Clean sweep as charming rural village picks up top two prizes
A Co Louth village yesterday won the title of Ireland's tidiest town. And just to confuse matters, Tallanstown also walked off with the tidiest village accolade in the Tidy Towns competition.
The town/village, which has a population of 600, also picked up two other awards, including the midlands east regional winner and a gold medal.
The judges praised the Tallanstown tidy town committee for managing to carry out work that complements its rural setting "without overpowering or detracting from it".
Committee chairman Richard Barry admitted: "It's not been an overnight success. It will mean an awful lot to the community because we were a very run-of-the-mill, probably not very nice village at all and we set to making it a better village. Our basic aim is to make Tallanstown a better place to live in, to work in and to visit."
Tallanstown, the youngest village in Louth, sits on the banks of the Glyde and is beside the Louth Hall estate, the ancient home of St Oliver Plunkett's family. It also featured prominently in the legends of Cuchulainn.
The village was also associated with the Foster family and a sculpture in the village commemorates Vere Foster, who helped set up our national schools and developed the famous handwriting copy books.
Tallanstown was awarded 308 points out of 400, up from its score of 304 last year. A quirk in the rules allowed Tallanstown to enter both tidiest village and tidiest town categories due to its population of 600.
The local committee received a trophy and a €10,000 cheque.
It is the first time the Louth village has won the title, although it has won a number of minor awards in the competition in recent years. The judges said the standard of landscaping throughout the village was very high, while the approach to litter helped to push up its points.
"Your emphasis on communicating the anti-litter message to the community and the liaison with the younger generations is very much the way to go," said the judges' report.
Environment Minister John Gormley, presenting the prizes at the Helix in DCU yesterday, said it was a remarkable achievement for Tallanstown to take the top award in the face of strong competition.
Ray Kelly, marketing director of competition sponsor SuperValu, said: "Tidy Towns is the public expression of the work countless individuals undertake to build community spirit."
Meanwhile, Lismore, Co Waterford, was voted Ireland's tidiest small town, while Killarney, Co Kerry, took the award for the tidiest large town. Kilkenny was named as the country's tidiest large urban centre.
The winner of the schools award was Ardee Educate Together national school, Co Louth. Regional winners were Skerries, Dublin; Ennis, the mid west; Tallanstown, midlands east; Letterkenny, north west; Emly, south east; Killarney, south west; and Westport, west.
Other winners include Visual Arts Centre, Co Carlow, for the architectural award; Mullaghmore Harbour Project, Co Sligo in the heritage section; Bere Island, Co Cork, in the islands section; and Carraig Airt, Co Donegal, in the Gaeltacht division.
A special climate change award was picked up by Lismore, Co Waterford, while a new smarter travel award went to Ballymun in Dublin.