One of Europe’s most prestigious competitions for towns and villages is getting ready to visit the tranquil village of Abbeyshrule. The ‘Entente Florale Europe’ will send a delegation of 12 jury members to the south county Longford setting on Thursday August 2 next. Each jury member will represent a participating country and these include countries such as Croatia, England, Spain, Holland and Ireland.
“We were invited to take part by the Department of the Environment and nominated by Longford County Council (LCC),” said Mr Philip Butler, chairperson of Abbeyshrule Tidy Towns and Villages committee.
He continued: “We were selected because of our status in the Irish national Tidy Towns and Villages competition. We are the sole Irish representative for the small villages category.” Abbeyshrule secured the Gold Medal in 2011 in the villages category (population less than 200). Ireland will be represented in the larger towns category by Clonmel, County Tipperary.
Asked what this honour means to Abbeyshrule, Mr Butler explained: “It’s a prestigious competition because we are up against high performers across Europe. This is also the first time that Abbeyshrule has represented Ireland in this event.”
Founded more than 25 years ago, Entente Florale Europe has had a previous Longford entrant - Ardagh, who were awarded Prix d’Honneur in 1989. Furthermore, the County Leitrim town of Carrick-on-Shannon took gold in 2010.
According to Mr Butler, the European competition carries all the same categories as the Irish Tidy Towns and Villages competition – but with a different emphasis on certain categories.
“There is a stronger emphasis on environment and sustainability,” he said. “In our presentation we hope to capitalise on the natural amenities that we have, such as the river, the Royal Canal and our many walks.”
Acknowledging the support of Longford County Council, Mr Butler said: “I would like to thank in particular Director of Services, Frank Sheridan, and County Manager, Tim Caffrey. I’d also like to thank Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL).”
On Thursday August 2, the European delegation will visit Abbeyshrule for a four-hour presentation by the local Tidy Towns and Villages committee. The four hours will include a walkabout and a visit to all relevant sites.