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'It's a wonderland': A new series exploring Dublin Bay's ecosystem starts tonight

An Cuan starts at 9:30pm on TG4.

TG4 / YouTube

“THE BAY IS teeming with life, both human and wild. But it also faces many challenges.”

This is Eoin Warner, the narrator of new TG4 series An Cuan, which starts tonight. Filmed over a year, it follows the life of animals, plants and people in Dublin Bay.

“To naturalists and ecologists, the bay is a wonderland and needs to be protected. But to more than one million Dubliners, it’s home,” says Eoin in the first episode, which tells the story of spring in the bay.

The area is home to an extraordinary number of birds, mammals, sea creatures and flora, not to mention one of Europe’s busiest ports – oh, and 1.5 million Dubliners.

One local we meet in tonight’s episode is Mary Lee, who regularly kite-surfs in the bay with her husband Rob. “I love the feeling it gives me,” she says. “The views are amazing… It’s rare you’d find a resource like this in Ireland, in the capital, only five minutes from the city centre.”

Screenshot 2021-11-03 at 16.44.01 TG4 / An Cuan TG4 / An Cuan / An Cuan

The bay’s credentials were further increased in 2015, when the designation of Dublin Bay Biosphere was announced by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The biosphere (a place where nature and culture connect) extends to over 300 sq km, from protected areas to public green spaces to commercial and industrial areas. 

An example of the latter is Ringsend, where local man Deke has run a roadside diner for the last 20 years. An active member of the community, Deke was even asked to serve a term as mayor of Ringsend and has seen the area change before him firsthand.

An Cuan - PC 7 Thousands of people use Dublin Bay for recreation - from surfers to sailors. Pictured: Paul Byrne and Caoimhe Galligan Byrne. TG4 / An Cuan TG4 / An Cuan / An Cuan

“It’s evolving all the time,” he says. “Back in the day, say 100 years ago, everybody in Ringsend or the surrounding area was affiliated with the river. Our families would have been dock workers, working on ships, tug boat men, engineers, boat builders, rope makers, sail makers. The skills were phenomenal. Slowly but surely, this has all changed. Everything is compact. It’s like clockwork, it’s all digitally done.”

An Cuan looks at the multitudes of life that make up Dublin Bay, the many environmental issues it faces and looks at how the industry and people of the bay are learning to co-exist with the wildlife.

An Cuan - Pronsias 10 Naturalist and photographer Proinsias Mac An Bheatha writes about the wildlife of Bull Island. TG4 / An Cuan TG4 / An Cuan / An Cuan

Throughout the series, viewers will be shown different areas of this part of Ireland’s coastline through a new lens, and be given an important reminder of the incredible wildlife that exists so close to the city – all while both wildlife and the surrounding population battle against the issues climate change poses to the eco-system, from rising sea levels to coastal erosion to gorse fires. 

An Cuan starts this Wednesday November 10 at 9:30pm on TG4. Missed it? Catch up on the TG4 Player