Letterkenny wins Ireland's 2015 tidiest town competition out of 862 entries
Letterkenny was named the tidiest of the 862 towns and villages throughout the country that entered this year's SuperValu National TidyTowns competition.
This year marked the eighth time a town in Co Donegal has won the overall prize, but the first time for Letterkenny.
Several representatives of TidyTowns groups gathered at The Helix in Dublin today for the announcement of the winners.
Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government said: "It is clear that working together and getting things done increases peoples’ pride in where they live and helps to build vibrant communities."
The competition also introduced two new awards this year, the Community Diversity Award and the Youth Award.
Martin Kelleher, the managing director of SuperValu said: “At SuperValu we believe in building vibrant local communities and the SuperValu TidyTowns competition goes to the heart of what community is all about.
"The incredible dedication shown by the volunteers involved is truly admirable and continues to amaze us year after year. Their relentless commitment to working for the good of their local community is what makes this competition the success it is today."
SuperValu is Ireland's leading community retailer with 221 stores across the country. The company has sponsored TidyTowns for the past 24 years, one of the longest running sponsorships in Ireland.
Mr Kelleher added: "I am delighted to congratulate this year’s winners and to recognise the dedication of all TidyTowns committees nationwide who make a real difference in towns and villages across Ireland.”
Other winners of the competition included: Clonegal, Co Carlow, was named tidiest village, Listowel, Co Kerry was named tidiest small town, Westport, Co. Mayo was named tidiest large town, and Letterkenny was also named Ireland's Tidiest Large Urban Centre.
Only 52 towns entered the competition in the first year, but now the number of entries have exceeded 800 each year for the last five years as interest in the SuperValu TidyTowns competition increases.
The TidyTowns competition is organised by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and sponsored by SuperValu.
From the start. the primary focus of TidyTowns was to encourage communities to improve their local environment and make their area a better place to live, work and visit.
The national initiative was launched by Bord Fáilte, the Irish Tourist Board (now Fáilte Ireland), in 1958 as part of the 'Tostal', a nationwide festival celebrating all things Irish.
It was a step-up from the original National Spring Clean Campaign, which ran between 1953 and 1957. TidyTowns rapidly developed its own identity and has gone on to become Ireland's most popular, local environmental initiative.