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The Tidy Towns Association

Ardmore Memory and Story - Life and Work

13. The Tidy Towns Association
The history of the Tidy Towns Association is a long and eventful one and deserves to be recorded. It falls into four distinct phases. The different climate of the times in the various periods is worth noting.

1963 - 1973
It was through the efforts of the I.C.A. that the Tidy Towns Association was formed in Ardmore. As far back as 1954, they were concerned with the image of the village. At the June guild meeting in 1959, it was decided to ask the Co. Council to retain the services of the councilman in the village, instead of taking him off street cleaning services as had happened the previous summer (note far different circumstances of 1999). A few litter bins were also requested. In September the council was written to, as regards the objectionable condition of the Cúlam, (the cliffs on the way to Fr. O'Donnells Well) owing to the system of disposing rubbish there (on the part of the council).

In October 1962, the question of entering for the Tidy Towns competition was discussed. Bord Failte was also contacted and on Tuesday 23rd April 1963, a public meeting took place in St. Declans Hall, attended by a representative of Bord Failte who showed relevant slides. Fr. Griffin C.C. chaired the meeting and the Tidy Towns Association was founded.

Ciss Quain was vice-chairman, but for most of the first year acted as chairman, as Fr. Griffin was changed from Ardmore, Desmond Connery was secretary, Donal O'Brien was treasurer, Michael Moroney was press representative and Srgt Quinn was liaison officer. From 1964 - 1973 Frank Nugent became chairman and treasurer, Siobhán Lincoln became secretary and John Cashman became vice-chairman.

It was gratifying to become recipients of a Tidy Towns award in 1964, for the best seaside resort of under 500 in population. C. Quain, Kathleen Keane and B. O'Brien went to Virginia, Co. Cavan to bring home the certificate. The prize itself of £75 would not be paid until plans were drawn up for spending it. The Tidy Towns Association added £50 to it and this was further augmented by the Co. Council.

The plans provided for the improvement of the graveyard area, more public seating and improvement of the flowerbed on Bóthar na Trinse and it involved on-going negotiations until 1966. The association was also pressing for the improvement of the Boat Cove. The existing wide slip leading down to the beach area, had, at this stage, a large area of rough stones extending towards the cliff to the right and it was 1972 before the association succeeded in having the concrete area extended, so that boats could also be pulled up there.

In 1964, John Walsh, horticultural advisor came and suggested types of trees for the stretch along the river behind the village and these were planted.

The question of the derelict sites at Ardmore was always a bone of contention and in February 1965, the association did suggest to the council that those in the street be used for housing and this was done at a later stage. It was involved very much in the housing problem since 1965 and away into the 70's. There is voluminous correspondence with Charlie Curran, local councillor. For a long period houses would not be built, because of a lack of suitable applicants and also because the council was not aware, it owned a site at Ardmore.

In 1970, a letter from Mr. Hally, Co. Engineer to C. Curran says, "With regard to the Ardmore organisation's assertions that the council has land at Ardmore suitable for housing sites, I shall be grateful if you will be so kind as to indicate where the land is situated." Eventually, after a meeting in Rev. Fr. Power's P.P. house, the county manager, John Cashman and Siobhán Lincoln brought the manager to the school grounds. From there the extensive site behind the existing row of houses was pointed out to him and Fr. Power undertook to make a stretch in the eastern side of the school grounds available, in order to make an access road. The top terrace was eventually completed in 1976.

Funds: From June 1964, an annual dance was held during the summer in the local hall. It is interesting to note the fee for the bands; the Royal Aces in 1965 cost £13 and admission fee was 3/-. Their fee increased through £20 to £25 in 1965, when the admission fee was 7/6. The Musketeers charged £30 in 1971, admission fee 35p. The Double Unit came in 1973 and on several other occasions. A fact worthy of note, is that Mary Hegarty (daughter of the band-owner) the well-known Cork singer came with them usually and sang with the band, when she was but a slip of a girl. She became a well-known singer later.

The climate of the times was completely different and has changed immeasurably since those early days. For instance, in April 1964, the committee was informed that the council had no function in the building of walls. In June 1964, they would not accept responsibility for tubs on the footpaths (donated by Rus Perks). In June 1964, they were written to, asking that the streets be swept three times a week, during the summer months. On 22/9/64, the council was asked to collect and remove rubbish by lorry twice weekly, instead of dumping it over the cliff at the Cúlam.

Achievements 1963 - 1973
(a) Survival in a climate of indifference and apathy.
(b) 1964 award; 1970 award, a special prize of £25 from S.E.R.T.O. for being the most improved area in Co. Waterford, in the Tidy Towns competition.
(c) Plot at Bóthar na Trinse, also at graveyard.
(d) Approach slip at the boat cove extended to base of cliff.
(e) Improvement of Goat Island road.
(f) Gateway at southern end of graveyard.
(g) Wall and gateway leading to Dt. Declans Well, rebuilt.
(h) Housing problems in 1970's

These were achieved in the difficult times of the 60's and 70's with such a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the public, that disbandment was proposed at times, so it was a commendable and praiseworthy record.

1973 - 1985
There followed a period of expansion, with increased interest on the part of the local authorities and also an increased interest on the part of the community.

The officers were as follows:

Desmond Connery
Mrs Walsh 1981-85

Vice Chairman
John Fitzgerald
R Lincoln

Tommie Mooney
Tom Walsh to 1981
S Lincoln 1981-85

Frank Nugent
Mrs Walsh
Paul McCarthy to 1983
Ann McCarthy '83-'85

Both Chairmen Desmond Connery and Mrs Walsh were worthy leaders, and a heavy programme of work was carried out enthusiastically, bringing major awards, first in 1978 and then in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985.

Achievements 1973-1985
(a) National awards in 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985
(b) Bóthar na Trinse flower bed; plot near Quinns.
(c) Initiation of bed behind the car park opposite the school, planted in 1985.
(d) Housing and derelict sites; 1976 top terrace, then lower ones and finally houses in street.
(e) Prizes for well-kept houses and gardens; window boxes.
(f) International students 1976 and 1977
(g) Trees at school 1983, also at graveyard, along street and in front of new terrace of houses.
(h) Co-operation with G.A.A. in 1978, paying for leveling of school playing pitch.
(i) Advance signs for Ardmore 1980, costing £468.
(j) Tourism promotion.
(k) Elimination of insensitively placed wiring at the graveyard 1984.
(l) Railing along the Straoilleán,
(m) 1983 Marechal de Noailles anchor brought ashore and placed in position in 1985.
(n) Extra lights, seats and bins.
(o) Barrier erected at the roadside in front of the school.
(p) New entrance to the graveyard.
(q) Elimination of motor traffic on the strand.
(r) 1984 and 1985 a band recital by Youghal Brass and Reed Band on the promenade on Pattern Sunday, sponsored by the Tidy Towns Association. Tea and sandwiches afterwards in the I.C.A. room.
(s) Cleaning of St. Declan's Well at Pattern time.

1985 - 1992
At the A.G.M. in 1985, there was a big and welcome influx of new members from the Youghal Road area.

John Fitzgerald Chairman
Rus Perks Vice Chairman
Mrs Walsh Secretary
Miss Cantwell Treasurer

Mrs Walsh Chairman
Breda Hennessy Vice Chairman
Mary Flavin Secretary
Miss Cantwell Treasurer

Ardmore was approved as the village entry for the Entente Florale competition and this meant there was much interest at a higher level. There were various meetings with Bord Fáilte.

The formation of KATS (Keep Ardmore Tidy Society) was an interesting development. These were the children organised by Billy Harty and Currie Hosford, who formed a junior association who painted window boxes, took part in painting competition and arranged teams for collecting litter during summer.

On 24th July (Pattern Day), the judges from the seven participating nations in Entente Florale came to judge Ardmore. The sun shone, the KATS wearing their KATS t-shirts, were lined up to meet them. At the Cross, on the Perks property were seven flower beds in the national colours of the seven countries. From the Straoilléan to the Cove, the seven flags flew proudly and the entourage gradually wound its admiring way to the Cliff House, where there was a reception. In October, Mrs Perks and Mrs Hosford went to Austria, to be presented with a green and white crystal vase, the trophy for attaining 4th place in the competition.

1986 was the year Ardmore won the title of Ireland's Tidiest Village, being just one mark below Kinsale, the overall winners.

The £5000 grant of the previous year had been spent in
(a) Constructing 10 pairs of stone piers on the approach roads to the village and on the New Line.
(b) Erecting rail fencing on the hairpin bend on the New Line (£650)
(c) Shrubbery and additional kerbing on the Youghal Road.
(d) Constructing a stone wall at the sea front car park.
(e) Constructing a fountain in the roundabout.
(f) 24 large sycamore trees were planted at the G.A.A. field.

The cubs and scouts this year were very co-operative and a draw for a bicycle was arranged for the end of the season.

In September 1992, the president, secretary and others of the committee went to Dublin for the announcement of the prize winners in the Tidy Towns competition; not really daring to hope.

D-DAY September 1992
The excitement of the occasion is best portrayed by Mary Flavin in her account in the 'Out & About', the tenseness of the waiting at the reception in Dublin Castle, until at last, the announcement was made. The T.V. cameras, the interviews, the congratulations and leaving for home at 6pm. Then the euphoria of the arrival in Ardmore, when the entire village were out to meet the victorious home-comers.

The following day, the excitement continued, when all marched in the evening to the Beach Park, where there was a huge bonfire and barbecue with Mary Lincoln and John Brabazon being kept busy for hours, cooking sausages and hamburgers. Mary Flavin says "There was not a night like it all through the summer, a calm night with the harvest moon shining over the bay. Music, song and dancing around the blazing bonfire. Jim Lane was leading the team of local musicians. Such excitement, such joy was had by all, a night to be remembered." It was a fitting end to 29 years of endeavour, but the end was not yet.

National Tidy Towns Day was arranged for May 2nd 1993 and the vi8llage was again en fete, even though it wasn't possible for President Mary Robinson to attend, on account of a state visit to Spain. A reception had been arranged at the Cliff House for the Tidy Towns committee, former officers and present patrons, after which all left for the sea-front where there was live entertainment, before the speeches of the chairman, Mrs Walsh, Mr McNulty, Director General of Bord Failte, Mrs S. Scally, chairman of Super-Valu and national sponsors of the Tidy Towns project, Minister Smith minister of the environment, Joe Palmer, Manager of S.E.R.T.O., Austin Crowe, Chairman of S.E.R.T.O. and Brian O'Shea Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Then led by the Castlelyons Pipe Band, the local scouts, cubs and beavers, all marched up the street to the cross, where Mr Smith aided by Mrs Walsh unveiled the engraved bronze plaque marking Ardmore's big day.

President Mary Robinson came on Pattern Sunday 1993, and was accorded a tumultuous reception by the huge crowds, gathered for the occasion, having been welcomed by a guard of honour of Civil Defence members under Colm Bannon C.D.O., then by the 34th Waterford C.B.S.I. troupe together with Girl Scouts, Cubs and Beavers, all under unit leader, James Moloney.

The Presidential Salute was performed by Dungarvan Brass Band and Mrs C. Walsh made a welcoming speech which was responded to by the President. After this she walked up the street and inspected the memorial bronze plaque at the top, marking Ardmore's wonderful achievement.

1986 Tidiest village in Ireland (one mark behind Kinsale, overall National winner)
1987 County Award.
1987 Zanussi National 'Wash-day' Award, £200, children picking up stones and cleaning park near strand, in course of its conversion from derelict site to park.
1988 County Award, 9th year in a row.
1989 Clean Watch award, £500.
1991 Regional Award for South East.
1992 Overall National Award.

(a) Flood-lighting of the Round Tower from June 1986.
(b) Telecom and ESB wires in village put underground in 1990.
(c) Development and planting at car park opposite school.
(d) Development and planting of strand park behind 3 new houses in village street.
(e) Stone walls and piers on approach roads and New Line.
(f) Hundreds of trees planted.
(g) Slogaire tidied and planted.
(h) Roundabout erected at end of the village street, planted in 1991, provided with a fountain in 1992.
(i) Erection of post and rail fencing on Rocky Road, Bóthar na Trinse, at dangerous bend on New Line.
(j) Ardmore approach signs (sponsored by Waterford Foods).
(k) Seating and picnic tables.
(l) Litter problem dealt with efficiently.

All these achievements meant that besides being a period of immense activity, it was also a period of immense expense. Thousands and thousands of pounds have been spent on the improvement and embellishment of Ardmore over these years. This money came from:
(a) Prize money from the Tidy Towns awards.
(b) Prize of paint for e.g. From H. Goodlass & Wall. Sponsorships from firms like Currans, Dungarvan.
(c) Sponsorships from Waterford Co-Op Society, Bank of Ireland, AIB.
(d) Local donations from societies e.g. G.A.A., Angling Ass., Ardmore Enterprise Co-op and from individuals.
(e) Annual American Tea Party, church door collection and annual cake sale.

1992 -
1992 marked not alone, the distinction of winning the national award after twenty-nine years of endeavour, but also the inauguration of another phase of endeavour.

Planting proceeded: 24 elegant black litter bins were bought; a section of road side bank out beyond the school was tidied and planted; window boxes appeared as usual at the appropriate times; five Irish signs were erected in the village precints. The two large stones with Aird Mhór inscribed on them were placed in position at the two entrances roads to Ardmore.

The Fás scheme continues to be a great boon to the association, with men constantly at work cleaning, tidying, weeding and planting. The considerable 'Red Tape' work devolves on John Fitzgerald.

Awards were:
1993 Runner up in Category Award Ist County Waterford. Regional Award.
1994 Second in County Waterford.
1995 Second in County Waterford.
1996 Second in County Waterford.
1997 Second in County Waterford. Second in County Environment Award.
1998 Third in County Waterford. Third in Waterford County Council Enviornment Award.
1999 Second in County Waterford.
1999 Overall winners of Clean Crystal County competition.

The 1999 A.G.M. was held on 6th May at the Round Tower Hotel. Mrs Walsh resigned from being chairman but remains in the committee. The meeting bestowed the title of Life President on her in gratitude for her many years of dedication to the Association. The officers of the new committee are as follows.

Billy Harty President
Desmond Connery Vice-President
Don Brockie Secretary
John Fitzgerald Treasurer

Plans for the coming months were arranged and so the good work goes on. S. Lincoln and E. Colbert happen to be the only two who joined in 1963 and have been members ever since. An A.G.M. for 2000 ad has been held. John Fitzgerald is now president, Desmond Connery secretary and Aidan Quirke treasurer. A millenium garden has been inaugurated at the Slogaire, Ardmore is again being entered the the Tidy Towns Competition so a busy year looms ahead.

Author: Siobhan Lincoln

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