A HOST of Clare towns and villages were thrust in the spotlight this week when the national Tidy Towns results were released and for some centres the glow of success embraced a golden tint.
National winners of four years ago, Ennis maintained its remarkable run of success and came within a solitary point of joining places like Keadue, The Glenties, Ardagh, Ballyjamesduff and Westport as repeat winners. But if there was consolation in not taking top spot, that accolade went to County Tipperary village of Emly it was the fact that Ennis bagged a raft of awards.
With a points tally of 304, Ennis was named the tidiest large urban centre while also picking up a gold medal, a regional award, the county award and the gum litter award.
Kilrush, with 298 points, were gold medal winners also while Ballynacally were presented with a silver medal. Bronze medals went to Mountshannon and Kilkee.
Sixmilebridge National School was also commended with a regional award in the schools category.
Ennis crowned Ireland’s tidiest large urban centre
ENNIS has once again cleaned up at the national Tidy Towns awards ceremony, with the delighted committee taking home a total of six awards, including the award for Ireland’s Tidiest Large Urban Centre for the second year in a row.
At the awards ceremony in Dublin on Monday it was announced that Ennis had scooped not only the national largest urban centre award, but also a gold medal, county award, regional award, gum litter award and a regional award in the category of notice nature biodiversity.
Chairman of the Ennis committee, Noel Crowley, told The Clare Champion they are “delighted” with the win. And plans are already underway for next year’s competition with hopes high that the town will once again be crowned Ireland’s Tidiest Town.
“We were only one point off the overall winner, which is fantastic. What has been achieved in Ennis has been tremendous; Ennis is the only town of this size to achieve this kind of success. The bigger the town, the harder it is to achieve, but we have a great community here that has really come on board in supporting our efforts. This accolade is testimony to the hard work and commitment of our committee, Town Council and our fantastic Ennis community including residents, schools and businesses. Credit must be given to all those who work tirelessly to ensure our town is looking its best.”
He added, “The judges said it was a pleasure to spend a few hours in the town, and that’s a real compliment. We are delighted to have done so well this year, particularly in view of the works that has been going on at the river. Next year they will be moving downstream and we will be going gung-ho to win the all-Ireland award again. The planning stage is the most important, and that starts the minute the results are out. We’ve already begun setting out our objectives for next year.”
Mayor of Ennis Frankie Neylon congratulated all those involved in the win. “The town’s performance in this competition has continuously improved over the years and I am very pleased with the excellent results achieved in 2009. I want to pay tribute to everyone involved. Community groups, schools, residents associations, businesses and state agencies all worked hard and demonstrated a high level of commitment, which has led to the town’s success. I want to compliment the Tidy Towns committee and to acknowledge their strong partnership with the Local Authority. In particular I want to publicly acknowledge the role of the Council staff, including those involved in litter management. I also want to acknowledge the contribution of the gardening section for the tremendous, extensive and colourful floral displays on streets and in public areas throughout the town”.
Town clerk, Eddie Power added, “The continued success in this competition is indicative of the high level of environmental awareness and participation from all sectors of the community in Ennis. Having been awarded the title Ireland’s Tidiest Town in 2005, Ennis was designated as Ireland’s Tidiest Large Urban Centre in 2006, 2008 and the retention of the award again this year is very significant and hugely positive. The continued success of the town in this competition raises the profile of Ennis, not only at regional level but at national and international levels also and enhances the image of the town for locals and visitors alike”
In its adjudication report, judges congratulated Ennis on a “superb performance” adding that this indicated “that the community of Ennis is still as committed as ever to the ongoing enhancement of the town.”
As well as commending the appearance of the town, the judges were also encouraged by the fact that the local committee has acquired several new members and praised its partnership with local organisations, encouragement of local schools and interaction with the public.
Judges praised Ennis on the overall presentation of the town, particularly to the high quality and co-ordination of the numerous floral displays and flowerbeds around the town and approach roads.
The high level of litter control and presentation of residential areas was also noted and the Ennis Sculpture Trail Initiative received high praise. The judges were particularly impressed with the presentation of shop fronts and commended the businesses on their efforts.
Ennis received particular mention in relation to the new Ennis Tidy Towns Website. www.ennistidytowns.com which was recently developed by Acton BV website design. Visitors to the site will find information on the various activities and initiatives organised by the committee and will also have a greater opportunity to get involved.
The TidyTowns competition is organised nationally by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
Kilrush keep gold, Kilkee clinches bronze
KiLRUSH collected a third successive gold medal in Category D in the 2009 Tidy Towns competition.
Category D is for towns of between 2,501 and 5,000 people. Kilrush increased their total by one point, to 298, on last year’s results.
The overall winner, Emly in Tipperary, finished on 305 points, seven ahead of Kilrush. The maximum score is 400 points.
Kilrush Tidy Towns committee chairman, Murt Collins, said that some local organisations could have worked harder to ensure that the town achieved a higher total.
“In the coming year we’ll have a bigger effort and we’ll have to have the involvement of everyone. We want a bigger involvement from local people, the town council, Clare County Council, local schools, the church and all other organisations in Kilrush,” he said.
In the ten tidy town categories, Kilrush scored highest in the overall development approach section (45 points from 50) and lowest in roads, streets and back areas (31 points from 50). In the general impression section, the town scored nine out of 10.
In their report, the adjudicators said that Kilrush justified its Heritage Town status but that some derelict properties could be improved upon.
“Progress with premises owners can be very slow but you have been taking appropriate action and we noted the improvements which your committee had undertaken in the absence of co-operation,” the report read.
“There is not a lot more that can be done except to work with other concerned bodies, including the town council, and continue lobbying for action,” it added.
Kilkee picked up a bronze medal, which the town also won in 2008. The town finished on 288 points. At Monday’s meeting of Kilkee Town Council, town mayor Lily Marrinan-Sullivan, who is a member of the Kilkee Tidy Towns Committee, singled out Pauline Barry for her work on the local committee. The mayor suggested that Kilkee might even improve their ranking in 12 months time.
“We are quite definitely in the position of going after a silver medal next year,” Councillor Marrinan Sullivan said.
Three-year plan working well for Ballynacally
COMING out with 299 marks in this year’s Tidy Towns saw Ballynacally take a silver medal award of €700 and finish second in Clare, just five marks behind Ennis.
James Maher of the Ballynacally Development Association, which incorporates the local Tidy Towns group, said he was very pleased with the performance.
“We’re over the moon. It was a phenomenal achievement and it’s the second year in a row that we got silver. We were second in the county overall and we improved by six marks. We were also just six marks away from the overall Tidy Town’s winner. Out of 720 entries there were 16 ahead of us.”
He said that a number of significant improvements have been made. “We’re in year two of a three-year plan. In terms of heritage we’ve redeveloped the fair green, we’ve a new playground and a new heritage trail along with a sculpture by Shane Gilmore, who also did the Hands at the Cathedral in Ennis.”
He said a lot of local effort had gone into this year’s success. “There was a core team of around 20 people, a big improvement on the last couple of years. All those people would have been out one or two nights a week working on it. There was phenomenal support from Clare County Council and the FAS Community Employment Scheme. There was goodwill from the community and local residents too.”
Adjudicators made two visits to Ballynacally and on both occasions were impressed. The first visit was on July 1 and the adjudicator left with a positive overall impression.
“Everywhere there was evidence of an intensely proud community working together as a cohesive unit to create a magical environment,” the report read.
“We appreciate your concern about the possible negative influence that the children’s play area might have on the Fair Green, however in our opinion, we feel your concerns will prove to be unfounded.”
A second adjudicator visited at the end of the month and was also charmed.
“It is clear from the supporting material provided that there is a professional approach to the enhancement of Ballynacally, which makes it a great place to visit, and better still a wonderful place to live in.
Mountshannon maintains its high standards
Former Tidy Town winner Mountshannon, was again keeping up appearances at this year’s Tidy Towns competition, where it took a bronze medal in Category B for the second year in a row.
The harbour village won the competition in 1981 and has held a high standard of tidiness since then in the national competition. This year the village improved on last year’s score by three points.
Mountshannon scored particularly high in its overall development approach where it has an almost perfect score of 48/50. Its landscaping was also to be commended receiving 42/50.
Adjudicators also noted the village’s many distinctive characteristics, such as the stone walls, the Aistear Park, St Camin’s Church and the national school, as well the evidence of the work of past tidy towns committees.
The judges also noted that the selection of old farm machinery provided educational value and was a reminder of a bygone day in Irish farming. They did however recommend that the old petrol pumps outside Callura Pottery place, on the main street, be removed.
“There is a distinct pride of place attitude by the residents to be seen all over the village, and their individual efforts at landscaping and attractively coloured houses plus the TidyTowns works give a distinctive flavour to Mountshannon,” the judges noted.
’Bridge students get their hands dirty to win award
The Green Flag flutters in the breeze, a symbol of Sixmilebridge National Scchool’s commitment to being environmentally friendly.
However, this week another flag was unfurled, one that reflects the school’s success in the Tidy Towns competition through their development of an organic garden where students got down and dirty and planted produce in a derelict patch.
Their endeavours reaped a rich harvest, not alone with a bountiful crop of potatoes, lettuce, cabbage and strawberries, but an award and a cheque for €750 as the winning entry from the Mid-West in the schools category of the Tidy Towns.
Green schools co-ordinator, Hazel Tuohy told The Clare Champion that St Finnachta’s National School has already achieved two green flags in recognition of their efforts and achievements in litter control and energy conservation. Students are presently completing their third theme – water – with hopes of sustaining the standards previously achieved.
However, back last March, under the direction of teacher Aisling Murphy, fifth class students decided to convert an unused part of the school grounds into an organic garden.
“All of fifth class undertook some research in the local shops, noting the countries where produce such as fruit and vegetables were being sourced. Ms Murphy made the point that one can grow all these themselves so the students decided to take on the challenge and develop their own organic garden,” Ms Tuohy explained.
Locals PJ Ryan and Johnny Moroney were on hand to offer guidance with such tasks as rotavating and preparing the plot, while Aedamer Quinn donated the various vegetables for planting.
“The children planted the vegetables, used the proper tools and even kept garden booklets full of observations. The results of this garden were astonishing with big heads of lettuce, cabbage, potatoes and strawberries. Children from all classes got to see the garden and its produce and some were even lucky enough to bring produce home.
“The garden yielded many varieties of potatoes and the feedback was that they were very tasty. All the time, the children from fifth class were making notes and taking photos of the garden. They were so motivated they even gave up their lunch times to attend to it.
“This award is a huge achievement for our school and it has given us a great boost for the new school year. It’s fantastic to learn that our efforts are been noted,” Ms Tuohy emphasised.