Tidy effort by Kerry committees
The most prestigious national titles eluded Kerry's 38 Tidy Towns committees this year, but this year's statistics and reports have guaranteed that 2017 will have to be filed as a success for the Kingdom - and for Listowel, in particular.
In total, Kerry entrants' combined points rose by almost 300, and that's without including the very respectable performances by each of the county's six new entrants.
With a superb mark of 329 - just three points less than 2017 National Award Winners Birdhill, Tipperary, and an improvement of four points on the town's 2016 score - Listowel took the Kerry county prize on Monday, edging out excellent efforts by fellow gold medallists and the delighted teams from Killarney, Kenmare and Tralee.
"Listowel is a wonderful town in which to spend time for any occasion and has a wide variety of experiences to offer the local and wider community," the national adjudicators said of the town's 2017 entry, an application that secured a tenth gold medal in a row.
"The standard of litter control and tidiness on adjudication day was second to none and we salute everyone who was involved in this supreme effort. The standard of tidiness was no less impressive with a pleasing attention to detail given to signage, litter bins, substation boxes and seating areas throughout the town."
Listowel Tidy Towns Vice-Chairperson Councillor Jimmy Moloney praised "a real cross-community effort" in securing yet another accolade for a town that was only narrowly denied a third consecutive national award for towns of between 2,501 and 5,000 people.
"Clonakilty beat us by a point in the small towns category this year, but you can't be disappointed because the standard is so high," he said. "Even in Kerry alone, you're up against very strong competition, so to hear we had won the Kerry prize above in the Helix in Dublin on Monday was fantastic. Any year you win a gold medal or a county prize is a good year.
"I'd like to thank all our volunteers; Kerry County Council staff; workers on the Rural Social and CE schemes; the people and businesses of Listowel; schools; the residents' association; and our new chamber alliance.
But while the performances by Listowel, Killarney, Kenmare and Tralee were impressive, some of Kerry's smaller towns and villages were also at the forefront of Monday's results.
Sneem's brilliant haul of 325 points was enough to secure a silver medal, while South Kerry will also welcome two bronze medals as both Knightstown and Portmagee won the judges' acclaim.
Some of the best improvements were noted in Duagh, Ballylongford, and Caherdaniel, but an endeavour prize was bestowed upon Finuge after it improved its score by an astonishing 26 points from 2016. Castleisland Tidy Towns' Water Explorers also won a SuperValu Youth Award, rounding off a successful year's work for Kerry.
Tralee meanwhile was celebrating after it improved its points tally by two (to 314) and secured its sixth consecutive Gold Medal.