OVERSEAS visitors to The Gathering could have their experience ruined by litter strewn around Dublin's north inner city, which is revealed today as Ireland's dirtiest place.
Only seven Irish towns are worse than the European average in the 2012 Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) name-and-shame litter league.
But " absentee and neglectful landlords" are being blamed for making the capital's north inner city the country's only litter blackspot.
IBAL chairman Dr Tom Cavanagh warned that the state of the area could mar the enjoyment of those coming here for The Gathering.
"Given that a great number of visitors to Ireland may be exposed to these areas not long after landing in Dublin, this performance risks tarnishing The Gathering experience," he said.
Dr Cavanagh said there was now a contrast in the fortunes of two Dublin areas.
"The north inner city has recorded one of the worst results we've seen in the past 10 years," he said.
"Yet there has been a remarkable turnaround in the airport environs, and this is due to Fingal County Council reworking its cleaning schedules. The key routes are now being cleaned once a month where previously it was a wholly inadequate once a year.
"This makes quite a big difference to visitors arriving in this country."
IBAL is citing both absentee landlords and local property owners such as NAMA and Irish Rail as guilty parties contributing to the litter problem in the north inner city.
"On one hand, we have derelict buildings whose landlords are nowhere to be seen and so cannot be held to account for the surrounding litter and dumping," said Dr Cavanagh. "On the other, we have state-owned agencies who are just not fulfilling their obligations under the Litter Act to keep the areas outside and within their premises free of litter.
"There is no quick fix, but a first step is to enforce the Litter Act on these property owners."
Dr Cavanagh said the payback in terms of Dublin being a clean city for both residents and visitors would be undeniable.
Some 80pc of Ireland's towns and cities are as clean as or cleaner than the European average, according to IBAL.
Only six are moderately littered: Maynooth, Carlow, Dundalk, Dublin (the centre's main tourist stretches such as Grafton Street and O'Connell Street, but excluding the north inner city), Limerick city and Cork city.
The cleanest town in the country will be named today from a shortlist of Cavan, Kilkenny and Killarney.
For the first time since IBAL started the league in 2002 in conjunction with the Department of the Environment , there were no towns in the "littered" or "seriously littered" categories.
Dog fouling and gum were prevalent everywhere, the former particularly in Wexford and Tramore, where dogs are walked on the promenades. The student town of Maynooth was notable for chewing gum, as was Tallaght town centre.