Inishowen Rivers Trust – Trinity College Dublin

Inishowen in Donegal suffered severe flooding in 2017, causing substantial damage to land and property. The Inishowen Rivers Trust subsequently engaged Dr Mary Bourke of the School of Geography at Trinity College Dublin as a consultant to advise on alleviating future flood damage.

Dr Bourke is a leading academic in the field of extreme environmental events, and extensively researched methods of using natural landscape to alleviate impacts of flooding. The project was funded by the Office of Public Works, and Dr Bourke worked with the Trust and local community to determine specific measures for implementation, which are now being progressed to application.

Dr Joanne Conroy, Consultancy Development Manger of CONSULT Trinity, based in Trinity Research and Innovation and funded under the Enterprise Ireland’s TTSI programme, supported the engagement. Dr Bourke reported that this was

“extremely helpful as the processing of the project could be taken out of my hands and I knew I was effectively legally protected. Dr Conroy engaged in knowledgeable discussions around risks. It was very beneficial to have the costing of the project arranged on my behalf, and I could use the funding from this project to fund PhD students.”

This project was also written up as a case study by Consultancy Development Officer Dr Kate Smyth to promote Trinity academic consultancy opportunities. Discussions are ongoing between Dr Bourke, the Trust, and local community about how best to apply the findings to actively combat flooding in the region.

Dr Bourke is also exploring similar projects elsewhere in Ireland, which may lead to collaborative research and new knowledge in the areas of environmental sustainability, biodiversity and climate change. According to Trish Murphy, Project Officer at Inishowen Rivers Trust:

“The high level of competency and knowledge provided by the university has been evident and is a valuable experience for the Trust. It has enabled the Trust to deliver a high-quality project, which can be utilised by the relevant agencies and may lead to further collaborations in this field with other NGOs and contacts beyond Ireland. By engaging with the university, the research carried out in Inishowen can be published in academic journals, further highlighting the work of the Trust and advancing knowledge of this topic in Ireland. The Consultancy Office allowed the Trust to deal with the administrative aspect of the project separately from the research aspect, ensuring that the project has effectively satisfied the requirements of the funders.”

Dr Declan Weldon, head of Trinity’s TTO, stated that

“This consultancy project demonstrates how academic excellence can have a direct and timely influence on critical issues affecting our environment. CONSULT Trinity measures success primarily through both academic and client satisfaction, both of which are demonstrated well in this project.”

Publish date: 2019