PRESIDENT of Ireland Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina will visit Ennis this Saturday where they will pay tribute to all those behind the county capital’s success in being named Ireland’s Tidiest Town in 2021.
The couple will attend a ceremony at President Higgins’ former secondary school of St Flannan’s College and during the visit he will unveil a plaque marking Ennis’ win in the national competition.
Ennis Tidy Towns’ chairman Cormac McCarthy tells us that the local committee are “over the moon” to be hosting the president and his wife. He reveals that the ceremony will be particularly focused on the important role that the local community had in securing the win for Ennis.
“It’s going to be a wonderful event and we have had great support in the organisation from St Flannan’s College, where the president went to secondary school, as well as getting logistical support from the Ennis Municipal District which is very appreciated.”
Ennis Tidy Towns have a “lovely event” planned, and while they have to adhere to protocols Cormac tells us, “where there is scope to put our own stamp on it we are very much doing that”.
“For us the emphasis of the day is going to be on community. At the moment we have 170 people who have RSVPd and it is going to be a really great event. The excitement has been building for the last week or so within Ennis Tidy Towns planning for the visit, and now the end is in sight and it is going to be brilliant.
“We have a lot of sports clubs in the town and the children are going to form a guard of honour for President and Mrs Higgins as they come into St Flannan’s and we have lots of things planned for the ceremony.
“The key thing for us is that this would really reflect the community effort that was required for us to win the competition last year. Also we are helping to support local businesses and suppliers through the event. We have local businesses doing the food and the printing of the invitations. This is just our way of having a wonderful event while also getting to give back to local businesses for their support at the same time.”
While the committee have been busy preparing for the visit, the ongoing work of Ennis Tidy Towns has continued.
“A huge amount of effort has been put into the presidential visit but I’m sure people would notice that we’re back out and about, there is great work being done by the volunteers. We’re still out there doing our weekly, and sometimes daily, litterpick so if anybody is interested in getting involved with us, we’d love to hear from them.”
The committee just recently entered their submission for this year’s competition.
“We are developing a range of projects that will roll into next year. For people who are involved in Tidy Towns there is no off period. A lot of our work through the winter and spring is in developing new projects and we are delighted to have a few of those in train at the moment.”
The committee have entered a “strong” submission and they hope to do well, however he says it is near impossible that a town would secure two national titles in a row.
“We are not ruling it out, but it would be an amazing feat if we did. What we are finding is, like in all those years that we were one or two points off winning, it gave a real fire in the belly to the group.
“I think now a lot of those groups last year who were point or two off winning, the likes of Cobh and others, they are pushing hard to win it this year. And it is only right and fair that the prize wouldn’t go to the same group every year.
“We have put in a very strong submission this year, and if we do win then brilliant. And if we don’t, I can honestly say hand on heart we would be delighted for whoever does win it because the last 12 months for us has just been phenomenal.
“There has been so much goodwill in the town, people coming up to volunteers and congratulating them. There has been a great longevity to the buzz from the win. It has been a really, really lovely six months since we won it. And we are still Ireland’s Tidiest Town up until the next award so we are going to capitalise on that and make the most of it.”