ENNIS HAS ACHIEVED international success in the 2023 Communities in Bloom (CiB) awards ceremony held at Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada over the weekend.
Clare’s county town was Ireland’s nominated entry to the prestigious annual competition, picked up ‘5 Blooms’ and the title of overall winner (Gold) in the ‘International Challenge Medium’ category, as well as a special mention in the ‘Pollinator Friendly Gardens’ category of the competition.
CiB adjudicators visited Ennis in July to evaluate the town under the criteria of community appearance, environmental action, heritage conservation, tree management, landscape, and plant and floral displays. Other countries that nominated entrants to this year’s competition included Canada, USA, Japan, Italy, Belgium, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia.
During this visit they met with Council officials and community leaders and travelled to Ennis Friary, Cloughleigh Community Garden, Tim Smythe Park, the Clare Peace Park at Friar’s Walk, Banner Beekeepers, Clare Camogie and Ennis Men’s Shed.
Judges also heard about The Old Ground Hotel’s ambitious environmental action plan, large-scale projects like the Ennis Flood Relief Scheme, the pollinator friendly planting initiatives throughout the town, the public realm enhancements at Parnell Street Laneways & Bow-ways, and future plans for O’Connell Street, Cathedral Place and Barrack Square. They also viewed the floral displays at Club Bridge and travelled on an EV bus to witness the remediated landfill at Doora.
Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) who was in Canada to accept the award leading a delegation which included Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Pat Daly (FF), Director of Economic Development and the Ennis MD, Carmel Kirby, senior executive officer with the Ennis MD, Leonore O’Neill, Chairman of Ennis Tidy Towns, Cormac McCarthy and Ennis MD administrative officer Niamh O’Connor.
Welcoming the award, Cllr Cooney stated, “The success achieved by our county town is a boost for all of Clare as it provides official recognition of the commitment of the local authority, volunteers and groups across the county to improving the visual appearance of their communities. Ennis has a lengthy and proud track record of successful participation in national and international competitions and the recognition given by the Communities in Bloom judges is further evidence of the high quality of the planting and maintenance of public spaces across the town”.
Work of the Ennis MD staff, Ennis Tidy Towns, local community groups and volunteers helped to achieve the international success, Cllr Daly maintained. “The slogan for this competition is ‘growing great places together’, which typifies the strong community spirit that exists in the town today and the same sense of pride of place that also helped to secure the Ireland’s Tidiest Town title for Ennis in 2021”.
Participation of Ennis “has proven to be an inspirational experience for everybody involved as it brought together the local authority and the community to demonstrate to the visiting international CiB judges how such a collaborative approach has transformed our town into the attractive place we know of today, as well as assist Clare County Council in delivering on its mission of building and developing stable communities,” Ms Kirby remarked.
Speaking about their evaluation of Ennis, Communities in Bloom judges Berta Briggs from Canada and Dr. Andrea Bocsi from Hungary said, “From the charm of the Town Centre with lanes and bow-ways to floral beds stretching into every neighbourhood, Ennis is a wonderful Irish town. It has the reputation of being the most sustainable town in Ireland and has the most biodiversity. Part of this is the many beautiful and colourful flowerbeds in roundabouts, on boulevards, in parks and on street corners. They are carefully designed to be colourful throughout the year, sustainable, easy to maintain and pollinator friendly. Even the Friary has a Hare’s Garden’ with native and pollinator friendly plants. Pollinator sites are carefully managed. This is all part of the planned biodiversity initiatives that make Ennis a model for managing climate change”.
Leonore O’Neill noted “The challenge from the outset been to ensure Ennis would be a strong contender in this international competition, in which we were evaluated against strict evaluation criteria across municipal, residential, commercial, and institutional spaces. A lot of thought was put into presenting our achievements and plans which aligned with the specific criteria, in addition to designing a tour that would reflect Ennis’ strengths”.
Projects from Ennis Tidy Towns were showcased during the visit, McCarthy recalled. “Not only did the town look fantastic during the visit by adjudicators to the town, but we got to showcase so many projects spanning areas like biodiversity, sustainability, heritage and community involvement and the strong partnership we have forged with Ennis MD over the years. Most importantly, and unlike our Tidy Towns adjudication, we were presented with a unique opportunity to allow other community groups to showcase their projects in their own words, which was wonderful to see”.
Communities participating in in the 2023 Communities in Bloom (CiB) were evaluated using a “bloom” rating determined by the total score of the evaluation: 1 Bloom: 0-55%, 2 Blooms: 56-63%, 3 Blooms: 64-72%, 4 Blooms: 73-81%, 5 Blooms: 82%. There are four levels of 5 Blooms exclusive to the National and International Edition: 5 Blooms: 82-83.9%, Bronze: 84-86.9%, Silver: 87-89.9% Gold: 90% and over.