Abbeyshrule strikes gold at Entente Florale Awards

What a difference a week makes.

What a difference a week makes.

Those are the words resounding in the ears of less than 200 homeowners in the south Longford village of Abbeyshrule following yet another gold winning victory at the weekend.

Fresh from their Tidy Towns double success the previous Monday, locals had cause to celebrate once again last Friday evening as the locality received further notoriety, only this time on the international stage.

Adjudicators from Europe’s Entente Florale Competition presented Abbeyshrule with the competition’s highest honour, adding to its accomplishments of just four days earlier when it claimed the mantle of being the country’s tidiest town as well as village.

Giving his reaction barely 48 hours later, Tidy Towns Chairman Philip Butler said villagers were still attempting to digest the news.

“To be one of the six winners of a gold medal is just amazing,” he said after the awards ceremony in the Dutch city of Venlow. “Last night (Sunday) we had a welcoming home party in Abbeyshrule and there were people there from Abbeyshrule and other villages.”

Sunday’s celebrations marked the second such occasion the idyllic village has played host to in less than a week.

And according to Mr Butler, it’s a milestone which vindicates several years of unrelenting effort by a committee of 26 hard-working volunteers.

“The emphasis of the Entente Florale was on community spirit and clear open spaces. The visit by the 12 European judges, Tidy Towns judges and the resukts we have got has given us all great confidence. What we did was we retained Abbeyshrule in its best natural form and what this shows is that it’s not all about big investment and throwing money at it,” he said.

Reserving a special mention for support received from groups such as Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL), Mr Butler said he hoped other villages would draw inspiration from Abbeyshrule’s achievements.

“We got great praise from other places like Emly in Tipperary who said it was nice to see other villages getting it (top award). Since then, we have had so many visitors to the village. Yesterday, Abbeyshrule had more crowds than if there was an airshow on,” he added.

Proof, perhaps, of the solidifying impact volunteering and mutual co-operation can have on a community.