The win for Skerries marks just the second time that a Dublin entry has won the national prize, in 58 years of the competition. Malahide won the award in 1990.
Skerries scooped the national prize with 327 marks. It was followed closely by Birdhill, Co Tipperary, and Ennis, Co Clare, with both entries earning themselves 326 marks each.
However, Birdhill claimed the prize for Ireland’s Tidiest Village and Ennis was declared Ireland’s Tidiest Large Urban Centre. Listowel, Co Kerry, for the second year, was named as Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town.
All of the towns and villages were marked according to eight categories, which included landscaping and open spaces and community involvement and planning. The maximum score was 450 marks.
Skerries scored its highest mark in the landscaping and open spaces category — 44 out of 50 points.
The town also scored well in the built environment and streetscape section, securing 41 marks out of a possible 50.
Minister for Regional Economic Development Michael Ring presented the awards at a ceremony in Dublin.
“This is a fantastic achievement for Skerries, a really worthy winner. This is the first time Skerries has won the overall prize. Skerries first entered the competition in 1959 and its win today is evidence of it consistently achieving high standards in the competition at local and regional level,” Mr Ring said.
He added that the annual competition had become an integral part of Irish community life.
“How a community lives together, strives to involve all of its members and makes the most of their abilities and interests is integral to the ethos of Tidy Towns.
“Tidy Towns is one of the most recognisable environmental initiatives in Ireland, but Tidy Towns is much bigger than that, it encompasses a way of life here in Ireland, where we live our lives showing respect for our neighbours and for nature,” Mr Ring said.
The contest, which has been sponsored by SuperValu for the last 25 years, has had more than 800 entrants for the last five years.
“Tidy Towns celebrates the efforts of communities up and down the country and year after year we see the tremendous power of local as volunteers rally together to enhance their towns and villages.
“The competition continues to grow and the tireless dedication from young and old who give freely of their time for the betterment of their communities is truly inspiring,” Martin Kelleher, managing director of SuperValu said.
Several special awards were also given out as part of the Tidy Towns competition.
The Sustainable Development Award was given to the Edible Landscape Project, in Westport, Co Mayo. The project, which is an edible planting initiative, was awarded €1,000. Meanwhile, Monaghan Tidy Towns was given €5,000 for winning the Climate Change Award.
Munster close to a clean sweep
Ennis, Birdhill, and Listowel were among the big winners in the Tidy Towns as Munster just missed out on a clean sweep at the awards.
Although the top prize went to Skerries in Dublin, the other top prizes all went to towns and villages around Munster.
The last time a town from Munster took the top prize was in 2011, when Killarney was named Ireland’s tidiest town.
Finishing just one point behind Skerries this year was Birdhill, Co Tipperary, which was awarded the title of Ireland’s tidiest village. On the same score, Ennis in Clare took the prize for Ireland’s tidiest large urban centre, while Listowel in Kerry took the award for Ireland’s tidiest small town.
In its adjudication report on Birdhill, the Tidy Towns said its first impressions of the village were “beyond good”.
“Birdhill is a beautiful village and so much loved by its proud residents. Congratulations for the sustained efforts to keep the area at such a high standard.”
It notes “an abundance of all types of wildlife” all over the village and praised it for being “spotlessly clean and tidy with no litter found” on the day it was adjudicated.
Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill praised the people of the village for consistently placing highly at the awards.
“Birdhill has been top dogs in the national Tidy Towns competitions for nearly a decade, and they continue to do Tipperary proud. The local volunteers are an absolute credit to their community,” said Mr Cahill.
“Year after year, they keep the village looking immaculate. Congratulations to everyone involved. I’ve no doubt they will be back doing the hard graft very soon as they prepare for next year’s competition.”
Ennis was singled out as having its eye on the top prize in the adjudicator’s remarks, and received high praise for its landscaping and open spaces.
“Ennis is a thriving, bustling town with an energy which comes from being open and welcoming. It was a real pleasure for this adjudicator to spend some time enjoying local life,” states the report.
Listowel, Co Kerry, also took high marks for its landscaping and open spaces as well as its community involvement and planning.
Kerry TD John Brassil paid tribute to the “incredibly hard-working and dedicated” local Tidy Towns committee.
“The volunteers are an absolute credit to their community. They have helped put Listowel’s best foot forward, and they should be commended for all their hard work,” he said.
Towns and villages from all across Munster took home 14 gold medals at the awards.
The gold medals went to Coolagown, Co Cork; Rathbarry, Co Cork; Rosscarbery, Co Cork; Sneem, Co Kerry; Lismore, Co Waterford; Listowel, Co Kerry; Kilrush, Co Clare; Clonakilty, Co Cork; Kenmare, Co Kerry; Kinsale, Co Cork; Killarney, Co Kerry; Cobh, Co Cork; Ballincollig, Co Cork; Tralee, Co Kerry; and Clonmel, Co Tipperary.