Table-toppers Fermoy take pride of place
Judging panel awarded every site it surveyed in the town top marks
"It is rare to visit a town with an almost complete absence of litter, not just in the town centre but also in residential and other areas surveyed - with all the sites getting the top litter grade."
These comments from the An Taisce judging panel were music to the ears of volunteers in Fermoy this week after it emerged the town was placed top of the pile in the latest edition of the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) league.
With the exception of last year, when the town was not included, Fermoy has performed particularly well in the annual IBAL competition, finishing in the top three on three separate occasions.
An Taisce assessed litter levels over the summer months on behalf of IBAL in 40 towns and cities across the country - with Fermoy being crowned as the Cleanest Town in Ireland and regaining the coveted 'Cleaner Than European Norms' designation which it lost back in 2016.
Paul Kavanagh, project manager for the Fermoy Tidy Towns Group, said this was a wonderful achievement for Fermoy, coming off the back of winning the 'Best Improved Town' category in Cork County Council's Anti-Litter Challenge and breaking the "magical 300-point barrier" in the SuperValu Tidy Towns Competition.
"This is fantastic news for everyone involved. We started the journey of making Fermoy a cleaner town just five years ago and are now in a strong challenging position for the overall IBAL national top spot, which will be announced in January," said Mr Kavanagh.
He said the latest IBAL standing was a reflection of the hard work done since the establishment of the 'Fermoy A Cleaner Town' initiative five years ago.
"We are all volunteers and with the cooperation of Fermoy Forum representing local business, Residents Associations, Cork County Council staff, Avondhu Blackwater Development Ltd and the Fermoy Image Improvement Community Employment Scheme, we have been successful in changing people's bad habits into good habits," said Mr Kavanagh.
He said the formation of the Town Co-operation Committee had helped bring these various groups under a single umbrella to help make Fermoy a better place to live, work, shop and do business in.
He cited the Barnane River Walk, which had become a "huge litter problem", as a perfect example of how a community effort can make a huge difference to the environment.
"Our group, in association with the Municipal Council and Fermoy Rowing Club, has voluntarily used our own bins and successfully proved they are used correctly by young and old alike. Moreover, we have changed people's attitudes, and there is now a huge civic pride in Fermoy town and how clean it is," said Mr Kavanagh.
"Together, we want to attract tourists and new business to Fermoy, and by working together we have ensured that Fermoy is 'a cleaner town'. This result was just the motivation we all needed to go on and do the extra work, to go the extra mile and put Fermoy firmly on the map and show its true potential."
Fermoy's report card
Cork Road Approach - Grade A:
'Clean, welcoming entrance to Fermoy from the south. The area was free from litter and the recently planted shrubs have added to the overall appearance of this route'.
St Colman's College Sports Grounds- Grade A:
'Very large sports grounds attached to a school, open to the public. Signage relating to the usage of the grounds was very clear and clean. It was a very clean and well maintained environment. Overall, this was an excellent site'.
Ploemeur Car Park Mill Island - Grade A:
'Medium sized car park in the centre of the town. The car park was very fresh in presentation with car park surface, markings and signage in very good order. It was spotless throughout'.
Patrick Street - Grade A:
'The overall impression created here was of a well-presented and well-maintained main shopping street. Clearly a careful eye is kept on the vacant / derelict buildings as there was no litter directly associated with same'.
Recycle Facility in Library Car Park - Grade A:
'A recycling facility, predominately used for recycling glass. The site was clean with no litter items to report to the front or rear of the recycle units'.
Chapel Square - Grade A:
'A residential square adjacent to a large church, with the centre of the road acting as a small car park. There was a complete absence of litter throughout the area surveyed'.
Fermoy Town Park - Grade A:
'If a Grade A+ existed Fermoy Town Park would be deserving of such a grade. The park has been attractively landscaped and the large old trees added to the sense of greenery throughout. It was exceptionally clean with regard to litter and it is clearly a very well respected environment'.
St Bernard's Place - Grade A:
'A small, older residential development consisting of terraced and semi-detached houses opposite the train station. Pride of place is evident here with many pretty front gardens - another site in Fermoy which was devoid of all litter'.
Dublin Road Approach - Grade A:
'Very clean road with just tiny amounts of litter on occasion. This road created a very positive first impression of Fermoy from Dublin / North direction'.
M8 / R639: Cork - Fermoy Link Road- Grade A:
'(Dunkettle interchange North to Junction 15 on M8 and then finally R639 into Fermoy). This hilly broad road was clean. Road works were present close to Rathcormac, and here the road and verges were especially clean'.