Birdhill takes top marks in tidiest town competition
The Tipperary village of Birdhill has taken top marks in Ireland's tidiest town competition.
Overlooking Lough Derg and just off the M7 motorway, it beat off rivals from 870 other towns and villages - a record number of entries - to be named the overall winner as well as Ireland's Tidiest Village.
It is a first for Birdhill, after entering since 1991.
Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development, said the village was a worthy winner .
"TidyTowns is one of the most recognisable environmental initiatives in Ireland, but it also encompasses a way of life here in Ireland, where we show respect for our neighbours and for nature," he said.
"It is clear that working together and getting things done increases people's pride in where they live and helps to build vibrant communities. That is why I am delighted to see this competition continue to attract great interest after almost 60 years."
Other winners announced at the SuperValu National TidyTowns awards, now in their 59th year, were Clonakilty, Co Cork which received the award for Ireland's Tidiest Small Town.
Westport, Co Mayo was named Tidiest Large Town and Ennis, Co Clare again picked up the accolade of Tidiest Large Urban Centre.
Mr Ring added: "TidyTowns is an excellent example of community volunteering and building strong links which enables citizens to have a say in how their community develops.
"The competition epitomises what my department was created to do - to focus on developing vibrant and sustainable communities, in both urban and rural areas.
"My congratulations today go to Birdhill and all of the other deserving prize-winners announced today. The enthusiasm of all those involved in the TidyTowns effort results in the attractive, well cared-for towns and villages we see throughout the country."
Birdhill's Tidy Towns committee operates by the motto for the sake of the little village, taken from the words of Matt the Thresher in Charles Kickham's Knocknagow.
The village itself - Cnocan an Ein Fhinn or The Hill of the Fair Bird - tak es its name from a mythical encounter between Oisin of the Fianna and a giant bird which was causing widespread destruction in the area.
It previously took the title of Tidiest Village in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Martin Kelleher, managing director of sponsor SuperValu, said the volunteers who take part in the competition up and down the country are true heroes.
"SuperValu TidyTowns is a unique initiative that highlights the power of local as communities come together to improve their towns and villages across the country," he said.