The Banner capital beat almost 700 other entrants to win the prized title of Ireland’s Tidiest Town for the first time.
However, Ennis was branded one of Ireland’s worst litter black spots in the latest survey by the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) a fortnight ago.
Ennis Mayor Frank Neylon said the town’s success in the Tidy Towns competition was proof of how well the local Tidy Towns committee and local authority had worked.
“We were very disappointed with the IBAL survey but we have proven that it was wrong,” said Mr Neylon.
He also expressed annoyance with remarks made by IBAL chairman Dr Tom Cavanagh about Ennis’s poor performance in the litter survey.
“There must be a better way to criticise the tidiest town in Ireland,” Mr Neylon said.
Ennis Tidy Town committee member Theresa McGrath said she had been concerned the town’s poor performance in the litter league would jeopardise its chances in the Tidy Towns competition.
“It wasn’t good for morale,” she said.
“However, this is our Liam MacCarthy [Cup].”
Her colleague Mary McAllister said: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I think [the IBAL survey] was grossly unfair.”
Last night, Dr Cavanagh said the contrasting performance of Ennis in the two surveys was explained by the fact that litter was the sole focus for marks awarded by IBAL.
Litter control counts for just 40 marks of the possible 300 in the Tidy Towns competition. Ennis scored 35 in this category - one of its poorest marks in any section.
Tidy Towns organisers said some litter was evident in the town centre during visits by inspectors. In particular, it identified a problem with cigarette butts.
“There is no doubt that Ennis has been transformed in recent years and it is a very attractive town,” said Dr Cavanagh.
He said he was aware that Ennis was unhappy with the results of an earlier IBAL survey which had led the organisation to ensure it had photographic evidence of litter in the town.
“Ennis is beautiful but that is the built environment. Our survey showed a problem with litter,” said Dr Cavanagh.
“I am delighted with Ennis’s win in the Tidy Towns and hopefully it can be described as litter-free in future because it is a model for any other town.”
Apart from Ennis, the other main winners in the Tidy Towns competition included Moynalty, Co Meath, which was named Ireland’s Tidiest Village.
Lismore, Co Waterford, which last week won a gold award for representing Ireland in the European Entente Florale competition, was named Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town.
Other entrants to receive a Gold Medal Award for achieving high standards were Aughrim, Co Wicklow; Glenties, Co Donegal; Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow; Clonakilty, Co Cork; Kenmare, Co Kerry; Westport, Co Mayo; Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny; Killarney, Co Kerry and Letterkenny, Co Donegal.
At the other end of the scale, the Westmeath village of Streamstown recorded the lowest score of all entrants, receiving just 129 marks out of a possible total of 300.
Streamstown is one of the consistently worst performers in the competition, although it improved on last year’s score by two marks.
Junior Environment Minister Batt O’Keeffe described the competition, which is organised by the his department and sponsored by Super Valu, as “the foremost environmental initiative in Ireland”.
“The fact that a town such as Ennis with a large, urban centre can win the overall title shows that every town and village in Ireland has the potential to become Ireland’s tidiest town,” said Mr O’Keeffe.
Ennis Tidy Towns committee chairman Donal Griffin accepted the €15,000 prize money and perpetual trophy on behalf of the town.
It was only the second time that the overall winner came from Co Clare.
The village of Mountshannon in the east of the county previously won the title in 1981.
CARLOW: Leighlinbridge (County Winner) 275 (mark) Clonegal (Highly Commended) 270 Ardattin (Commended) 260
CAVAN: Butlersbridge 243 Loch Gowna 238 Cavan 236
CLARE: Ennis 279 Mountshannon 269 Kilrush 267
CORK (NORTH): Castletownroche 256 Millstreet 247 Coolagown 246
CORK (S): Kinsale 268 Macroom 248 Youghal 243
CORK (WEST): Clonakilty 276 Eyeries 274 Rathbarry 273
DONEGAL: Glenties 276 Malin 270 Letterkenny 268
DUBLIN (C) Raheny 224 Temple Bar 221 Chapelizod 209
DUBLIN (DR) Dalkey 231 Dun Laoghaire 226 Ballybrack 213
DUBLIN (F) Skerries 263 Malahide 257 Ballyboughal 238
DUBLIN (S) Lucan 234 Ternure 217 Newcastle-Lyons 197
GALWAY: Abbey 259 Milltown 252 Mountbellew 250
KERRY: Kenmare 272 Killarney 270 Sneem 264
KILDARE Kill 256 Rathangan 252 Kilcullen 232
KILKENNY: Kilkenny 270 Inistioge 264 Tullahought 251
LAOIS: Castletown 272 Ballacolla 258 Clonaslee 256
LEITRIM: Dromod 274 Carrick-On-Shannon 250 Cloone 235
LIMERICK: Adare 263 Galbally 262 Ardpatrick 252
LONGFORD: Newtowncashel 273 Ardagh 266 Abbeyshrule 244
LOUTH: Tallanstown 268 Knockbridge 259 Dundalk 241
MAYO: Westport 278 Aughagower 259 Murrisk 256
MEATH: Moynalty 278 Athboy 240 Batterstown 239
MONAGHAN: Carrickmacross 261 Glaslough 251 Rockcorry 246
OFFALY: Clonbullogue 262 Geashill 255 Tullamore 250
ROSCOMMON: Keadue 276 Cloontuskert 262 Castlecoote 248
SLIGO: Coolaney 243 Ballintogher 237 Riverstown 234
TIPPERARY (N) Birdhill 269 Terryglass 265 Garrykennedy 257
TIPPERARY (S) Emly 267 Clonmel 244 Kilsheelan 241
WATERFORD: Lismore 278 Stradbally 275 Ardmore 257 WESTMEATH: Ballinahown 260 Tyrrellspass 248 Glasson 246
WEXFORD Craanford 244 Ballycullane 243 Blackwater 237
WICKLOW: Aughrim 277 Stratford-On-Slaney 246 Enniskerry 238
CARLOW: Hacketstown 197 (mark) 7.1 ( percentage improvement on 2004).
CAVAN: Redhills 221, 4.3
CLARE: Ruan 218, 5.8
CORK (NTH) Newmarket 194, 5.4
CORK (STH) Ballincollig 235, 3.1
CORK (W) Dunbeacon 170, 11.1
DONEGAL: Buncrana 233, 4.5
DUBLIN (CITY) Ballyfermot 197, 10.1
DUBLIN (DR) Sandycove 192, 1.6
DUBLIN (FINGAL) Balscadden 190, 13.1
DUBLIN (SOUTH) Lucan 234, 0.9
GALWAY: Moylough 178, 17.9
KERRY: Tralee 233, 5.9
KILDARE Brannockstown 206, 6.7
KILKENNY: Templeorum 195, 4.3
LAOIS: Raheen 188, 5.0
LEITRIM: Jamestown 173, 4.9
LIMERICK: Glenosheen 179, 9.8
LONGFORD Longford 215, 12.0
LOUTH: Reaghstown 235, 5.9
MAYO: Ballycroy 199, 11.8
MEATH: Castletown Kilpatrick 220, 10.0
MONAGHAN: Drum 170, 4.9
OFFALY: Crinkle 199, 7.0
ROSCOMMON Croghan 197, 11.3
SLIGO: Ballintogher 237, 3.0
TIPPERARY (NORTH) Kilcommon 203, 7.4
TIPPERARY (SOUTH) Clonoulty 204, 4.1
WATERFORD Ballyduff Lower 205, 5.7
WESTMEATH Ballinahown 260, 4.0
WEXFORD Gorey 217 8.0
WICKLOW Grange Con 217, 3.3.