THE MARBLE City of Kilkenny is Ireland's best litter-free spot.
It pipped Cavan and Killarney to take the top place in the annual Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) final.
And a survey showed that 80pc of Irish towns are as clean or cleaner than their European counterparts.
This is the first time Kilkenny city, ranked litter-free for the past four years, has won the competition. It was one of 22 towns to be deemed 'cleaner than European norms' this year.
In its judges remarks, An Taisce, which conducts the litter surveys, said all of the sites surveyed for litter in Kilkenny were clean and that the approach roads were in particularly good order.
"The footpath and road surface along High Street have been very attractively paved and The Parade looked fantastic – a wide open sweep, flanked by trees to one side and terraced buildings to the other."
The judges singled out the riverbank area for special mention as it had previously been problematic but all graffiti had been erased.
To mark its success, the town will receive 10 copper beech trees provided by the Irish Tree Centre, in Cork.
Speaking at the awards ceremony in Dublin, IBAL chairman Dr Tom Cavanagh likened the progress made on litter to that of road safety.
"Each January, we hear the welcome news that the numbers killed on our roads has again fallen.
"In particular, the attitude to drink driving has been transformed in a way that would have seemed unthinkable some years ago.
" There are parallels with the improvements we are now seeing in cleanliness levels.
"We might have viewed ourselves traditionally as a less than tidy nation, but the results tell a different story."