What is Tidy Times About?

The following article appeared in the ‘Tidy Times’ column of the Letterkenny Leader at the start of August.

Hello and welcome to the new regular feature, which I will be writing on behalf of Letterkenny Tidy Towns. Each month I’ll cover some of the things which the Tidy Towns volunteers do, and how you can help out.

This month I will try to answer the question “What exactly do Letterkenny Tidy Towns do?” You may be surprised at the breadth of our initiatives – it’s not just about litter – and I will go into more detail on some of these in future editions of the Letterkenny Leader.

The Letterkenny Tidy Towns team is a group of volunteers whose goal is to greatly improve our sense of community, quality of people’s lives and our local environment.

We believe environmental improvement is a vital part of economic generation. We work hard to make Letterkenny look great – a place where people want to live and visit. So how do we go about it?

Firstly, we represent Letterkenny in the national Tidy Towns Competition. This is not happening this year, but the efforts involved in preparing the town for the competition are all about improving the local environment, and will thus continue.

In a normal year, there would be regular Sunday litter picks, including the ‘adopt a road’ scheme. These are on hold for now, but people all over the town are taking it upon themselves to clean up their own areas, and we help to facilitate this by providing litter grabbers, High Vis jackets, gloves, bags and so on, as well as getting involved ourselves, of course. The Council, with help from Glenard Plant, do a great job of keeping the town clean but they can’t be everywhere, so every piece of litter lifted by a member of the public helps to keep our town beautiful.

{NOTE – since the article went to press, we did get the Sunday litter picks going again, and were delighted by the number of new volunteers who came along (a 7-fold increase of participants compared to this time last year! Thanks so much to all of you). The litter picks are now wound down for the winter and for the level 5 lockdown, however several of us will continue to do individual litter picks, and bags, gloves etc can be provided to anyone else who wishes to clean their local area.}

A fine turn out for a recent Sunday litter pick

The Tidy Towns Committee helps to co-ordinate the work done by the Community Employment Scheme, typically involving weeding, hedge trimming, planting flowerbeds and placing flower boxes.

The Tidy Towns committee is working to encourage biodiversity. See next month’s article for more on this!

The Tidy Towns committee liaises with residents associations, community groups such as Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter, local businesses and the council to highlight the work that needs to be done and to determine the best way to do it. A part of this is the annual Cleaner Community Campaign, where Tidy Towns works with residents associations to facilitate local clean-ups, and local environmental initiatives.

Flower boxes are placed around the town by Tidy Towns

As you will have gathered from the above, some of our ‘normal’ work has been put on hold due to the strange times we’re living in, but we are still very much involved in smaller scale projects, and in encouraging members of the public to get going with their own projects. As an added incentive, we are currently running a garden competition with three categories – small garden, large garden and wildlife encouraging garden. For more details, see our website or our Facebook page.

There are several other ongoing projects, such as cleaning up the Sentry Hill area and looking into improving the murals in Lower Main Street, along with informal litter picks being done by individuals.

Read more

Garden Competition – Best Large, Small and Wildlife Friendly Categories

We at Letterkenny Tidy Towns are running a garden competition from 20th of July to 31st August with three categories.

Because the Cleaner Community Campaign had to be cancelled this year due to Covid 19 restrictions Letterkenny Tidy Towns are delighted to run a garden competition for the Best Large Garden, Best Small Garden and Best Wildlife Friendly Garden categories. Each category is dedicated to previous Tidy Town members.  See below for details of the categories.

The competition will run from 20th July to 31st of August where the entries will be judged and each category winner will receive a trophy and an Alcorns Gift Voucher. Please note that we can only accept entries from Letterkenny and the surrounding townlands.

If you would like to showcase your garden this summer and be in with a chance of winning one of these great prizes, please send a maximum of 5 photos per garden category via email including your name and contact number to lktidy@gmail.com or via post to
The Secretary,
Letterkenny Tidy Towns,
Magees Pharmacy,
Co Donegal.

Closing date for entries is August 31st.

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 wild life.

Your garden doesn’t need to be as large or as elaborate as this one at Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam! It just needs to be an average or larger sized Letterkenny garden to qualify.

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 wild life.

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.

This category is all about encouraging natural growth to help out the pollinators and give wildlife a home.

Read more

The Flowering Of Church Lane – by Donnan Harvey


The mission statement of Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter is to regenerate the historic Church Lane street and surrounding areas to create a vibrant Historic Cultural Quarter in the heart of Letterkenny. Our Cathedral Quarter committee is only small in number and we would not have been able to achieve our goals without the support and assistance of other groups in the town.

Letterkenny Tidy Towns have played a substantial role in assisting us to make the Church Lane street as attractive as possible. One way we have done this is through installing flower boxes all along with Lane and this is an excellent example of how different Community groups can work together on the one project. The Tidy Towns have sponsored the flowers while Letterkenny’s Men Shed made the wooden boxes, which we put the flowers into.

No. 2 Church Lane

It is a really big day when the flowers land in the Cathedral Quarter and it is a true sign that summer is with us. The flowers are expertly prepared in the greenhouses of Alcorns Garden Centre and were really blooming when they arrived with us. It takes us a few days to put all the flowers out on the Lane, first putting the boxes on the window sills at ground level and on the second day, we erected the boxes on the first floor level.


As part of the historic towns Initiative, hooks were installed on the window ravels and so when the flower boxes were installed, we tied wire across them so they were secured. With each year, the flower arrangement gets brighter and bigger and Charlie Grant from Tidy Towns has been absolutely brilliant in arranging this transition. Charlie has planned that we will grow wild flowers on the coping of the stone walls that surrounds Grieve fields so the Church Lane will continue to be very colourful over the next few years.


To ensure the flowers remain vibrant all summer long, they must be continuously watered and here again, tidy towns have really helped out the Cathedral Quarter so this can be done. A watering machine was purchased so I didn’t have to go up a ladder to water the flowers that were up on a height. Similarly, they installed a Water Harvesting System at the back of No.3 Church Lane so the rainwater is collected and is used for watering the flowers.

It was really unfortunate that the National Tidy Competition is not happening this summer because no doubt the judges would be very impressed by the flower arrangement and all the work done under the Historic Towns Initiative. What is more impressive that the flowers themselves is the co-operation between Cathedral Quarter and the Tidy Towns in making this happen. It illustrates what happen when two organisations come together work on a project and the leadership shown by Letterkenny Tidy Towns is an example to all other Tidy Towns organisations across the country.

Read more

Tidying Our Own Neighbourhood

My wife Morag and I moved to Letterkenny in spring of 2019, and love living in Lisnennan, on the edge of Letterkenny. As the winter began to fade away and the undergrowth pared itself back, we began to notice that our road was getting increasingly littered. In part, this was new litter being dropped, whether out of car windows, blown from bins on windy days or maybe just blown from elsewhere in town. It was particularly bad around the bottom end of the Lisnennan hill, around the Educate Together School and up the steep part of the hill. Therefore, we decided to do something about it. With the help of Gerard Mc Cormick of Tidy Towns, and also with the support of the council’s litter warden, we received our litter picking kits, namely gloves, bags, and a few of these nifty litter grabbers.

Litter on the verge and hanging from the fence beforehand.
Lisnennan After
Spick and span afterwards.

By the time we had worked our way home, we had collected 13 bags. The council litter warden turned up the next morning to remove the bags.

Lisnenan Bags

We put the word out on our local residents’ WhatsApp group, letting them know what we were planning, and several of them agreed to help out. This was pre social distancing, but even now, it could still be done as a community effort if everyone keeps apart and picks their own patch to concentrate on. Anyway, one morning in early March we were ready to go. In typical Donegal style, the weather was sunny, rainy and windy, cold and warm, often all 5 at the same time. We decided to start from the bottom of the hill and work our way up. Because it had not been done for a while, there was a lot to pick up, but we worked our way up the hill, getting lots of friendly waves from motorists along the way, and one new friend who turned up with bags and a picker of his own and joined in.

Because there had been quite a lot of litter, we hadn’t completed the job on the first day, so we went back a week later to complete the area around the Educate Together School. We gathered another 5 bags, which the litter warden kindly took away for us.

In the 2 months since then we have monitored the area, and have done 3 more litter picks. However, thanks to the initial clean-up, a litter pick now doesn’t take much longer than it would take to do a normal walk up and down the hill, and we would only need to take 1 or 2 bags. It’s heartening to see that the area, while certainly not spotless, is not getting anything like as untidy as it was initially, and it gives us great satisfaction to know that we’re doing our bit to keep the area beautiful.

So what changes have we noticed over the last 2 months? Well at the start of March, the main litter items were cans (particularly Red Bull), takeaway containers, water bottles and coffee cups. Now that we’re into lockdown, there are still plenty of cans but the coffee cups and water bottles have been replaced by disposable gloves and disinfectant wipes!  However, the main thing is there is a lot less litter there now, and long may it remain so.

To find out how you can help to keep your area tidy, see Do your own litter patrol

Read more

Pollinator Planting

It is the intention of the Tidy Towns team to integrate pollinator plants such as Blazing Glory into hanging basket and Salvia in container plant boxes in and around the Market Square, this will be of great interest to our bee population.

Consultation on future of Market Square in Letterkenny this week ...

Wild Flower Meadow

Also, plans are underfoot for a wild flower meadow in Sentry Hill.  This will be developed in partnership with the Tidy Towns CES Scheme and Donegal Co. Council over a 3-5 year period.

Also, Letterkenny parks section is looking at a similar wild flower project for the Ballymacool Park to begin in the Autumn of this year in the upper area of the park. The Tidy Towns team representatives are to meet with the gardening staff of Oakfield Park to learn from their experience of the trials and errors involved when establishing the wild flower meadow in their parkland gardens.

Read more

Memorial to be unveiled at new Leck cemetery

A MEMORIAL will be unveiled at new Leck Cemetery early next month in honour of the hundreds of patients from St Conal’s Hospital who were buried there.
Deceased patients have been brought to the new cemetery at Leck since the graveyard at St Conal’s closed in 1902. There were no headstones or grave markers in Leck Cemetery to indicate their presence or location and St Conal’s Graveyard Restoration Committee have decided to erect a memorial and information board to mark this burial area.
This memorial service had initially been planned for last December but unfortunately due to serious storm warnings for that day they had to cancel it. The service of remembrance will be held at new Leck cemetery on Sunday, March 8, at 2.30pm to respectfully remember those people who were buried here between 1902-1980.
The St Conal’s Hospital Graveyard Restoration Committee came together in 2016 to restore the old graveyard at the back of St Conal’s Hospital. The Committee is made up of several community groups including Letterkenny Men’s Shed, the Letterkenny Tidy Towns Committee, Letterkenny CDP, TUS, several individuals and supported by the HSE Mental Health Services and HSE Estates Office.

Local historian and former psychiatric nurse Hugh Devlin said that ‘new’ Leck cemetery is more than 120 years old and was initially purchased by the Letterkenny Town Commissioners in 1897 as a non-denominational cemetery.

“That same year the Management Committee of St Conal’s Hospital purchased an adjoining plot of ground for their own future use. It was only after the closure of the graveyard behind St Conal’s Hospital in March, 1902 that the hospital transferred all internments to this plot at Leck. Patients who were buried here would have come from throughout the length and breadth of County Donegal and from all religious backgrounds,” Mr Devlin said.

Chairperson of the committee, Betty Holmes thanked everyone involved in the project for their time, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment, and to the Parish of Conwal and Leck for their assistance.

Credit – https://donegalnews.com/2020/03/memorial-to-be-unveiled-at-new-leck-cemetery/


Read more

When Letterkenny claimed the ultimate title

When Letterkenny claimed the ultimate title of Ireland’s Tidiest Town in 2015 it was an achievement that could never be described as an overnight success. Not something that had come about through the efforts of a hastily convened committee in the months leading up to the adjudication process that year.

No, this was because of the dedication and commitment of a small body of people who, over many years previously, had set about transforming Letterkenny from a town that had all too consistently fallen below the standards set by the National Tidy Towns competition.  There was an all too obvious reason why it had been renamed ‘LITTERKENNY’ as a cursory glance at the main thoroughfares and off streets all too clearly showed.

But that was then.

Under the original guidance of the late Jim McCormick and then onto Anne McGowan who steered the local Tidy Towns Committee into the body it is today, Letterkenny edged away from that easy won reputation of littered streets and general unkempt appearance to the hard won look of the present.

The Tidy Towns initiative is not, of course, one that has sole focus on litter – there are so many other aspects that must be taken into account including the monitoring of amenity and directional signage, enhancement of wildlife habitat and national amenities, the promotion of waste minimisation, and the upkeep of landscaping and streetscaping.. And much more besides.

The annual Cleaner Community Campaign – 2020 represents the 35h year of the initiative – is a hugely important part of the Tidy Towns drive, drawing in the involvement of households and estates, businesses and schools while April is designated National Spring Clean Month to help maintain the crusade to keep Letterkenny and its environs tidy.

Hard work it was, and has been, to bring the town into close proximity of a national award after having been so far removed from such an achievement.

Letterkenny first entered the National Tidy Towns competition in 1986 and after a number of years of knocking on the door, finally began to gain the national recognition that work had earned.

In 2007 it was named as Ireland’s Tidiest Urban Centres – its first major award and one that was to be followed by even greater acknowledgements in subsequent years.

The town gained another major feather in the cap in 2008 when it was chosen to represent Ireland in the international Entente Florale competition – established to recognise municipalities and villages in Europe for excellence in horticultural displays.

In the years after Letterkenny continued to flower until 2015 brought it to the heights only the dedicated few could have foreseen – the Tidiest Town in Ireland.

The Gold Medals have continued in the ensuing years as have the relentless efforts.

Those behind the Tidy Towns Committee say the yearly competition acts as a catalyst for them to improve the sense of community in the town. An attractively presented town improves the quality of life ensuring it has a better chance to thrive – the overall environmental improvements helping to create jobs and stimulate the local economy.

The entire community can play its part in making sure this continues to be so.


Read more

34th Cleaner Community Campaign – 2019

This is a campaign where the national Tidy Towns organisation works together with communities to facilitate community clean-ups and local environmental initiatives.

We are delighted to announce the 2019 winners as follows

  1. SHOP FRONT :                                      MOURNE ANTIQUES, Frances Spears
  2. RETAIL AREA :                                      LETTERKENNY SHOPPING CENTRE, Brian Mc Cracken
  3. PUBLIC HOUSE :                                   MC CAFFERTY’S BAR, LOWER MAIN STREET, Brendan Maxwell, 77 Glenoughty Close.
  4. HOTEL/GUESTHOUSE :                     BALLYRAINE GUEST HOUSE, Hugh & Mary Smith
  5. REASTURANT/ COFEE SHOP :         PAT’S On The Square, MARKET SQUARE, Pat & Mary Bradley
  8. 3 BEST KEPT AREAS :                         THE GRANGE 47-83 – Oran Doherty No.65,  TARA COURT – Annemarie Russell No. 59,
    WOLFE TONE PLACE – Maggie Marley No. 29
  9. BEST KEPT ENTRANCE :                   GLENCAR PARK – John Blake No 14
  10. BEST FLOWER DISPLAY :                 ST COLMCILLE’S HOSTEL – Ciaran Mc Guire
  12. LARGE GARDEN:                                 PATRICK FRIEL, LONG LANE, GLENCAR IRISH, Sean Higgins Memorial Award
  13. SMALL GARDEN :                                JAMES JOHNSTON, 11 KNOCKAMONA PARK, Charlie & Rose Devlin Award
Read more