*Judges Berta Briggs and Dr. Andrea Bocsi. 

ENNIS’ sustainability stood out to international adjudicators as the county town underwent an inspection this week by Communities in Bloom judges.

An evaluation of Ennis Town took place from Sunday to Tuesday of this week as it partook in the twenty ninth edition of the international challenge. The community will be rated from 1 to 5 ‘Blooms’, based on the scoring obtained. Ennis will also aim to obtain Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels in its 5-Bloom rating, it is competing alongside Brooks Regional, Alberta, Canada, and Monfalcone, Italy in the medium category.

Judges Berta Briggs from Canada and Dr. Andrea Bocsi from Hungary met with officials from Clare County Council on Sunday where they were briefed on strategies and plans for Ennis. They went on a town tour beginning in the Friary on Monday where the judges were officially welcomed and met with community groups.

From here, they travelled to The Club Bridge, Abbey St car park, Parnell St laneways and bowways, Merchants Square, Catherdral Place and onto The Old Ground Hotel where John Maher briefed them on the environmental action plan.

An EV bus then took the delegation to Fr McNamara Park in Doora to watch a camogie game before they visited Ennis Men’s Shed and Banner Beekeepers. Trips to Cloughleigh Community Garden, Tim Smyth Park and the Memorial Garden rounded off the second day of the trip. The judges were joined by Bernadette Solon an adjudicator with Tidy Towns Ireland and a judge with Communities in Bloom plus members of the Department of Rural and Community Development.

General Community Appearance, Environmental Initiatives/Protection, Heritage Natural and Cultural, Urban Trees, Overall Landscape and Floral Displays are the six criteria that were assessed during the trip. Their report will be released with the announcement of the awards at the end of September.

After Ennis won the overall prize in the national tidy towns competition in 2021, the Department approached both Ennis Tidy Towns and the Ennis Municipal District about submitting the town as Ireland’s entry. “It’s a tremendous opportunity, we’re honoured to be involved. The decision to take part was made jointly and since then it has been a collaborative effort, there has been a lot of cooperation since last year when we got the nomination, it’s really exciting to see it all culminate today, there’s really good community connections and this whole competition has cemented that, it has been a really rewarding experience,” admitted Cormac McCarthy of Ennis Tidy Towns.

Speaking at a press conference in The Temple Gate Hotel, the judges admitted they were very impressed with their overall impressions of Ennis. “Pretty and friendly, beyond that it was how cohesive everything was and how departments worked together, the outreach to community and the community involvement in everything that is happening in Ennis, it really comes together as a well put together community,” Berta Briggs indicated of her initial reaction.

Dr Bocsi stated, “I was also impressed with the community involvement and experiencing how many associations and volunteers work together with the County Council and the local Government, it was really wonderful to see the results of this cooperation”. She noted that an inclusion in the community can serve as “a very good tourism marketing tool”.

Berta said Ennis’ sustainability was unique. “It goes through visually and the flowerbeds which were really a great mix of native plants and providing habitat for plants, animals and bees, looking toward the sustainability and environmental aspects really impressed me”. She said Ennis matched her expectations, “We got a lot of information in advance so we had a good framework, it is what we expected and more, it’s once you get the human connection that you really get to understand the personality and culture of an area”.

She continued, “One of the great things for a community to reach this level is the introspection, often you get so busy doing things that you don’t look back and say wow we’re really great, it gives an opportunity to look at all these wonderful things but I think the greatest value is for Ennis to look at itself and say ‘wow we’re pretty good’”.

Senior executive officer in the Ennis MD, Leonore O’Neill detailed that over twenty community groups were met by the judges during their trip. “It is a real honour for Ennis to have been selected, it is a real testament to the really strong communities we have here that are working day in day out on bettering their own environment, while we support them, without all those communities we wouldn’t be as strong a town, our hope and aspiration is to win the competition but thereafter to open up to an international market how wonderful Ennis is and that people may consider coming to visit us and to increase our visitor numbers”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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