Welcome to ECOCONNECT Making Wild Lives Matter!

ECO-CONNECT is a collaboration between University College Cork and Cork Nature Network. In 2023 research undertaken by Tracey Skillington and Johanna Marie Kirsch set out to explore the benefits of engaging with green spaces in the city and how it can improve both physical and mental wellbeing.

We know spending time in nature can have a positive impact on our health, and EcoConnect highlights the many benefits of engagement with Cork City’s green spaces as reported by research participants – especially in relation to wellbeing. It also looks at existing management and legislation in place to protect the city’s biodiversity and aspires to help ensure that nature in our city is better safeguarded for future generations.

Research involved a thorough review of urban policy on biodiversity and climate action and the limitations of current community engagement processes, carrying out walking interviews with participants in green spaces and focus groups exploring the value of eco-heritage to wellbeing, the creation of this website, and hosting an online forum where representatives from Cork City Council, Cork Healthy Cities, UCC and Cork Nature Network respond to the findings.

The full report in PDF format is available to read or download here: ‘Making Wild lives Matter: Exploring the transformative potential of everyday encounters with wild urban nature and their contribution to eco-smart urban living’

Reflections on Cork’s Green Spaces

Angela Cunningham

Born and reared on Ballinlough road, Angela, 82, shares a story from her childhood in the 50s. A fond memory of cycling down the boggy road to picnic at the Atlantic pond on the Southside of Cork on a Sunday. Angela describes it as a lovely natural sanctuary and feeling free and at one with nature. Have a listen here.

Atlantic Pond – Tracey Skillington
Angela Cunningham, 82, talking about the Atlantic Pond in the 1950s

Bernard Twomey

Community Health Worker and coordinator of the award winning Glen Community Garden in the Glen Community Resource Centre, Bernard, looks back at all that has been achieved over the last 15 years and the lasting benefits to the wellbeing of the local community. In this interview Bernard also talks about all the many activities in nature they enjoyed in their youth.

A Walk & Talk in The Glen – Photo Cork Nature Network
Bernard Twomey played a vital role in helping the Glen Community project to flourish and St. Brendan’s walking group

Barry Hickey

Community Gardener at the Glen Resource Centre, Barry shares his experience of nature stewardship in the city. Growing up in the Fairhill area of Cork City Barry has always been fascinated with nature and speaks about his childhood seeking out wild spaces around his home place. Barry talks about his experience of biodiversity loss, the importance of green spaces to people and how access to these spaces and opportunities for community and nature connection have been in decline too.

The Glen Park – Photo Cork Nature Network
Barry Hickey, head at the Glen Community Garden reflecting on the importance of gardening and being in nature to his mental health.

Maeve Fleischman

Maeve, daughter of Irish composer, Aloys Fleischmann, shares her earliest memory of attempting to draw the songbirds in her garden on a cold winters morning. She recalls wandering freely in the Glen with her siblings, picking blackberries, digging tunnels in the sand quarry, and the swimming spot frequented by local children, amongst other fond recollections.

‘Children of Lir’ photo shoot in Fleischmann’s garden 1950 – Photo Maeve Fleischman
Maeve Fleischman on her childhood in the Glen & the play, freedom, imagination and immersion in nature

Ann Dalton

The Glen Stream. Photo by Tracey Skillington
The Glen Stream – Photo Tracey Skillington
Ann Dalton, reflecting on the importance of the nature of the Glen to stimulating imagination, creativity, community and wellbeing.

Jim O’Neill

Batchelors Quay 1940 – Photo Capuchin Archive


Goals of ECO- CONNECT Making Wild Lives Matter

  1. Changing mindsets by redefining biodiversity loss as something that affects our city’s natural and cultural heritage, rather than something distant and unrelated.
  2. Creating communication campaigns that inspire action by using local stories that highlight the importance of eco-cultural heritage. See the ECO CONNECT memory map for example.
  3. Promoting changes in systems that will help to restore habitats in Cork City and involve its diverse communities in positive actions through ‘making wild lives matter’.

Thank you for visiting our webpage and joining us on this journey to explore the connections between green spaces, wellbeing, biodiversity protection, and community efforts.

ECO-CONNECT is Funded by the IRC New Foundations Programme (2022) & facilitated by Community Foundation Ireland