Castletown, Portlaoise and Abbeyleix were the medal winners as Ballacolla was highly commended and Killenard receiving an endeavour award in another good year for the Tidy Towns in Laois.
Portlaoise received a silver medal this year in category G for large urban centres with a population of between 15,001 and 25,000 with 289 marks, up seven from last year. Abbeyleix also received a silver medal in category C for small towns with a population of 1,001 to 2,500 with 297 marks. Both towns received €400 as part of the award.
There were also two bronze medal recipients in the county. Castletown received 301 marks in cetegory B for villages with a population between 201 and 1,000 while Ballacolla received 298 marks in category A for villages with a population of under 200 people.
Killenard won this year’s endeavour award with is presented to places with the highest improvement on last year’s marks. Killenard received 253 marks, an increase of 6.751% on 2011. They received €500. Of the county awards, Castletown scored highest in Laois, while Ballacolla was highly commended and Abbeyleix was commended.
This year was the first year of the Tidy Towns Hero and out of tens of thousands of volunteers, Ballacolla’s Noreen Byrne was chosen along with 12 other recipients. Next door in Abbeyleix, the town also enjoyed some extra recognition, as Abbeyleix Supporting Sustainable Communities received the national award for sustainable development. This award was presented by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and the group received €1,000.
Mary White of Abbeyleix Tidy Towns was delighted with the town’s succcess this year. “It was fantastic to win the national award and know we are going on the right track. It was very rewarding for a small committee. You have to have a sense of the place you’re living in and a pride of place”. Abbeyleix Tidy Towns have a core group of between eight and ten people who work all year round. This year it was noted by Tidy Towns judges that the residents’ associations from around the town did very well in maintaining housing estates in the area.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, Kathleen O’ Brien of Portlaoise Tidy Towns said that the committee were thrilled with the win. “We are absolutely delighted with the silver medal, we were up at the awards ceremony. There are about 12 or 13 people on the committee and we work all year round”.