It’s official-Co Longford is home to the tidiest town in the country.
The south Longford village of Abbeyshrule assumed that mantle on Monday afternoon as this year’s Tidy Towns Awards were disclosed inside Dublin City University’s raucous Helix Centre.
And in a further boost, Abbeyshrule was also crowned Ireland’s cleanest village in a double award winning feat that has left locals and committee members astounded.
Its chairman Philip Butler struggled to sum up the enormity of it all as spoke to the Leader just hours after the awards were officially announced.
“We are just ecstatic over it,” he said, amid a hue of noise. . “We would have been delighted to have got the small village category but to win the overall award, well we are just flabbergasted. It’s beyond our wildest expectations.”
The accolade, Abbeyshrule’s first in its history, is the fifth such honour for the county since the competition’s foundation 55 years ago.
Newtowncashel (1980) and Ardagh’s hat-trick of victories in 1989, 1996 and 1998 represented Longford’s four previous successes on the national stage.
According to Mr Butler, the victory can be attributed to a combined effort from local volunteers and broader based organisations.
“We had fantastic support from the people as we did from Waterways Ireland, FAS, Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL) and Longford County Council. Even Bord Na Mona came on board to help us,” he continued.
But it was the implementation of a dedicated or what he termed “strategic plan” which proved the decisive factor in Abbeyshrule’s gold-winning exploits, Mr Butler outlined.
“We put down cabling undergroud for lights, things like that,” he added. “We also got great support from the council in that we carried out household surveys.”
The committee decided to e to remove all of the village’s street litter bins three years ago in a bid to combat littering and illegal dumping of household rubbish. This decision proved key in securing the overall award.
That attention to detail is an area Mr Butler hopes will also prove crucial as villagers now turn their attentions to this year’s Entente Florale Competition.
The winners of Europe’s top environmentally friendly town and village will be unveiled on Friday in the Dutch city of Menlow.
“It’s definitely not over yet,” laughed a decidedly more relaxed Mr Butler. “Anything that happens from now on will be a bonus.”
Should that unexpected extra come in the form of another gold on Friday evening, Abbeyshrule and Co Longford for that matter could be in line for its biggest party in decades.
See page 6 & 7. Also check out our video report from Abbeyshrule on www.longfordleader.ie.