All hands on deck as the Entente judges hit town
Irish hopes in one of Europe's most prestigious civic competitions - the Entente Florale - are riding on Listowel as the tidiest town in the country welcomes contest judges from seven countries within a matter of days.
Thursday, July 25, is D-Day for Listowel and Ireland as the judges jet into town, where they are to be treated to the full fanfare of a real Listowel welcome - before setting off around town to see the Tidy Towns magic for themselves.
"It's all hands on deck now and we're calling on everyone to make an extra special effort now, as they always do in fairness," Mayor of Listowel and Tidy Towns member Jimmy Moloney told The Kerryman.
"This is the most important competition of its kind in all of Europe so we're really looking forward to making sure the judges enjoy the very best of Listowel. And we've a great start on it with the town looking fantastic already," Cllr Moloney added.
He said the day will begin with a special ceremony in the Square at 9.30am, before he escorts the judges right around town as they weigh-up the national Tidy Towns standard bearer in a European context.
Among the treats in store for the judges are: the Town Park and Garden of Europe; the fruit and nut orchard and the Dandy Lodge; Áras Phádraig and Listowel Library; Listowel Community Centre (where they are to stop for coffee); Listowel Castle and the Seanchaí (taking lunch in the latter); the John Paul II Cemetery; the Ashfield Estate; the Lartigue and more before returning to the Square where music and entertainment will be laid on for the entourage in St John's Theatre.
It's a case of putting the best foot forward now by all in town. "We're delighted to be working with the Business and Community Alliance on this too, with the seven countries from which the judges hail to inspire bright displays on shopfronts across town. We'll be flying their flags proud as well on the day," Cllr Moloney said.
Tidy Towns founder member Mary Hanlon also paid tribute to everyone in town for the current appearance: "Listowel is looking fantastic and that's a credit to everyone. It is just a case of pulling out all the stops now to ensure a brilliant reception for the judges.
"This kind of thing does not come easy, but we never envisaged when the Tidy Towns was formed 26 years ago we would come to hold 11 gold medals and an Irish overall title. Nothing is impossible!" Mary said.