Inishowen Tidy Towns groups react to cancellation of this year’s contest
Inishowen’s Tidy Towns groups have been reacting to the cancellation of this year’s national contest, with the pandemic calling a halt to the event for the first time in its 62-year history.
Buncrana Tidy Towns spokesperson Sinead Ni Bhroin says the decision to cancel the competition was the “right call”, even though “naturally our volunteers are a little disappointed”.
“Once the pandemic hit, we had a sense that public health considerations would put paid to the judges visits to towns and villages across the country. Then there is the administration of the competition itself, from groups’ submissions to the processing of the judges’ reports. This would be a massive task under the current circumstances, and no doubt the department’s staff will be needed elsewhere in the public system in the weeks ahead,” she explained.
She says the decision provides “us all with the certainty we were looking for” and the Buncrana Tidy Towns volunteers are now looking forward to getting fully back to work, as soon as it’s safe to do so.
“We’ve lots of great work lined up for the months ahead. We will be installing our summer flower boxes, continuing with our pollinator work to make sure all our bees and butterflies are looked after and installing new signage for the Buncrana Historical Quarter at the Stone Jug to complement the regeneration works at Swan Park.”
“George McDermott and his team have done some great work over the last few weeks, including replanting the roundabout at the entrance to the town and planting a wonderful native hedgerow at the Causeway Road.”
Sinead said the Tidy Towns is a “resilient movement” and will bounce back.
“Together we will make 2021 an extra special year for the competition,” she added.
‘We’ll do our best to enhance the town’
Meanwhile secretary of the Carn Tidy Towns, Martin Robins, says the cancellation of the national contest hasn’t come as a “major surprise” and was “probably the right call”, given the circumstances.
He says volunteers will continue to work to improve Carn – within the pandemic guidelines – even though no judges will be visiting this year.
“We have our flowers all planted in the polytunnel and they are being watered at the moment and will hopefully be ready for putting into hanging baskets around the town in a months time.”
“We will certainly continue to ensure that we keep the town looking the best we can.”
Chair Marian McDonald says the Moville Tidy Towns group is “disappointed in one way” that the competition has gone, but volunteers are also relieved because they hadn’t been able to keep up with their work anyway, with many still ‘cocooned’.
“I haven’t been outside the front door myself because I’m over 21!” smiles Marian.
“And a lot of our committee haven’t been able to get out either to maintain the work we had been doing. All our weekly cleanups and everything else all stopped in March due to the virus.”
“We managed to get our planters done in the Square and the committee members that can be out have been watering those.”
Marian says the Moville TT group is “very dedicated” and members are all raring to go again, despite the absence of a formal 2020 competition.
“As soon as these restrictions are eased we’ll all be back out the next day. Hopefully this will be over soon and we’ll be allowed back out to carry on.”
John McLaughlin, of the Malin Tidy Towns group, says the village has a proud history and volunteers there will continue, insofar as they can, to ensure that it “looks up to scratch” even though they aren’t fighting for actual competition points this year.
“Malin has been up at the top in this area for more than fifty years and we’ll still do our work, whenever we can.”
“We knew the contest would be cancelled but everyone will still pull together to make sure Malin is looking up to scratch.”