For the second year running, Portlaoise have received a silver medal, which included a prize of €700.
Their score went up by seven points, to 289. The committee of 21 were commended on working with many voluntary groups, while further involvement with sports, retirement and youth groups was suggested. Judges praised their links with Laois County Council, local businesses and schools.
Historical buildings and features on the heritage trail were much admired, including the “stunning” courthouse, and St Peter’s Church, Market Square and St Fintan’s Hospital.
The layout of old and new shopping areas within walking distances of each other was praised. Main Street’s “charming shops” included Ramsbottoms, Robert Redmond, Donahues, TSB and O’Loughlin’s Hotel. Narrow interlinking lanes were “a lovely feature” though some weeds were noted.
They were “very impressed” with the Treo Nua centre, the Council offices and the Civic Plaza, but encouraged the council to work on improving derelict sites in the town.
New landscaping projects were commended, in particular planting at James Fintan Lalor’s statue, the Triogue and the church which added “lovely summer colours”.
The Grattan Centre and Portlaoise hospital grounds were “looking very well” but Portlaoise prison grounds were overgrown and weeds were prevalent at Portlaoise Leisure Centre.
The Peoples Park was praised as a wildlife habitat and local amenity, with suggestions for a wildlife studies by schools.
Litter control was reported as generally good with the vast majority of areas litter free. Some small littering was noted on the Mountmellick and Ridge road, at the ESB depot, the Garda Station and the Bring Centre.
Overall tidiness was impressive, with “a great many areas appeared weed free”. Roadsides, verges and footpaths were generally clean and neatly swept. They appreciated the large area needing maintainance, and the committee’s work to remove graffitti and clean signs.
Individual problems included a poor quality roadsign on the Mountmellick road, and the condition of railings at St Paul’s NS and the presentation convent basketball court. The empty 4Homes unit was untidy looking, as was the ESB depot beside Tesco, the nearby Bring bank, Laois Education Centre and the Cuisle Centre.
The general condition of residential estates was impressive, with amenity areas and planting. Dun Masc on the Dublin road stood out, as well as Hawthorne Drive, Liogard, Grenville, Cherrygarth and Kylebrook.
Approach roads to the town are “in very good condition” with landscaping and no weeds, with praise given to the committee and residents.
The judges enjoyed their visit to Portlaoise, and said results were impressive, wishing the committee continued progress.