36th Annual Cleaner Community Awards 2022 Results

On Monday 21st November 2022, Letterkenny Tidy Towns held our Cleaner Community Awards in the Mount Errigal Hotel.

With a full house, co-chair Brian McCormick highlighted areas that needed improved according to the 2022 Adjudication Report from the National Tidy Towns organisation.

Gerard McCormick, co-chair announced the winners of the awards with Mayor of Letterkenny Councillor Donal ‘Mandy’ Kelly presenting the prizes to the recipients. The full list is as follows:

SCHOOL AWARD

Caring for the Environment Awards

Scoil Cholmcille

St Bernadette’s Special School

Ballyraine National School

Woodland National School

St Patrick’s National School – Lurgybrack

Scoil Naomh Fiachra – Illistrin

Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál

Loreto Secondary School

Errigal College

Gaelscoil Adhamhnáin

Coláiste Ailigh

Little Angels School

Educate Together National School

St Eunan’s College

YOUNG ENVIRONMENTALISTS- Jim McCormick Memorial Award                              

Chloe Boyle Kennedy – Errigal College

SHOP FRONT:  AMELIA’S IRISH DESIGN & GIFTS  – Frances Speers

RETAIL AREA:  COUNTY SEAT – Brendan Mc Ateer

PUBLIC HOUSE:  BLAKE’S BAR – Kevin Blake

Blake’s Bar – Kevin Blake

HOTEL/GUESTHOUSE:  RADISSON BLU HOTEL – Paul Byrne

Radisson Blu Hotel – Paul Byrne

RESTUARANT/COFFEE SHOP:  BACKSTAGE RESTAURANT – Mark Doherty

Backstage Bar & Restaurant – Chantelle Grant

PUBLIC BUILDING AWARD:  SCOIL CHOLMCILLE – Padraig Cannon – Principal

THREE BEST KEPT AREAS:

Eunan Kelly – ASHLEIGH CLOSE

Jean O’ Neill – CAROLINA PARK

Oran Doherty – 47-83 THE GRANGE

BEST KEPT ENTRANCE: Beechwood Road – Mary Hegarty & Alice Gillespie

BEST FLOWER DISPLAY: GARETH MC LAUGHLIN – Rann Mor Walk

LARGE GARDEN: Sean Higgins Memorial Award  – KATHLEEN CALLAGHAN

SMALL GARDEN: Charlie & Rose Devlin Award – BRID VAUGHAN

WILDLIFE GARDEN: sponsored by an Taisce – HAJNI GYORFFY & STEPHEN FABIAN

MOST IMPROVED/NEW GARDEN ENTRY: Terri Mc Kee

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Buy a Pollinator Tree and.. Get Second One Half Price

As part of our Biodiversity initiatives we are bringing back our pollinating tree offer!

We are delighted to be partnering with local garden centre Alcorns on this great biodiversity initiative. Buy a pollinator tree and get second one Half Price. Please note, this offer is while stocks last and you must provide your Eircode on purchase. (Personal details will not be shared publicly.)

List of fruit trees available for this offer:

Apple

  • Elstar
  • Jona gold
  • Golden delicious
  • James greive
  • Apffel
  • Mela

Cherry

  • Early rivers
  • Morello
  • Black cherry

Pear

  • Conference pear
  • Williams pear

Trio apple, pear (3 verities in one plant)

Duo apple, pear (2 verities in one plant)

 

Large selection of fruit trees available ranging from €24 to €36, Irish trees all suitable for cross pollination.

For more information on these trees please contact Craig at Alcorns on 074 – 9121541.

Happy planting!

The Letterkenny Tidy Towns team

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Derelict in Donegal Conference

100,000 vacant properties in the Republic: –

 

“Derelict” in Donegal conference

While there is no precise number reliable data sources suggests there are well over 100,000 vacant properties in the Republic, and anyone travelling through the towns and villages in this county can easily attest to the fact that we huge numbers of abandoned properties.

With up to 3,000 people currently looking to be housed in Donegal, Letterkenny Tidy Towns, in conjunction with Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter, is to host a special conference on “Dereliction” in Dillons Hotel on Friday, 22 July, starting at 11am.

In the wake of President Michael D. Higgins’ controversial comments, it’s an event that is both timely and topical as the housing issue tops the political agenda.

Speaking yesterday the event organiser, Donnan Harvey described dereliction here as a ‘live issue’ that affects both individuals and communities negatively and said addressing the issue would be a clear ‘win-win’ for both.

He stated: “I have been involved in the Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter project here in the town and despite the many obstacles put in our way at the outset we are now forging ahead.

“The Church Lane, which had more derelict houses than any other part of Letterkenny, is now thriving as both a residential and artisan area.

“It’s been a real success story. We have turned a sort of dying area into one that is very, very alive. We need to make this success more broad-based by addressing the issue of dereliction across the county.”

The chairman of Letterkenny Tidy Towns, Gerard McCormick confirmed that Deputy Peter Burke, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will officially open the Conference.

The chief speakers at the conference will be Frank O’Connor and Jude Sherry from the Anois Agency who started the Derelict Ireland campaign and brought the issue of Dereliction to the National Stage.

Mr McCormick said the conference was intended to both informative and wide ranging, giving a platform to many views and opinions.

He stated: “The confirmed speakers at the conference will include Donegal County Heritage officer Joe Gallagher; broadcaster Lee Gooch who has been involved in the redevelopment of his own home; Kyle Thompson of the New Gate Arts Centre in the Fountain area of Derry/Londonderry; Colm Murray, Architectural Officer from the Heritage Council – a former past pupil of St Eunan’s College.

And he added: “Bringing back buildings, be they commercial or residential, can add so much value to our communities across Donegal. What is a derelict house today could be a home for a family tomorrow. And when we bring about regeneration we are helping to create opportunities for people, for families. This is what this conference is really about.”

A moderator for the conference will be confirmed in the next few weeks.

Preceding the conference on Thursday, 21st July there will be a special guided tour of Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter starting outside Dillons Hotel 7.30pm. Brian Walsh of Letterkenny Community Heritage Group and Donnan Harvey of Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter will give an insight as to the unique history of the locality. Attendees of the Conference and others are welcome to find out what makes the area so special in the heart of Letterkenny.

Following the Conference, there will be an official celebration of the Historic Towns Initiative on Church Lane which has transformed the buildings on one of Letterkenny oldest streets.

As Donnan Harvey points out: “The celebrations on Church Lane will demonstrate that dereliction does not have to be a permanent feature but when local community, the local authority, other stakeholders and Government Agencies work together, things can change. That’s the big message we want to send out.”

To register, simply please click on the link https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/368816759857

Or contact Donnan at donnanharvey@hotmail.com or Gerard at lktidy@gmail.com

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Letterkenny Tidy Towns launch the 36th Annual Cleaner Community Garden Competition

Letterkenny Tidy Towns launch the 36th Annual Cleaner Community Garden Competition

We are delighted to run our Annual Garden Competition for 2022 with three categories to enter – Best Large Garden, Best Small Garden and Best Wildlife Friendly Garden. Each category is dedicated to previous Tidy Town members.

The competition is open now and will run until the 31st July 2022, the entries will then be judged and each category winner will receive a trophy and an Alcorns gift voucher. (Please note we can only accept entries from Letterkenny and the surrounding townlands.)

The Large Garden competition is known as the Sean Higgins Memorial Award. Adjudication will cover planting, colour including shrubs, grassy areas and flower borders encouraging wildlife.

2021 Large Garden Winner

 

The Small Garden competition is known as the Charles and Rose Devlin Memorial Award. Adjudication will cover planting, colour including shrubs, grassy areas, and flower borders encouraging wildlife.

2021 Small Garden Winner

 

The Wildlife-Friendly Garden competition is known as the May McClintock Memorial Award, sponsored by An Taisce. For examples of what we might be looking for in this category, see the biodiversity section of our website.

Wildlife Garden Winner 2021

 

We can’t wait to see the amazing gardens in the Letterkenny area – SEND your entries NOW to lktidy@gmail.com or post/drop in pictures to Magees Pharmacy.

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Plans for 2022

The following article appeared in the Letterkenny Leader on April 7th

At our recent AGM, plans for Letterkenny Tidy Towns initiatives for 2022 were discussed. This month’s column will go over some of the highlights.

Murals

We have 3 Flight of the Bee Murals at Lower Main Street, at the Jim McCormick Memorial Garden and at the old ESB site on Port Road. These were done by Karl Porter of UV Arts. Due largely to Covid restrictions, there was a delay in completing the remaining 2 murals at the Quiet Moment and at Insomnia, however Ciaran Dunlevy has been commissioned to complete the last 2 murals. Judging by his work at Church Lane, these two final pieces should be perfect to complete the mural trail!

In conjunction with the murals, we are working on an app which will guide visitors around the trail, and would hopefully take in other trails around the town. It’s in early stages of development, but could be a real asset to the town’s tourist industry once it’s up and running.

Keeping the Town Clean and Tidy

A core part of our remit is to keep the town looking clean and tidy, and this year as usual we will have a number of schemes in place to help achieve this.

Firstly, as per usual we will have our Sunday litter picks, where a group of volunteers meets up at Market Square at 10.30 on Sundays, and Neil, our coordinator, keeps everyone stocked with gloves, bags, high vis jackets and litter grabbers. All are welcome, and you can just turn up and join us any time. A warm welcome is assured!

The Paint the Town initiative will continue, where we provide assistance to businesses to design colour schemes and spruce up the outside of their premises.

The Spring Clean week and the Clean Sweep initiative are to be launched in April.

The Clean Sweep is an initiative where we encourage business owners to look after their own area

The Spring Clean Week is a national campaign, organised by An Taisce, in which residents who sign up to organise a spring clean of their local area, whether it be an estate or a local road, are provided with advice and equipment. Last year , volunteers collected an estimated 2800 tonnes of litter. If your community would like to join in, you can register at http://nationalspringclean.org.

Cleaner Community Campaign is to be launched in April with all the competitions attached to it. This is our annual competition, with such categories as ‘Best small/large/wildlife friendly garden’, ‘Best kept estate’, ‘Best kept shop front’ and so on. This leads to our awards night in the autumn. We are hopeful that this year the awards night will be in person, as we have missed meeting and thanking our volunteers in person the last couple of years, thanks to Covid.

Pipeline Projects

There are also a couple of schemes in the pipeline, which still have to be worked out. More details will follow. These include a Sustainability Survey and a possible Streets and derelict buildings seminar with Church Lane.

In Addition to these initiatives, we have a number of plans based around improving biodiversity, and I’ll cover those in a future column.

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Tidy Times – Recruiting!

This is traditionally our quiet time of year. After all, who wants to be out on a winters day picking litter? Actually, quite a few of our hardy volunteers do! You’ll see them out and about on a weekend morning keeping the town clean. But generally speaking, it’s more the time of year for reflecting on what we want to achieve in the year ahead. To this end, we recently had our Annual General Meeting, where we had a large attendance. Gerard McCormick, co-chair of Letterkenny Tidy Towns, said “we were delighted with a few new members to the committee for this year, we are grateful for their commitment”. In addition, a presentation was made to Ann McGowan and Dennis Doyle “for all their dedication, leadership and guidance that they have shown to Letterkenny Tidy Towns for decades. We salute you both”.

Recruiting

In order to continue our work and go from strength to strength, we are always on the look out for new volunteers. We currently have a number of roles advertised on i-vol.ie. To view the roles, go to i-vol.ie and select ‘organisation search’. Then input Letterkenny Tidy Towns, and you will see the available roles. If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in helping us out, please get in touch. Not only is the work fulfilling but you’ll be doing your bit to keep our town as a great place to live in and to visit. There’s also an added bonus for younger volunteers that having a bit of voluntary work on the CV can be a great way to stand out from the other applicants.

As ever, we are looking for volunteers to help out with our Sunday morning litter picks. Volunteers would be assigned an area to focus on. Some people do their own neighbourhood, others will go down to the Market Square on a Sunday and find out from Neil, our coordinator, which particular areas need attention that week. The choice is yours as to how you go about it and as to how often you want to help out. Neil will provide the necessary equipment and guidance, and if you’re turning up on your own he will try to pair you up with someone, to work together on a particular area.

In addition, we are looking for help with our website and social media. The work is not too time consuming but is something which helps us continue our work, in that it helps us to get funding and attract new voilunteers. The roles would be suitable to someone who is already involved in volunteering, or for someone who wishes to get experience in social media. The roles we are looking for help with are Facebook admin, web site administrator, and blog writer. We are also looking for a sustainability officer. This last role involves helping to develop an action plan based on feedback we received at the last Tidy Towns competition. With these roles, it helps to be involved with Tidy Towns already, but is not essential, as plenty of help is available from the committee members.

All these roles can be done in your own time, and none of them should be overly time consuming. The roles are all very fulfilling, and are a great way to spend some of your spare time!

If you would like to know how you can get involved in helping with the Tidy Towns efforts, please visit our website https://www.letterkennytidytowns.com/volunteer or visit https://www.i-vol.ie, select ‘Organisation Search’ and input ‘Letterkenny Tidy Towns’ in the Search bar.

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Tidy Times Article – Jan 2022

As mentioned a couple of issues ago, we were delighted to receive a Gold Medal and to be named as tidiest town In Donegal in the recent national Tidy Towns competition. The national organisation sent us extensive feedback on what is going well and also on what could be improved upon, so this month I’d like to go over some of the key points. And also to say a huge “THANKS” to all who contributed. The Tidy Towns committee organise/coordinate a lot of the work going on, but it would all amount to nothing if it wasn’t for the participation of our volunteers.

Community Planning and Involvement

We were commended for the great response we had for the Garden competitions and the photo competition we ran last year, and also for the large growth in the number of volunteers. We currently have over 60 regular volunteers, so thanks very much to all who continue to contribute. Also, our work with youth groups and schools was commended, with various projects involving the scouts, Errigal College, St Eunans College and Loreto Convent.

Streetscape and Public Spaces.

One big positive was our development of the Flight of the Bee mural trail, which in conjunction with the efforts of the Cathedral Quarter group and the A-rt Team continue to make Letterkenny a destination for lovers of street art. In the next year we’ll be working on an app which will help to bring this aspect of Letterkenny to life and help with the development of tourism in the town.

The developments around Church Lane also came in for particular praise, as did the plans for “Letterkenny 2040” which we will hear much more of in the coming months and years. Collaborative efforts with Men’s Shed, the Rotary Club and the Letterkenny Lions were also praised. The adjudicators particularly liked the “Hirelings” statue in Market Square and the Polestar sculpture that makes such a striking introduction to the town.

The committee expressed disappointment at the number of derelict buildings in the town centre, and we will continue to work with the council to bring such buildings to their attention and improve the situation where possible.

Green Spaces and Landscaping.

The flower boxes provided around the town (more than 50,000 plants!), along with the tree planting, were praised by the adjudicators. In 2022 we aim to focus more on tree planting as well as developing biodiversity areas. This can be as simple as allowing an area to grow wild, as for example has happened along the river bank in Ballyboe Park.

Tidiness and Litter Control

Our ongoing focus on litter control was praised, and thanks for this go out to our large group of volunteers as well as the various residents’ associations and sports clubs who work with us to keep the town clean. Also, the Community Employment Scheme and town gardener David Donnelly were commended. Last but not least, a big thankyou goes out to our Junior Litter Warriors.

Residential Streets, Approach Roads and Back Lanes

The efforts involved in improving areas such as the famine garden and Roger’s Burn were praised, in particular the efforts to clear undergrowth and mend/paint fences in various spots. Other areas which were commended were Church Lane, Ard O’Donnell, Glencar Park, the Long Lane and of course the dual carriageway.

A final comment from the adjudicators was “Keep up the good work and we look forward to returning to Letterkenny in 2022.

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Gold!

The following article appeared in the Letterkenny Leader on December 2nd 2021.

Gold!

We were delighted to hear that in the results of the National Tidy Towns competition, Letterkenny was awarded a gold medal, and was announced as tidiest town in Donegal. Well done also to runners up Buncrana and Glenties, and to national winners Ennis. Special praise was given to the transformation of Church Lane and the success of our volunteer programme. So thanks very much to our 70-plus volunteers who made that happen!

Our volunteers have been involved in litter picking, tidying up green areas, developing biodiversity areas, sprucing up the paths and fences at spots such as Roger’s Burn and the Famine Garden, helping to deliver and install flower boxes around the town, and much much more, and all of this continues to make the town a more liveable and pleasant place. As many people commented on our Facebook page, you’re all a credit to the town. Below I will single out 3 of the volunteers who made huge contributions this year, but every single one of our volunteers and committee members deserves a big pat on the back.

Charlie’s Angels

One volunteer who is behind a lot of the Tidy Towns initiatives is Charlie Grant. A true Tidy Towns stalwart, Charlie is often seen out and about with his crews of volunteers, tidying up green areas, mending and painting fences, planting flowers and much more. His crew have been referred to as Charlie’s Angels, or the Ninja Gardeners, and if you see them out and about, do give them a ‘Hello’ or a toot of the car horn, as they all do great work for the town.

Charlie Grant

Neil Blockley

Another key committee member is Neil Blockley. Not only is Neil often seen out and about with Charlie’s Angels, but he is also the coordinator of the Sunday litter picks. Neil took it upon himself to increase the number of volunteers picking litter around the town, and organised a map of the town showing picking routes. Each Sunday from around March to November Neil is down at the Market Square handing out bags, gloves and hi vis jackets and discussing with the volunteers which areas most need picking.

Neil (right) with Tidy Towns co-Chair Gerard McCormick

The Phantom Litter Picker

Last but not least, there was one volunteer who put in a herculean effort on behalf of Tidy Towns. None other than the Phantom Litter Picker himself, John Wilkie. John took it on himself to clean up the dual carriageway. That 5km stretch of road was in quite a bad state at the start of the summer, with months (or even years in some spots) of accumulated litter. Everything from drink cans, coffee cups and takeaway wrappers to bits of household furniture and chunks of cars. Over the course of several weeks/months, John chipped away at it, and 260 bags later, most of the litter was gone. As with most litter hotspots, litter will often reappear almost as soon as it is picked, but John kept chipping away and now the dual carriageway is looking a lot better.

John Wilkie with bespoke head gear

Calendar

To mark the work done by our volunteers this year (and every year, really!) , we are launching the Tidy Towns calendar for 2022. It will be available at Magees Pharmacy and Brian McCormick Sports & Leisure for just 5 Euros, and features photos of the work done by our volunteers during 2021.

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Thankyou To Our Volunteers

The following article appeared in the Letterkenny Leader on 3rd November 2021.

As we come to the end of the year, it will soon be time for the Tidy Towns Results to be announced. However highly Letterkenny scores in the results, we are proud of the improvements that have been made to the town both this year and in previous years. None of which could have been done without our volunteers, who turn out in all weathers to pick litter, tidy up green areas, paint fences, mend fences, plant flower beds and everything else that is done to improve the look of the town.

The volunteers gather at the Brewery

Recently, we held a coffee morning at the Brewery, where co-chair Gerard McCormick and co-ordinator Neil Blockley both spoke to the volunteers to give thanks for all their work. The following is an excerpt from an open letter to volunteers, penned by Gerard.

Open Letter

To all the Tidy Towns Volunteers:

On behalf of the Letterkenny Tidy Towns Committee, I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you for all your work and efforts that you have given to your town this year.

When Neil came to us with his idea of starting a structured volunteering plan which is based on the famous “table” at the Market Square on Sunday mornings along with promoting the good work done on Social Media, we never thought that it would be such a success.

On reflection, it has been successful for two reasons, firstly, the selfless spirit of all you volunteers who reached out to us and gave your time freely to improve the fabric of the town by making it clean and tidy, secondly the hard work and organisation that Neil has put into this initiative from the very start. These two reasons have been instrumental in the success of the initiative, we salute you all.

We are told by the National Tidy Towns Unit that the Tidy Town results will be released sometime in November and we are excited about this, after the cancelled competition last year.

You never know what will happen in this competition, but we do know one thing, we have all worked extremely hard to have Letterkenny in the best shape possible and we should all be very proud of that as the Tidy Town year winds down.

I would just like to conclude that we hope that you have enjoyed volunteering with Tidy Towns as it is in the giving that we receive the most in life. We look forward to continue working with you all as we strive to improve our beautiful town.

Gerard addresses the volunteers while Neil looks on.

Charlie Grant, organiser of many of Letterkenny Tidy Towns’ projects

Pollinating Trees

In order to promote the planting of pollinating trees, we are working with Alcorns Garden Centre in Kiltoy. Members of the public can go into Alcorns and select 2 pollinator friendly trees. Letterkenny Tidy Towns will pay for whichever is the cheaper of the two. Nine tree varieties are on offer, including rowans, ashes, weeping willows, cherry blossom and many more. To find out more, contact Craig on 074 9121541 or visit www.alcorns.ie.

 

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Pollinator Friendly Areas Register – Buy a Pollinator Friendly Tree & Get Another Free Campaign – NOW CLOSED

This offer is now closed, thank you to all who participated.

As part of our Biodiversity initiatives we are building a register of pollinator friendly areas in Letterkenny!

We are delighted to be partnering with local garden centre Alcorns on this great biodiversity initiative. For every pollinator friendly tree(s) purchase we will provide one pollinator tree completely free of charge (that tree being of lesser or equal value).  Please note, this offer is while stocks last and one free tree per customer only.

If you can please complete a register form at the time of purchase in Alcorn so that we can add your Eircode and tree details to the pollinator friendly area register.  NOTE – your personal information will NOT be displayed in any way or provided to a third party.

The trees on offer are:

  • Prunus Kanzan (Cherry Blossom)
  • Prunus Fugenzo (flowering cherry)
  • Sorbus Nigra (purple leaf plum, pink flower)
  • Sorbus Vilmorini (pink berry ash)
  • Sorbus scalaris (Chinese Ash –  white flower pink berry)
  • Sorbus Comixta (Japanese Rowan)
  • Sorbus Acuparia (sheer water seedling)
  • Pyrus Pendula (weeping pear, white flower)
  • Salix Kilmarnock (weeping willow)
  • Cotoneaster coral beauty
  • Ceonthus Victoria
  • Cotoneaster Cornubia
  • Cotoneaster Pendula
  • Pyrus Chanticleer (celery pear)
  • Malus hyshop ( blue tinged crab apple )
  • Malus Red Sentinel (crab apple)

There will be more tree types available in spring for any more information on these trees please contact Craig at Alcorns on 074 – 9121541.

Happy planting!

The Letterkenny Tidy Towns team

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