Wednesday 17 January 2018

Tidy Towns group takes on major projects in Ross

David Looby

NEW ROSS Tidy Towns (New Ross Tidy Towns) volunteers have been working on some major projects over the summer, ahead of judging for this year's competition next month.

Having bounced back from the shock of getting the same points in 2013 as they did the previous year, despite millions of euro and hundreds of hours of effort going into making the town look so well for the JFK50 commemoration, the group has never been as active.

Already this summer they have worked on the bridge abutment area in Rosbercon with pupils from St Canice's NS, working on the marina area, painting the railings at the playground in the colours of the rainbow and working on the Quaker's Graveyard opposite New Ross Rugby Club and the High Hill and The Ponds areas.

Ray Flynn of New Ross Tidy Towns said despite a dwindling number of volunteers, major headway has been made on the projects.

'We have some volunteers but in reality the numbers are getting less and less while there's more and more work to do,' he said.

Ray said the body is working increasingly with New Ross Municipal Authority staff, New Ross Men's Shed and New Ross Allotments to get jobs done.

'We don't have the resources, the time or the money we had five or six years ago but there is a great community spirit in the town and it's a matter of tapping into that.'

He said although everyone associates the tidy towns with the annual competition, the organisation is really about improving towns visually 'bit by bit'.

One of New Ross Tidy Towns's most recent projects was making the Rosbercon area near the old bridge abutment more attractive. Joined by St Canice's pupils who made an attractive sign, the volunteers reused old benches from the quay front and refurbished them. Four lights were provided by the local authority as well as cobble block and hanging baskets.

Having won the Barrow Awards two years ago with their River Goddess project near the marina, beating off stiff competition from 17 other tidy towns committees, New Ross Tidy Towns has entered this year with the Rosbercon project and is hopeful of more success.

New Ross Tidy Towns members also completed the painting of the fence at the playground in the town park, ably assisted by New Ross Men's Shed members in the evening time.

New Ross Tidy Towns took over the maintenance and development of the Quaker Graveyard two years ago having come up with ambitious plans to transform the overgrown grassy area into a biodiversity community garden for long term patients at the Haughton and Community hospitals.

Major work has been completed at the historic graveyard so far this year but as a biodiversity garden is planned no spraying is allowed so the project will take some time to complete.

'We have got in a rotavator and we're aiming to have it all completed next year. It's a historic site and the gates are 180 years old. The Quakers and the Quaker Graveyard are part of our heritage and culture. They remain active in Waterford and in Broadway. Just prior to the Famine they were very strong in New Ross with their soup kitchens for the needy in Rosbercon Castle at a time when the town's merchants didn't want to know.'

Work by New Ross Tidy Towns volunteers is ongoing in the High Hill and Rookery area.

Ray said although the old Royal Hotel site is an 'absolute eyesore' in the centre of the town, there are plans for a historic walking route which would incorporate the High Hill, Rookery and St Mary's Protestant Church areas feeding down to the town and the quay front.

Revitalising The Ponds area is another project New Ross Tidy Towns has undertaken.

'The area had seven or eight mills over the years and we want to reclaim that area. We've applied for a grant to clean it up as we want to highlight each area of the town's rich history. It was a small village going back years.'

100 metres of the 800 metre Ponds area has already been cleaned up and New Ross Tidy Towns hopes to transform the area over the coming years.

'We were disappointed by last year's tidy towns results but we're moving on now and with Philo Whelan and Bid Ryan at the helm we plan to promote the history of the town more.'

Anyone interested in volunteering with New Ross Tidy Towns can contact Ray on 086 3642592.

New Ross Standard

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