Up to 200 people from across the region started work at 6am along a 6km stretch of road between Innishannon and Bandon.
It was part of a major spring clean of the road which, to many people, is the gateway to the region.
“We found all kinds of everything, from the endless numbers of plastic bottles to advertising signs and election posters,” said best-selling author and Innishannon resident Alice Taylor.
The clean-up was organised by Tidy Towns groups from Innishannon and Bandon and supported by sister groups in Clonakilty, Ballineen, Ballinascarthy, Courtmacsherry, and Crossbarry.
“There was such a huge number of volunteers that we later managed to clean all the approach roads into Innishannon as well,” said Ms Taylor.
She said there were plans for other West Cork villages and towns to join up and clean link roads and adjoining roads.
“It is doable,” she said, adding that several trailer loads of rubbish bags were delivered to the local authority collection point.
“I feel the message went out to people that we must take responsibility for our own roads. People living on the roads should look after them and do it themselves because that is the only we can keep our roads clean — we must take ownership of our roads,” Ms Taylor added.
The group’s decision to erect a large sign several weeks ago calling for volunteers for the clean-up had an unexpected effect, she said.
“As well as calling attention to our need for volunteers it also made people actually see the rubbish — often they are unaware of the litter levels, but once they started to see it they were horrified.”
The event, sparked by a letter written by Courtmacsherry resident Michael Hurley protesting about the constant dumping along the stretch of road, was a huge success, said Ms Taylor.
Volunteers. she said, had to face a 6am start as it was a quiet time when the usually heavy traffic on that route was not an issue.
“It was very much a community effort on behalf of several Tidy Town committees,” she said, adding that she wished to pay special tribute to the gardaí and Cork County Council for their support.