SuperValu Tidy Towns 2017: Ballymahon commended for its approach ahead of Center Parcs Longford Forest becoming operational

Ballymahon Tidy Towns committee praised for work on dealing with derelict properties

Alan Walsh


Alan Walsh


SuperValu Tidy Towns 2017: Ballymahon commended for its approach ahead of Center Parcs Longford Forest becoming operational

SuperValu Tidy Towns 2017: Ballymahon commended for its approach ahead of Center Parcs Longford Forest becoming operational

Here's what the SuperValu Tidy Towns 2017 adjudicators had to say about Ballymahon and above are the marks Ballymahon received.

Community Involvement & Planning / Rannpháirtíocht an Phobail & Pleanáil:
Ballymahon is very welcome to the 2017 SuperValu Tidy Towns Competition.
Thanks for the completed application form and the supplementary material that included section maps of the village.The adjudicator felt that the town would benefit from having a dedicated town map that would serve as guide for visitors as well.
The summary of the 3 year plan was concise if a little short on actual timescales. The Tidy Towns committee should instigate the idea and get some local person with design or cartography skills to produce one prior to next year’s competition. What was supplied with the application was a little unwieldy to use on a walkabout.
The committee structure is adequate for a town the size of Ballymahon given that you have an extended volunteer group. In relation to other organisations who work with you maybe you might name them for next year’s application. There seems to be good community support for your work activities and fundraising events.It is noticeable too that you reciprocate support to other organisations.Your fundraising activities are of the tried and trusted variety and pub quizzes and barbeques always bring in the results.
The 21 diverse mix of agencies, local authority and commercial organisations that support your work is not alone impressive but also support you in practical ways by providing information and also as possible funding options. The communication mix is varied mixing the traditional with the newer forms of social media; one assumes that word of mouth also plays its part in getting your Tidy Towns message to the public.
Schools involvement is very important to the work of Tidy Towns so well done to the committee in convincing transition year students in the 2nd level school that being involved adds to the betterment of the town. You’re  proactive approach in raising funds to keep the town looking well given that there will be an influx of visitors when this new exciting leisure project gets up and running is to be commended. Thank you for your positive endorsement of the competition and what it means to the local community.

Built Environment and Streetscape / An Timpeallacht Thógtha agus Sráid-dreacha:
Ballymahon is a town with a fine main street that has many fine and historical buildings and many were shown at their very best on the day of adjudication. Your efforts to effect change that would reflect positively on the town are paying dividends. The adjudicator admired the new information board at its new site where it has a prominent place adjacent to new flower planters. The new pavement area near the Post Office was also noted during the adjudication walkabout.
Well done also on the practical approach you have taken in relation to rundown or derelict properties and it goes back to the old maxim that local knowledge and simple and sensitive forms of communication are the key getting things done  in communities. It has to be stated that that not everyone in a town or village is into Tidy Towns and they have no obligation to be.
The following are a few observations that this adjudicator made during the walkabout. On the way in from Athlone the large Keypak Factory was very well maintained with a nice landscaped frontage. In the centre of the town it was nice to see some old plaster moulded old shop names such a Mac Cormack being retained even if the premises no longer trades as a commercial entity. Many new sections of footpath have enhanced the town centre and indeed made walking safer and the path water channel allows surplice water to flow into gulleys. The streetscape is not overtly dominated by overhead wires and the combination of street lighting and improved footpath and road surfaces gives the main street an open appearance.Traffic calming measures particularly at St Matthews Church were very good.
Some very fine and attractive shop fronts were noted and amongst these are Kiernan’s Pub on Main Street, Cooney’s Hotel which was rare busy catering for a multitude,PJ Diffley Hardware is another old style shop which has retained its originality without compromising its business,Lovell Bros builders providers is another fine example of an established premises that retains its own individuality. The standard of presentation of butcher shop fronts around the country has been exemplary and in Ballymahon K Duncan’s fitted that description, Colette’s Hair Salon is a nice stone fronted premises with a simple but effective name in white against a black backdrop and Ronnie Nallys Pub on the corner of Main Street and Mostrim Road also looked well and was packed with customers awaiting the Connacht Final.
Public buildings in the town were very well maintained, St Matthew’s National School is very large and new Primary School with ample parking and safety measures in place, St Marys Secondary School was kept in similar fashion. St Matthew’s RC Church is another example of the older ecclesiastical building that has such imposing presence in many towns. The local Credit Union premises in a central part of the town looked as if it was recently painted in bright blue and white. The Town’s Post Office is a pretty large establishment and has a prominent place in the core of the town.
It would be remiss not to mention the Town Library and that immediate area which has been revitalised complete with attractive and informative Information Board. On the outskirts of the town on the Athlone entrance Finn's Centra is a fine example of a well appointed service station and Centra Shop. Nallys at the other end of town was also well maintained and tidy. The Longford Westmeath Farmers Co Op Mart is a large establishment that was very impressive having been newly painted and the front area tidied up. The local GAA Club has developed new facilities and the old boundary wall a link with a different era was replaced by a new boundary wall.

Landscaping and Open Spaces / Tírdhreachú agus Spásanna Oscailte:
This is a category that Ballymahon has done well in the last number of years gone by. The 1916 Commemorative Garden is now very much developed and indeed one of the attractions of the town. It is ideally situated for visitors to savour as much as for the local community and on the day of adjudication a number of German tourists were reading the proclamation stone whilst a couple were resting on one of the locally crafted benches.
The whole area here that takes in the car park has been beautifully landscaped.The elongated bed of roses with stone chips and post and rail fencing has transformed this area near bridge and has been further enhanced by the total revamp of the Riverside walk. Excellent work has been carried out by local skilled people which just highlights the importance of community togetherness.
The fact that riverside walk is called after a local historical figure is also important as it will leave a historical legacy for other generations. Yes you have stated a fact when you say that it is hard work to bring a project, such as the People’s Park ,to fruition but it is also rewarding as the end result in this case is just an excellent example of what a public amenity should be – a place of tranquillity and leisure.
With the advent of the Center Parcs Project to the area Ballymahon will be host to many visitors and these facilities will be town attractions in their own right.
Some lovely stand alone planter containers filled with old reliables such as geraniums and begonias to name a few were observed her on the bridge and in around the town centre.The road surface at the bridge as it sweeps down towards Athlone is a little rough so the committee might bring it to the notice of  Longford County Council to include it in their road surfacing plan for 2018. For the excellent work done in this category since last year 2 additional marks have been awarded.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities / Fiadhúlra, Gnáthóga agus Taitneamhachtaí Nádúrtha:
The objective in this category is to create an awareness of local wildlife habitats of one’s catchment area and to manage these in a sensitive manner for the benefit of the wildlife that exists within. Some perfect mini projects have been included in your submission and indeed you have some novel approaches to dealing with the likes of green fly and other harmful pests.
Swifts seem to be popular in County Longford and encouraging them to take up residence by the provision of bird boxes in various parts of the town is to be commended. One presumes that the local Men’s Shed, which incidentally has a very nice HQ centrally situated, helped with the making of the additional bird boxes. The excellent initiative that involved the conversion of a waste piece of land, spreading some topsoil and sowing a wildflower mix shows how a simple approach can have such a worthwhile end result. This is a true example of providing a wildlife habitat for bees, butterflies and insects.
The existing information panel on the fish of the River Inny will be soon supplemented with additional one and you are wished well with this project. Your additional work over the last year has earned you an increase in marks.

Tidiness and Litter Control / Slachtmhaireacht agus Rialú Bruscair:
The standard of litter control was quite good considering that the town has many commercial places where people congregate. It also has high volumes of passing traffic that can also be a contributory factor to littering. Very well done on your weekly patrols as it is not that easy to do the job as it has a very busy main route right through the town.
Overall the level of tidiness except for a few exceptions was very good. Many infrastructural improvements have helped in this respect but there were a number of back and side entrances that need to be cleaned of weeds which unfortunately thrive in the semi humid conditions that prevail at the moment. Businesses should be made aware of the need to restrict fly posting with a view to doing away with it altogether. Derelict and unoccupied properties have been dealt with in a previous section.
Well done on your Dog Mess plan and hopefully local dog owners will avail of the service. Overall the standard was very acceptable.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas / Sráideanna Cónaithe & Ceantair Tithíochta:
The standard of presentation in the housing developments visited was very good. In the first section the adjudicator recommended that a more inclusive and comprehensive map be provided for next year. This map should clearly identify the many housing developments that Ballymahon has and would save an adjudicator the time spent bringing Google maps up on one’s phone to make out  where these developments are.
A cross section comprising of established and newer estates such as the large St Matthew’s Park, Church View to the newer ones like Auburn Village and Moyvale  were visited  and were in the main very well presented with exceptions of course and it looks like that these haven’t improved since last year.
The unruly bed at Church View corner has now become a nice feature and again shows how simple changes can lead to transformation. Last year’s adjudicator alluded to the fact that you have a number of estates that do not have identifying name stones or plaques. The adjudicator feels that the Committee needs to become more proactive in engaging with the residents of these estates and get feedback of what is needed to make improvements where necessary.The private dwellings in the core of the town were well presented and many had attractive frontages with well maintained boundary walls and side areas.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes / Bóithre Isteach, Sráideanna & Lánaí:
The main approach roads into the town were in good condition.The two entrances from both sides of the N55 have plenty traffic calming measures in place as this is one of the busiest primary roads in the country. The Athlone entrance was expansive but there were a few unofficial roadside signs promoting events that were a  little obtrusive. To be honest this happens all over the country when festivals and fundraisers of all descriptions take place over the summer months. The secondary road R392 to both Lanesboro and Mullingar were also very well presented and maintained.
The newly erected memorial seat at Longford Bridge on the Lanesboro exit was admired when examining the entrance. In actual fact that whole area at the canal bank on this road creates a top class first impression of Ballymahon. Signposting was sited at appropriate parts of the town and indicated clearly the destinations on both the N55 and the R392 and to the R397 to Longford Town. Overall the standard was more than acceptable.

Concluding Remarks:
The adjudicator has passed through Ballymahon on a number of occasions and has availed of local hospitality and sustenance at one of its foremost establishments. This was the first time that one had the opportunity to walk around the town and study it in detail. Hopefully the Leinster Fleadh went well.

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