WINNING the accolade of Ireland’s Best Kept Town is the catalyst for Bantry’s future development.
That’s the confident belief of their tidy town’s committee who travelled to Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park last week, and who couldn’t believe their ears when it was announced that Bantry had won the Best Kept Small Town category.
Winning the ‘small town’ category was one thing, but when they heard that Bantry had also won the overall award of Ireland’s Best Kept Town they were practically rendered speechless.
A short time later, Winnie O’Sullivan, the tidy town’s chairperson, did speak to The Southern Star and recalled their absolute amazement.
‘When you win an All-Ireland, it is bound to have a psychological benefit for the entire town,’ she said.
Ireland’s Best Kept Town is an all-island competition in which some of the best towns in the SuperValu Tidy Towns competition compete against their counterparts in a similar competition in Northern Ireland.
Winnie was quick to point out that it was only by working together as a community that they were able to achieve this fantastic result.
‘I have always believed that by working together with other groups you will achieve far greater things and that certainly has been the case in Bantry,’ said Winnie.
A number of local organisations formed the Bantry Project Group. It includes the Tidy Towns committee, Bantry Business Association, Bantry Chamber of Commerce and the Bantry Development & Tourism Association.
But, in addition to the work that they do, Winnie said: ‘You must also add our community employment workers, John O’Regan and Kevin Cronin, who go above and beyond the call of duty.
‘There’s also our 15 fantastic Tidy Towns volunteers because without them it wouldn’t happen. The transition year students, the CoAction clients, as well as members of the National Learning Network and Youth Reach, also get involved in helping to keep Bantry looking neat and tidy and litter-free.’
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind), who travelled to Dublin for the awards ceremony, described the result as being ‘unbelievably good news for the town.’
He said both awards ‘recognise and reward Winnie O’Sullivan and her team, as well as all the volunteers, for their hard work.
‘And it recognisesthe ongoing support of the Council’s staff, particularly the area engineer, Ruth O’Brien.’
Both awards are presented in recognition of the overall attractiveness of the town.
With its brightly-coloured buildings and its stone walls framing the town’s coastal views – not to mention the Bantry House and the imposing Wolfe Tone Square – it is obvious that more and more people will be travelling to Bantry to see it for themselves.
‘There is no doubt this is going to be good for tourism,’ said Winnie.
‘And it might also help our chances in this year’s Tidy Towns competition.’
The Tidy Towns judging got underway on June 7th and will continue right through until early August.
And, after five consecutive silver medals in that particular competition, Winnie admitted: ‘One day we’re hoping for gold.’