Tidy Towns Report: Works complement tranquil rural charm in Attanagh

Tidy Towns Report: Works complement tranquil rural charm in Attanagh
News Reporter news@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Tidy Towns Competition 2016

Adjudication Report Attanagh Mark: 258. Mark Awarded 2015: 253

Community Involvement & Planning:

The adjudicator welcomes Attanagh to the 2016 Tidy Towns competition and thank you for your comprehensive submission. Your map was a great help to the adjudicator and clearly highlighted points of interest in your village and works to be considered as part of your 2016 submission. You have 5 busy members on your committee and you enjoy support from both local agencies and local people to assist your works and seem to have an effective communication network established as well as perhaps the most effect method ‘word of mouth’. We are glad to hear that participating in the competition has been so fruitful for your community and has helped maintain your ‘sleepy old Irish Village Charm’. A 3 or 5 year village plan may be of great benefit to you given the age profile of your residents and the extent of practical help you have in getting projects on the ground, and will also help you gain marks in this category. It can be a simple, achievable, list of your aims for each category of the competition for the coming few years. Look to the Tidy Towns handbook for advice.

Built Environment and Streetscape:

The mix of modern and historic buildings really creates a lovely setting at the core of the village. St Brigid’s Church is a lovely landmark in the village and the gates here could perhaps be painted to improve the appearance of its entrance. The Plastic Factory in the village has no unnecessary signage and we note your works in this regard. It was well maintained but could benefit from some tree planting to the boundary perhaps. The Post office was looking well with its painted bench and pots of summer colour. We noted a lovely old field gate before the Post office. We would urge you to look to Kilkenny Co Co publication on the restoration of these important elements of our rural heritage. The pump walls were freshly white and looked well on a dull wet day and the coping should now be addressed to complete this lovely set piece. The tub of purple perennials set the space off very well. Best of luck with the upkeep of the vacant cottage opposite the church.

Landscaping and Open Spaces:

As mentioned in last year’s report there is potential to develop a network of smaller landscape spaces along your linear village as resources and time allow. We note your planned bike rest area by the old railway bridge and look forward to see this advanced. We liked the mix of native and non-natives in the village beds and encourage you to continue to use planting to advance food supplies for your pollinators. Perhaps the area below the name sign at the church wall could be planted up with more perennials such as Alchemilla mollis or geranium to brighten up this approach and fill in the gaps in the planting here to create real impact. It is important for communities not to focus all of their attention on summer colour but to focus on long term structure planting of trees and remember to replace any that fail in the next season. Perhaps schedule any tree planting so it coincides with National Tree Week, run by the Tree Council of Ireland. This can help you gain support and local press coverage for your tree planting event.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:

Congratulations on the completion of your Biodiversity Plan with support from Laois County Council and this has gained you marks in this category. You have an obvious enthusiasm and now a depth of knowledge of the wealth of habitats in your locality. In fact works that impact on biodiversity run as a theme through most of the categories of your submission which is only correct, for a rural location such as yours has habitat value all around and will have an impact on all you do. As I’m sure your plan has pointed out in some instances the best approach is the do nothing scenario and allow nature the freedom to thrive. However your improvement plans such as the wildlife garden by the pump will be a delight to visit in the coming years and can serve as an educational resource to demonstrate wildlife initiatives to the community and also visitors. Well done in submitting records to nationally organised bat and butterfly surveys in your recognition of the place of your community in the wider network of national habitats.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:

Although not listed in this category in the submission, the mini food banks is a sustainable way to address overproduction and we loved the sound of fruit pressing as a possibility for excess local orchard harvests. Good luck with this initiative planned for later in the summer and we hope to see a comment on its progress in next year’s report. You seem well aware of the dangers of runoff pollution to the local Owenbeg River however some evidence of spraying with chemicals to property near the church gate was seen on the day. We note you hope to reduce this practice and good luck with getting your message across to residents. . Your use of water collection strategies both in the graveyard and among residents is commended. The bring centre was neat with its quirky wheelbarrow planter. To really advance in this category we would encourage you to visit http://localprevention.ie/tidy-towns/ . The Local Prevention website have added a specific 'Tidy Towns' page to allow you see what waste prevention projects have been done by other similar groups around the country. There are various case studies to learn from with practical tips, advice, free downloads of brochures etc. this is a great resource to gain advice on how to develop new initiatives in this category.

Tidiness and Litter Control:

There was no obvious litter noticed in the village core on adjudication day so well done in upholding your standards in this category and to your residents for their weekly walks along the preferred routes mapped in your submission.

Do you take part in the annual spring clean run by an Taisce or Clean up Laois Week? This is a great way to focus attention on this category by joining in with communities locally and nationally for these popular events.

Unfortunately there were a few drinks bottles noted on the road leading into the village which looked as if they had been thrown from passing vehicles. This is a difficult area to get a litter prevention message across as it is often caused by those passing through the village not residents. No doubt these will have been picked up and disposed of responsibly by your excellent litter pickers on their next pass by. The wall to the rear of the bring centre would benefit from washing.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas:

The residential properties in the village were presented to a good standard so well done to all your residents.

Gardens and boundaries, which make such an impacted in a spread out centre, were looking well. Some residents had traffic cones to their frontages which could be removed as they tend to clutter up the verges. As a committee you show an understanding of the relevance and importance of planting native species. Some gardens we felt could accommodate additional planting and perhaps you could compile a list of locally available bird and bee friendly plants which could be distributed to residents to enrich the habitat value of gardens, giving the reasons why native or naturalised species are more appropriate for your rural location and giving a suggested list of species for boundaries or tree planting? It is great to see the old school being lived in and the dead tree in the garden which is so prominent here at the junction could be replaced with a native tree for future generations to admire perhaps.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:

Verges in the village were well presented and we note you consider them your ‘green footpaths’ which is a nice approach to take. The white and black name sign on the approach at the church boundary wall was somewhat hidden by the overhanging branches here so ensure vegetation is cut in front of all village signs to ensure legibility.

We note in your submission that you plan to restore existing signage in time. The finger post opposite the church with the Laois Heritage sign could certainly do with a clean and the black and white post repainted. On a very wet summers day there was a lot of ponding on the road and maybe you could talk to your local Area Engineer about improving the road surfaces in the village as part of any future works.

Concluding Remarks:

Attanagh has a tranquil rural charm and you have managed to carry out works that complement your rural setting without detracting from it and its surrounding habitats. Well done on this. All involved with this year’s entry are warmly thanked and congratulated for their efforts and wished well in 2017.