It took more than a half- century of whole-hearted commitment but finally Letterkenny has won the title of the country’s Tidiest Town.
The Co Donegal town, which has been in the competition from the very start, beat challenges from 861 other towns and villages across the country to become the third town in Donegal to win the overall award since the event began in 1958.
However, it was a close-run thing, with the winning score of 323 just one mark ahead of runners-up Clonegal, Co Carlow (Tidiest Village); Listowel, Co Kerry (Tidiest Small Town), and Westport, Co Mayo (Tidiest Large Town), which all scored 322.
What set Letterkenny apart for the judges was its landscaping and treatment of its open spaces which was variously described as outstanding, excellent and magnificent and earned the town 49 marks out of a possible 50.
Ironically, the town did not score particularly high on tidiness and litter control, earning just 53 points out of a possible 90, but litter control was still rated very good for a town of 20,000 and the main problem spots identified were undeveloped sites.
Particular praise was reserved for the town’s green areas, but just about everywhere got the gardener’s touch with a remarkable 30,557 summer plants planted in the town centre.
The work was carried out by a Tidy Towns committee of 18, with participants from the Community Employment Scheme, an army of volunteers and the county council, and the end result means that Glenties, which has won the national award five times, and Malin, which has won twice, now have a new rival within Donegal.
While Tidy Towns is a team effort, some people go the extra mile and 10 Tidy Towns Heroes were honoured, with the overall award going to Charles Henderson of Kinsale Tidy Towns, Co Cork.
Two new categories this year were the Youth Award, which went to Togher, Co Cork, as the entrant that best involved children and young people in their efforts, and the Diversity Award, which went to Wexford for best involving the town’s multi-ethnic community.
Prize money totalled €250,000 and more than 200 prizes were awarded in categories that also included best gum litter taskforce, best tree project, best use of Irish and best improvers.
Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly sang the praises of all involved.
“The enthusiasm of all those involved in the Tidy Towns effort results in the attractive, well-cared for towns and village we see throughout the country,” said Mr Kelly.
Martin Kelleher, managing director of SuperValu, Tidy Towns sponsor for the last 24 years, said: “The incredible dedication shown by the volunteers involved is admirable and continues to amaze us year after year.”
The full results and individual adjudication reports for all entrants is available at www.tidytowns.ie
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