Kenmare Tidy Towns Win 20th Gold Medal

Report and photography by Heike O’Sullivan
Kenmare has done it again! When our hugely active and entirely dedicated Tidy Towns Group won its first Gold Medal back in the year 2000, it was only the beginning. Having garnered the national award by being declared the Overall Winner in that year, Kenmare has deservedly been awarded a much coveted Gold Medal in every single year since, making the 2019 Gold Medal its whopping 20th.

The long awaited results of the 2019 SuperValu Tidy Towns competition were announced on Monday, 30th September last, in their usual venue at The Helix in Dublin. The most effective and important sustainability initiative in Ireland, the Tidy Towns competition received a record number of 918 entries this year, up 35 on last year.

Mr Michael Ring T.D., Minister for Rural and Community Development, and Martin Kelleher, MD of long-time competition sponsors SuperValu, both paid tribute to the country’s immensely hard-working and committed volunteers without whom there simply would not be a Tidy Towns competition. We here at the Kenmare News would like to add our admiration and congratulations to all TT groups in our greater Kenmare area, as well as thanks to the Murphy family of Kenmare’s local SuperValu for their continued support of our hard-working Kenmare TT volunteers and workers.

So, how did the competition entrants in our neck of the woods do this year?

As we now know, KENMARE Tidy Towns returned from The Helix with their 20th Gold Medal in the Tidiest Small Town (D) category and prize money of €900. Just like last year, they also earned a County Awards Commendation with an additional purse of €500. Kenmare TT again managed to improve their points by five precious marks, scoring 336 out of a maximum achievable 470 marks. When calling to our town in two separate visits during the summer, the adjudicators again commented on severe traffic congestion but still found Kenmare “an exciting and delightful town to visit”. They admired the range of colours used on the buildings in town, the floral displays and the number of trees within the town centre. Neidin View estate was singled out for having “the best maintained hedge [of Leyland cypress] we have seen”. Again, back streets such as Market Street and Davitt’s Place got really positive comments for their well maintained architecture as well as their fabulous front gardens. Adjudicators were impressed by the involvement of Kenmare’s youth in some categories and praised our Green Flag schools, particularly St John’s N.S. achieving a 7th Green Flag. Kenmare pupil Laura Haynes was singled out for her brilliant, hand-crafted display board. Although Kenmare scored only 23 out of 50 in the Sustainability category, the judges’ remarks were encouraging and I look forward to seeing more evidence of the “18 different actions” in months to come.

SNEEM Tidy Towns came again home from the Helix a Bronze Medal winner in the Tidiest Village (B) category, earning a €400 cash prize. Sneem TT took top spot amongst Kerry entries in Cat. B, a full 12 points ahead of the Kerry runner-up, scoring 332/470 marks. They were also the only TT group in the greater Kenmare area which managed to win one of the Special Awards, a Pollinator Award, in the Small Town category, securing an additional €1,000 prize. Sneem’s bustling busyness and tidiness much impressed the adjudicators during their visit. They particularly enjoyed the town’s natural features and were delighted by the abundance of red Valerian, considering this the most impressive planting they have ever seen and saying that they will use their photos to teach others about the importance of wild flowers for bio-diversity. Sneem’s many sculptures, the Garden of Senses and the Bird Village were also singled out for special mention.

Three villages in Kenmare’s greater area competed in the Tidiest Village (A) category, County Kerry:

Kilgarvan scored 272 points this year, an increase of four points over last year. Adjudicators were very impressed with the newly renovated stone building in the village centre. Colourful house fronts and floral displays were admired as well as the cosmetic improvements on the main street’s vacant buildings. The school was commended for achieving five Green Flags.

Lauragh also improved on last year’s score, getting 270/470 points. Like last year, judges singled out the school’s “most unusual” mosaic wall and also admired its play area as well as the playground. The appearance of the church, the GAA grounds and the Sibín were also considered very pleasing.

Caherdaniel was awarded 253 points, two more than last year. Buildings such as The Blind Piper and Freddie’s Pub were admired, as was The Walk of the Planets. Judges enjoyed the use of wild flowers such as Stonecrop and Foxgloves in the village’s landscaping but, as in all other towns and villages, there is much scope for improvement in the increasingly important categories of Nature and Sustainability.

Well done to all you Tidy Towns groups, committees, volunteers and workers! Well done in 2019 and much success in 2020!