Tidy Towns Competition 2016
Adjudication Report: Cullohill
Mark: 270. Mark Awarded 2015: 260
Community Involvement & Planning:
The adjudicator would like to welcome Cullohill to the 2016 National Tidy Towns Competition. Thank you for your entry form which was nicely laid out, contained concise information and was easy for the adjudicator to navigate.
Your hand drawn map was a great help on adjudication day. You have a strong Tidy Towns committee of 15
members and receive assistance from other volunteers on a regular basis, so well done in this. We also note the success you have in gaining support from Local Businesses, and many thanks for their support. The success you have in getting local people to support your work is great to see from the photographs you supplied with your submission, and long may you continue to have this local help. Keeping links with your volunteers will be key to your on-going success and the larger your available workforce the easier it will be to complete tasks. You have an excellent working relationship with your school and they have been actively supporting your work, the winning poem by Sarah Bergin really captured the spirit of Tidy Towns in the Village. We are glad to hear that participating in the competition has been so fruitful for your community.
Built Environment and Streetscape:
Your village has a lovely mix of new and old and in spite of being dissected by a busy road retains a real sense of place and community. The telephone exchange was neatly painted and perhaps a native hedge could be planted to the post and wire boundary here to help screen the site. The school is a central building for the community and sits within maturing trees with lots going on in the school garden which indicated both indoor and outdoor teaching takes place which is great to see. The nicely painted tone of green used at gate posts and boundary wall at the church fitted well with the rural landscape and the mature Limes at the car park add so much to the setting here. Thank you for the before and after photos here which demonstrated the work involved in reaching this standard of boundary presentation. The community centre was neat and well presented. Do you know if there is a need for bicycle racks in the village, either for school children, mass goers or passing tourists on cycling tours? Your efforts to promote walking and cycling in the village seem to be a success for you. Improving the village for resident could be followed by improvements to encourage passing cyclists for example at the picnic area?.
Landscaping and Open Spaces:
Well done in your investment in tree planting in the village and this will ensure a long term landscape structure for the village. The recently planted ash trees on the main approach road will only add to the feeling of arrival in the village as they mature over the next decade. Likewise the oak tree at the old homestead and the hornbeams by the post office will only add to the ambience of the village as they mature. Ensure all tree ties are removed from trees after the first couple of growing seasons or once they become established to prevent them rubbing against the bark and damaging the trees. Also replace any trees that fail in the next season. Try to plan your tree planting strategy so that each year, as funds become available, you can build on the previous year’s planting. Contact the Tree Council of Ireland and take part in national tree week to create a focus for your tree planting activities. Well done to your TUS workers for their help in maintaining your millennium garden.
Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:
Your application shows an understanding of the habitats that surround you so well done in advancing your projects here and getting sound advice from organic experts and beekeepers in the community. Have you considered introducing a varied grass mowing regime at the castle area to improve its habitat value? You could manage this amenity area in a ‘hay meadow’ system with a first cut in June. Alternatively keep the grass cut until May and then leave it uncut until August. To demonstrate that this is a deliberate choice of management, close-cut a strip, one metre wide, around the uncut area or cut a network of grass paths through the area. The well maintained and simple signage here for walks and the Binnlea Loop were particularly admired. As you hope to install bee hives near the bug hotel try to ensure all planting in the village, be it in your tubs or at the name sign, are pollinator friendly varieties. The bank of purple themed perennial planting at the information signs/ rockery area are a much more sustainable option and should replace your begonias which have limited value for pollinators. Good bee plants provide excellent sources of nectar or pollen – and even better if they provide both. For this reason, some highly cultivated ornamental plants such as begonias are not necessarily very useful for bees, primarily because they contain little nectar or pollen.
Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:
As a community you seem to have made a concerted effort to address the issue of rainwater harvesting and good luck with setting up your compost station as this is a very practical way to address this category. You have held an auction in the community to raise funds but this is also is a way of recycling items. Does the committee or the local residents take part in the Earth Hour? These initiatives can all be included in this category. For further advice we would encourage you to visit http://localprevention.ie/tidy-towns/ . The Local Prevention website have added a specific 'Tidy Towns' page to their website so you can 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 progress in this category.
Tidiness and Litter Control:
The standard here was high with very little litter evident in the village core area so well done to all involved in the regular litter picks. The recycling centre is neatly tucked away at the rockery and was neat and free of windblown litter on adjudication day. Well done in your community wide participation in the Clean Up Laois Week. We wondered if all bins were necessary in the village. You might keep an eye on the usage of, for example, the bin by the old telephone exchange. If this is getting little use it could perhaps be removed as it is not the most attractive item. Agricultural buildings in the village were well kept. The presence of the roofless home at the core of the village is somewhat distracting but your effort to paint window boards and enliven it with planters is appreciated.
Residential Streets & Housing Areas:
Garden boundaries and hedges, which have such an impact on your linear village, were well looked after so well done to all residents for the efforts put in to their upkeep. The simple Ballynevin name stone and stone benches by the milk pail feature just past the church is a nice spot and well maintained. You have a number of traditionally laid out farming homes and outbuildings in the village near the castle which add so much to the village character and again were well presented. These building have been an integral part of our agricultural heritage for generations, and their contribution to the character and beauty of Cullohill is recognised.
Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:
Approach roads were well maintained with the town signs neatly maintained and easily read. We wish you luck with your efforts to link the village path to the school as this will also encourage walking by residents. The stone walls that line roadsides in the village create a great setting for you and we note in your submission that you power wash the walls. Keep in mind that our stone walls can be mini habitats with ferns and lichen often present. In fact when stone is bare, weathering should be encouraged, perhaps by adding a little soil to gaps in the stones or even splattering the face with manure!! Look after the old wrought iron gates along the village roads as they are often forgotten elements of our rural cultural heritage. Talk to your heritage officer about the best approach to take if restoring these valuable heritage objects.
Well done to all involved in this year’s application and thank you for your hard work and commitment. We admired your commitment to tacking issues in your community head on and this approach seems to be working for you. You have a strong committee full of ideas and can only go from strength to strength in the competition with this can do spirit. We wish you all the best for all your planned work in 2017.