Workcamp experience in Killarney National Park

I volunteered as a project coordinator on one of four Killarney National Park Woodland Conservation Projects during the summer of 2018. Set amidst one of the most picturesque parts of Ireland, Killarney National Park is a nature lover’s paradise.

However, the park is battling a serious problem for years. Rhododendron ponticum is a highly invasive plant that was introduced into Ireland in the early 19th century for ornamental purposes but is now threatening the survival of native oakwood forests. Our project, like many others, involved working alongside park rangers to remove rhododendron saplings and prevent their spread to new areas. Our cooperative conservation efforts will hopefully bring an end to this issue someday.

As a coordinator, one of my roles was to ensure volunteers understood the objectives of the project within the overarching aim of achieving worldwide peace. The other key role was to ensure volunteers got on well with each other and gained from their voluntary experience. After work hours and during weekends, I organised group activities that would help volunteers experience the local community and culture. On one of these days, some of us watched our first live Gaelic football game, which we all enjoyed!

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Coordinating this project was a fantastic experience. The volunteers in our workcamp were respectful and interesting individuals, and we learnt a great deal from each other. Many of our volunteers had never travelled outside their country and it was fantastic to see how they found common ground and bonded with each other. Living together for two weeks meant volunteers got to know each other very well and the experience was all the more enriching. Two weeks is a short time when you get a lifetime of memories from Killarney!

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Text and photos by Sangha (Voluntary Service International)

Summer, 2018

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