Clonakilty picks up key award 10 weeks after flood

The true grit shown by Clonakilty was rewarded yesterday when the West Cork town claimed the award for the country’s tidiest small town — 10 weeks after being devastated by floods.

The town, awarded 309 marks out of maximum of 400, has been a consistent Tidy Town contender for the top prizes since winning the national title in 1999.

Judges congratulated the town for an excellent performance during a very challenging year because of the flood damage.

Catherine O’Connor, the joint chairperson of Clonakilty Tidy Towns, said residents thought their chances of being among the top winners in the competition were dashed on Jun 28 when the town was flooded.

“We thought we were in a bit of trouble but the way the community responded was just incredible. Everyone came out and helped. It was a fantastic display of civic spirit.”

Mayor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin said some of the people on the committee had their property flooded twice over the summer.

“Despite the devastation caused to their own properties they still went out and brushed the streets for the greater good over the summer,” he said.

Two volunteers have not yet returned to their homes since they were flooded.

The title of Ireland’s tidiest town was won by Abbeyshrule, Co Longford, a village with just 150 residents that also claimed the award for Ireland’s tidiest village.

Abbeyshrule removed all of its street litter bins three years ago to encourage people to take their rubbish home. The winning village beat a record 855 entries — up from 821 last year.

Committee chairman Philip Butler said the village had previously won a gold medal and everyone had been working hard over the years towards achieving the overall prize.

“We have been participating in the competition over the last 30 years. It is all about making the best of your place in a simple way.”

Mr Butler said the village decided to remove all of the bins because people were putting domestic rubbish in them to avoid paying charges.

“Since we got rid of the bins, there has been no litter in the village because people are more conscious of how clean it is and bring their litter home.”

Mr Butler said it was not difficult to get people involved in keeping the village tidy because they could see the results for themselves.

“It is a farming village so it is difficult to keep it tidy to a high standard but we manage to do it,” he said.

Other winners included Westport, Co Mayo, which received the award of Ireland’s tidiest large town and Ennis, Co Clare, which was named Ireland’s tidiest large urban centre.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan presented the SuperValu Tidy Towns Award for 2012 in front of almost 1,000 volunteers from all over the country.

Mr Hogan said Abbeyshrule was a worthy winner. The picturesque River Inny and Royal Canal flow through the village that was awarded 312 points.

“I continue to be impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of all those involved in the competition,” he said.

“The results of their efforts are to be seen in attractive, well cared for towns and villages throughout the country.

“It is clear that working together, getting out there, and getting things done increases people’s pride in where they live and helps to build stronger communities.”

The Tidy Town competition is organised by the Department of the Environment.

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