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Michael Richards and Margaret Quinn, holding trophies, surrounded by Ennis Tidy Towns Volunteers celebrating their recent Ireland’s Tidiest Town 2021 award. Photograph by John Kelly

‘This is something the whole town achieved’

Ennis Tidy Towns chairman pays tribute to volunteer spirit of diverse set of partners

ENNIS cleaned up at this year’s SuperValu Tidy Towns awards taking home the overall title of Ireland’s Tidiest Town 2021.
“We are over the moon. This is the first time in 16 years, and only the second time since the competition started that we have brought the prize back to Ennis,” Ennis Tidy Towns chairman Cormac McCarthy told the Clare Champion after the announcement.
“This is a testament not only to our volunteers, and we have a wonderful committee, but we very much accepted the award on behalf of the entire town.
“Our submission every year is peppered with projects that Ennis Tidy Towns partner with other groups on. Then there is the wonderful landscaping around the town and how clean the streets are kept by the council staff.
“We partner with Macra na Feirme, Ennis Sub-Aqua Club, the Brothers of Charity, HSE Dulick centre, schools, businesses, so many groups. This is something the whole town achieved.”
He added, “We would also really like to thank the community for their efforts during lockdown. Even though there was no competition then, we afforded people the opportunity to get litter pickers that they could use within their 5km and we have a huge take up on that.
“We got lovely photographs of families and particularly kids out and it was really heart-warming to see.”
Cormac also paid tribute to all of the local media including The Clare Champion for their role in getting the word out about the projects being undertaken.
While there were celebrations, the award ceremony was also bitter sweet for the Ennis committee who felt the loss of one of their most dedicated members Bridie Frawley who passed away earlier this year.
“You couldn’t meet anyone with more passion and dedication to Tidy Towns. We all know that Bridie is looking down on us and she’s smiling.
“She’s absolutely over the moon for us, but we would have loved to have her here to share our success.”
The overall award wasn’t the only win for the county capital, with a total of ten awards presented to the Ennis committee at a scaled-back event held in the RDS.
Ennis was also named Ireland’s Tidiest Large Urban Centre at this year’s ceremony, claimed the South-West and Mid-West Regional Award, and was winner of the Clare County Award.
In both the Sustainable Development Goals Award and the Gum Litter Taskforce Award, Ennis was winner in the Large Town and Large Urban Centre Category.
Ennis received awards in the South West and Mid West category in the Waters and Communities Special Award and in the South-West and Mid-West (Large Town) category in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan – Local Authority Pollinator Award.
Ennis Tidy Towns was second runner-up in the Climate Action and Air Quality Award.
The Ennis Tidy Towns volunteers placed a strong emphasis on sustainability and biodiversity in their submission, with Cormac saying it was “fantastic” that they won the Sustainable Development Goals Award in its first year.
“People often think Tidy Towns is all about litter picking or removing graffiti, and that is a big part of it in that you want the town to be very welcoming looking.
“But a huge amount of what we have done is developing projects based on sustainability, biodiversity and the circular economy.
“For instance we worked with Clare Roots Society and Larry Brennan to develop a project based on the lanes and bow-ways.”
Ennis may have won this year’s title, but there is no rest for the volunteers with Cormac saying, “The thing with Tidy Towns is you can never take your foot off the pedal.
“Last year we were within a point of winning, the previous year it was about two points. So we have always been in the top 1% for at least the last 10 years.
“A lot of this is built on the shoulders of previous committees, previous volunteers and chairpersons, so it is never a one-year situation. It is always about building on your success year-on-year.
“Our submission went in the first week in July, and we started developing new projects the same week. You don’t take a break when you’re the top 1%. It is 12 months a year.
“People might not see us on a Monday evening in Abbey Street car park because it’s dark but I can guarantee you there are people who are litter picking day in, day out and there are people in the background, developing lots and lots of projects for the following year’s submission.”
He added that Ennis Tidy Towns has an “open door policy” for those who wish to work with the volunteers on projects and he encouraged them to get in touch.
“The more groups we have working together and sharing resources and knowledge, then you are going to get a lot more of these projects.
“And the more projects, the better the town is for everyone whether you’re coming to visit, a tourist or you live and work in the area. We would love to hear from schools or community groups, individuals or organisations, please get in touch by social media or email. We’d love to hear from you.”
Ennis’ win as Ireland’s Tidiest Town for a second time “demonstrates that resilience and determination do reap rewards,” Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys commented.
Speaking after the awards ceremony, Minister Humphreys said, “This is a fantastic achievement for Ennis who are very deserving winners.
“Ennis first entered the SuperValu TidyTowns competition in 1959 and continue to showcase all that is good about community and volunteerism.
“They have been consistently achieving high standards in the competition at local, regional, national and European level and won the competition previously in 2005.
“Given the tremendous interest in the competition and the increasing efforts made by all entrants, it is a wonderful achievement to take the national title for a second time; this really demonstrates that resilience and determination do reap rewards.”
She congratulated all the prize winners and commended the thousands of volunteers across the country for their efforts during an “unprecedented period” due to Covid-19.

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