Wee County once again does well in community competition
County Louth celebrated one of the best performances ever in the national Tidy Towns competition this year. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, towns and villages across the county wowed the judging panel with a vast array of projects which not only improved landscapes and streetscapes but incorporated many environmental and climate action programmes.
Dundalk celebrated an incredible gold award, and a notable increase in points from 327 in 2019 to 344 in 2021.
Tidy Towns judges praised the work completed in the town centre, “Streetscape improvement work on Clanbrassil and Church Street which includes wider footpaths, improved pedestrian crossings, planting and seating, new public lighting street furniture and public art all look very impressive. The works proposed for Saint Nicholas Quarter/Backlands regeneration will surely enhance the area."
The ‘Facades’ project was also highlighted in the judges report: “ The often-neglected upper storeys of buildings have received a much needed facelift. Hopefully this project will continue beyond it's three year lifespan. The EPSO is very colorful and we can see why it has been hugely popular. The SEEK urban arts festival is also very colourful and adds much interest to bare walls.”
The report added: “Your planting of over 800 pollinator friendly plants and native hedging is encouraging to see. You obviously are well aware of changes in what is considered best practice in landscaping schemes."
“Well done to you on the three stranded approach to the inner relief road project. You managed to incorporate biodiversity, sustainability and public art all into one project. Well done on the work on Dundalk In Bloom, at Quay Street, Roden Place, Hill Street and at the Ramparts.”
Blackrock Tidy Towns were named as County award winners, with an incredible 460 points in the competition.
The judges were full of praise for the extensive range of projects ongoing in the village. “Congratulations on the new public lighting installed in Blackrock park which is powered by renewable energy source comprising of solar panels and wind turbine." The Green Flag Award for Parks and the work on the wooden pathway through the parks biodiversity garden was also praised.
“The TidyTowns competition is so competitive, that to feature in one of the main awards requires an enormous amount of planning and work."
The report highlighted: “It is wonderful that the Clermont hotel looks so well, especially as it must be in the backdrop of many photos of the innovative “Cocklepickers statue. Your three statues really add to the seafront. The Bring Banks were extremely well kept, but what made them stand apart was to have the information on the sustainable signs explaining how you can further live sustainably. “Do the earth a favour, be a power saver”, “Water, use if wisely”, its great to see all of the areas of sustainability being covered here. It is a great way to bring learning to life. This area provides a central heart to your commitment to pollinator planting and biodiversity, which is evident in so many areas around your town.”
Knockbridge, which scored 343 points and won a bronze medal in the competition, was also praised for the many improvement works carried out there over the last two years.
The judges outlined some of the highlights: “You have upgraded farm buildings at the village pump feature and completed the upgrade of Tourist Information Panels, redefined the lettering on heritage stones and works at St. Bride’s GFC continue. A new walking track has just been completed in the school grounds. It is great to hear of these and other projects that have been maintained and carried out.. You have replaced the roof and fence on the Fairy Fort, refurbished the Milk Churn feature, and carried out additional landscape work at the school including a child friendly fairy garden. The 40 native Irish trees should look wonderful in years to come. “
Dromiskin was another bronze medal winner, and the committee there were praised for the community approach to caring for their village,
“Well done to the thirteen individuals and family bubbles who undertook the weekly “Clean in 15” litter picking initiative. You've taken part in the national spring clean, carried out an analysis of litter, carried out beach cleanups, organize Facebook campaigns, carried out village litter patrols and cleaning of signage, won a gold medal in Louth County Councils litter league. It's encouraging to hear the weeding of your landscaped areas was undertaken without the use of herbicides or pesticides by your volunteers.Your rainwater harvesting initiative looks impressive and has obviously contributed to the reduction and use of treated water. You've also carried out a home composting initiative, and encouraged the Centra supermarket and St Joseph’s GFC to carry out an energy audit. .Well done to the residents of Church View housing estate on their upgrading of their landscaping beds. Innis Linn, The Hamlet, Rath Na Gloine, Commons Grove, Seabrook, Bealach Na Tuir housing estates have all been carrying out works to improve their areas. It is encouraging to see widespread community involvement.”
In Castlebellingham and Kilsaran, the judges noted the huge improvements in the streetscapes, with “new welcome and information signage on the village green with the history of Castlebellingham in English and Irish as well as the crescent heading towards Annagassan.”
The judges added: "It is encouraging to hear after works at Bellingham castle and off the repainting works carried out to the Church grounds. Well done on your work in maintaining your basketball / tennis court and playground facilities. They refurbishment works carried out to the World War One monument are also noted. Incorporation of images of Castlebellingham during the 1900s on the sides of derelict buildings is a good idea and will help to divert attention from the derelict buildings.”
In mid Louth, Ardee was also a gold medal winner with 340 points. The judges had specific praise for the sustainability projects “Well done and maintaining the number of different projects you have in this category. Monastery Boys School under energy efficient projects and their resulting 20% reduction in the school's energy use is impressive to hear. Well done also to the Ardee Active Retirement group in establishing a pollytunnel and in raising plants for use by the tidy towns group. Congratulations on your maintenance program on the verges, your Failte Beds and your branded Welcome Signs in helping to create a pleasing first impression.’
They also highlighted the future developments for the village “The news that Louth County Council has signed a significant contract with a specialist consultancy service to develop an initial framework for and ambitious and strategic project for the 2040 Rural Regeneration scheme is great to hear.”
Former national winner Tallanstown was awarded 340 points by Tidy Towns judges, who remarked on the sustainable ethos of their work.
“Well done on all the maintenance work of your green areas specially Mount Road which is being managed for wildlife, and on the revamp of the edible cottage kitchen garden in McGuire park and the two new fruit trees.”
£It is encouraging also to hear of the cooperation of village residents in maintaining their properties and gardens to a high standard, and that two derelict properties at Tallansfield Manor are now occupied and freshly painted and that their gardens are being tended to, and that you continue to work with the eight residents associations in the village.”