More than 10,000 volunteers of all ages clad in hi-vis gear swept through Limerick city and county yesterday leaving a trail of spick-and-span neighbourhoods in their wake.
In one of the biggest community efforts of its kind ever seen in Ireland , Team Limerick Clean-up (TLC), led by JP McManus and Paul O’Connell, amassed more than 40,000 bags of rubbish at 60 different locations during a three hour onslaught.
However, the day didn’t go so smoothly for one volunteer — a 75-year-old doing his bit to clean up the Canal Bank walkway off Clare Street fell into the water while trying to retrieve a life ring.
A jogger who was passing by at the time managed to make contact with the man and held him by his arms until emergency services arrived at the scene.
Members of the Limerick Fire Service launched its specially trained Swift Water Rescue Unit, which pulled the man to safety. Members of Limerick Marine Search and Rescue Service also attended the incident.
The man was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick, where his condition is said to be stable.
With the overall clean-up job done, well-deserved cuppas were served in proud community centres to toast the day’s efforts.
Businessman JPMcManus said a simple idea had borne a fantastic community effort.
Accompanied by champion jockey Tony McCoy, who rides at Fairyhouse today, Mr McManus said: “TLC is about neighbours doing something meaningful and I never imagined it would become what is has today.
“I hope this is the start of something which will continue. It is very exciting and great to see so many people embracing this event and you never know what it will lead to. It would be nice if it became an annual Good Friday event.”
Munster and Ireland rugby hero Paul O’Connell was joined by his son, Paddy.
Paul said: “Certainly for me and my family, this TLC day has created a healthy discussion about the importance of looking after your community, taking pride in your area, and how litter-picking plays a huge part in this.”
Brother Anthony of Glenstal Abbey joined the Island boatmen in the hazardous job of cleaning the riverside banks near the Curraghour Falls by King John’s Castle.
One of the driving forces behind the TLC operations is Limerick businesswoman Helen O’Donnell.
She said: “For some years we have a city centre tidy town group and meet twice a week to tackle litter.””
By yesterday afternoon, Joe Cleary and six volunteer crews from Mr Binman were faced with disposing of the fruits of a great day’s labour
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