By Anne Lucey
A national pollinator award picked up at the National Tidy Towns has a Kerry village buzzing again.
Sneem on the Ring of Kerry, became the first town in Kerry to win the national overall Tidy Town’s Award in 1987. However, this week, along with Clonmel, Ennis, Tullahought, Buncrana, Killeshandra, Swords and Geashill, it picked up a special Pollinator Award in the national competition in its first attempt, winning €1,000 for its efforts.
Almost 70 towns and villages had entered — Clonmel won overall pollinator.
Amid increasing awareness of what bees mean to man, for local people on the Ring of Kerry the 2018 pollinator award “means the world”, according to local community employment scheme supervisor Joe Murphy.
“The award is very important for the community. The whole community has taken the bee project to its heart. The school, the Men’s Shed, the beekeepers, as well as the Tidy Towns, are involved.”
It is a number of years since Sneem took on the Save the Pollinators project run by the national biodiversity data centre and local authorities’ biodiversity officers.
Since then, volunteers have taken to hand-weeding gardens rather than spraying chemicals, making sure grass patches are uncut to allow dandelions and cuckoo flowers to grow, and leaving bare earth and building up earthen banks.
Bee “hotels” from logs on south-facing walls have been put up.
The back wall of The Stone House Restaurant has murals of giant bees by local artist Roland Hunter.
Sneem has a busy beekeepers’ society holding markets with yellow bees wax candles and golden honey and its national school has taken bees to heart.
Earlier this year, the school harnessed the local love of bees for a national light energy saving project and created a giant Mr Bee as a logo for its “bee bright save light” campaign, delivering cardboard bees to houses in the village to remind them to save energy.
Scouts are also involved.
Businesswoman Sharon Evans, who runs an upholstery and gift shop in the village, said: “Everyone is involved. We are all using bee-friendly window boxes and flowers.”
Sneem has long enjoyed a reputation for thinking ahead of the buzz — it has enjoyed a diverse population for more than 50 years, with Europeans making Sneem their home.
French president Charles De Gaulle loved Sneem and the village has a monument to his pivotal visit in 1969 where he came to contemplate.
Sneem was also the retirement home of ex-president Cearbhall O’Dalaigh and a favourite of ex-taoiseach Bertie Ahern.