did manage a very successful project at Ballyhornan beach over the past couple of years.

“At Ballyhornan we planted many grass seedlings and the sand has now accumulated up to a height of eight feet in many areas which is the beginning of the beach re-building itself. Ballyhornan beach has suffered quite a lot from coastal erosion.

“Families can come along and spend a few hours planting at Tyrella beach. Or even businesses could organise a corporate day out. And there are many community and sporting groups in the area too who could lend a hand for the day.

“It is quite straightforward and no heavy work is involved.

“Just contact the emails or telephone numbers below!”

John Peacocke added: “Getting involved will give everyone a chance to get hands on and take a responsible part in helping our environment which is under pressure in different ways. It will be an educational experience too for the younger ones getting involved in nature.”

Every picture tells a story – check out this link to sand dune formation.

Debbie Gillies of True Harvest Seeds, centre, receives cheques from Lecale Conservation volunteers to grow grasses and plants for replanting on local beaches.

The grasses for the Tyrella project are being grown by Debbie Gillies of True Harvest Seeds based beside Kilclief, which aims to promote natural species of plants into our environment where many have been under pressure.

Cllr Cadogan Enright is project managing the plantng of the grass seedings. He said: “I succeeded in getingt this passed at a meeting of Newry Mourne and Down District Council and it was seconded by former Slieve Croob Alliance Councillor Andy McMurray who has since been appointed as MLA for South Down.

“He will now be in a position to press for further coastal erosion prevention projects such as this to be rolled out across Northern Ireland.

(l-r) John Peacocke, Lecale Conservation Chairman; former Slieve Croob Councillor Andrew McMurray now elected to South Down Alliance MLA, and Cllr Cadogan Enright, project manager, pictured at the successful re-building of a sand dune at Ballyhornan beach.

“Basically to put this project in its context, our volunteers covered 500m of beach front at Ballyhornan beach and Tyrella is much bigger at 1.5Km.

“That is the reason why we are calling for volunteers over the project life of three years when we will complete the planting.

“Once we avoid the big spring tides and up until November we can plant away as best we can. We can help and guide the volunteers on their work and it is basically not hard and the tools used will just be hand trowels as the sand is soft at Tyrella.

“We were very fortunate too get a number of trowels from Tools for Solidarity in Downpatrick which has been very useful. But people can bring their own ones if they wish.

“I should also add that we are fully indemnified with insurance as a requirement by the Council for us to proceed with this work.

“With the help of volunteers from the area, we can move mountains. Or in this case, grow sand mountains.

“We just aim to give nature a helping hand and it will kindly do the rest.”


If you are interested in volunteering for a few hours, please contact:

Cllr Cadogan Enright on 07590462329

or email: cadogan@enright.ie

David Becket, Lecale Conversation Secretary at: 07751667242

or email: lecaleconservation@gmail.com