AN INVOLVEMENT with Ennis Tidy Towns has heightened volunteers love for the county town.

Ennis was named as this year’s overall winner in the competition and took home the title of Ireland’s tidiest town on Friday.

Chairperson of Ennis Tidy Towns, Cormac McCarthy and Vice Chairperson Teresa McGrath attended Friday’s scaled back event. The fact that they were among 40 of the 840 groups invited to the ceremony gave hope that Clare was in line to take home some big awards.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cormac reflected, “It was really wonderful, we missed having all the crew with us but when Ennis was called out not only as large urban centre but the overall prize, it was brilliant. We’ve accepted this on behalf of the entire town, our entire submission every year is a collection of projects we do ourselves, the work of the Ennis Municipal District, all the Green Flags in the local schools, our business awards, help from Mácra na Féirme, Ennis Sub-Aqua club, GAA clubs, all of it goes in so it is something the entire town can be very proud of because they all had a role to play in us winning”.

A point off winning the competition two years ago, Ennis taking the top prize in 2021 by ending a sixteen year wait was testament to the history of the organisation in the county town, Cormac felt. “I would have always known Ennis was a beautiful town to walk around, it has a wonderful streetscape but when you join Tidy Towns and learn the history of the town and the amount of work done by the volunteers and the Ennis Municipal District which gives you a real appreciation of the passion for the town to make it a really vibrant place to live, work and visit,” the Liscannor native said.

His involvement with the group arose after assisting on a biodiversity plan six years ago, their “infectious” passion managed to reel in the Waterways Ireland Environment and Heritage Officer.

Amidst the celebrations, volunteers also remembered the late Bridie Frawley in their thoughts, who died in January of this year “Bridie was absolutely dedicated and passionate to Tidy Towns, we tragically lost her far too soon in the last twelve months, we’re remembering her as part of this win, we know she is smiling down on us, there was no better woman at an awards ceremony to go through the adjudication report in detail the very next day looking at areas we could seek to improve, it is a poignant time in some ways,” Cormac said.

Memories of Bridie also brought smiles to the faces of volunteers through her iconic line in the aftermath of a small town winning the top prize that “all you’d need to keep that place tidy is a hooever with an extension lead”.

With a committee of twenty, Ennis Tidy Towns through its linkages with the Ennis Sub-Aqua Club and local GAA clubs has a crew of approximately 100 volunteers. “I’m there a long time,” said Mary Coote-Ryan of her thirty one year stint as a volunteer. “I’m an old Townie as they say and I absolutely love my town of Ennis, I love every minute I’m in the Tidy Towns, it is the most wonderful organisation, it is just brilliant,” she told The Clare Echo.

“In the very early years it took a long time for us to win anything, you just don’t win overnight but we had wonderful people, we had Donal Griffin, Noel Crowley and Margaret Neylon was the secretary, they were absolutely wonderful people. We went up to Dublin on a few occasions with banners and streamers, hoping we would win but we didn’t but we all kept at it,” the former Mayor of Ennis recalled.

Selfless dedication of the volunteers to their town was lauded by Cormac. “Some people litter pick every single day and then you have people who turn up when they can, we’re very conscious that if you ever decide to volunteer with Ennis Tidy Towns we’re very aware that people either have jobs, family commitments or other issues they need to give their time to. We would love for new volunteers to join us if they have the time but don’t expect you will have to turn up every time we do, it is very much when you have the time. The volunteers proved that while Tidy Towns is a competition, the main driving force behind the movement nationally is that people want to make their town or village a better place to live. We had no competition last year, there was no awards and yet we had volunteers out in force, we developed a range of projects on heritage with the Clare Roots Society, we did sustainability, biodiversity and public realm projects, all that happened during a time when there was no competition”.

Mary pointed out that the Tidy Towns continues to instil a sense of pride of place. “I can honestly say it gives huge pride for our town, we have a wonderful Chairman in Cormac, he is absolutely wonderful, we’ve a marvellous committee, you wouldn’t be in it unless you wanted to be there. In the early stages we had prizes for all the residential areas, a lot of those were new areas at the time with new people, it helped people get to know each other, when we started they all came out and cleaned their areas, it was marvellous for their area but for themselves because they got to know their neighbours”.

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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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