The National TidyTowns 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. 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 well known and popular local environmental initiative.
Right 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 competition aspect was an important element in developing friendly rivalry that would help boost standards across the board. and the winner of the first competition held in 1958 was Glenties, Co Donegal pictured above. However, the emphasis was always on participating rather than winning as the very act of taking part brought benefits to the community. And with a focus on long-term results rather than quick returns, TidyTowns was soon seen as a unique and far-sighted initiative.
Although just 52 towns entered in its first year, TidyTowns rapidly increased in popularity with an average of 700 entrants per year. Its success also spawned many other initiatives at national, county and local level, which further boosted its reputation and impact. It is impossible to accurately estimate the number of people who have had some involvement in TidyTowns, but its safe to say it has run into the hundreds of thousands, and its influence on the transformation of Ireland's landscape is undeniable.
Following the restructuring of Bord Fáilte in 1995, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government assumed responsibility for TidyTowns and now organises the initiative with the support of national sponsor SuperValu and a number of other agencies. Its success continues, and while it has moved with the times, it still retains the same core principle of its founders - "make your place a better place."
The National SuperValu TidyTowns Competition is an annual competition organised by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government with the support of the main sponsor SuperValu and many other agencies.
The competition involves participating areas being rated on all aspects of their local environment and prizes awarded to the best under many different categories. The overall winner is "Ireland's Tidiest Town". which is announced at a national ceremony in September each year.
With progress monitored and detailed feedback provided year on year, most participants initially enter the competition to generate interest about the environment in their community and create a solid platform on which to raise issues with the relevant authorities. Over time, the areas attain a standard where competing for major prizes is within reach. As such it is very much a development programme as much as a competition.
Community Skills/Interest Audit
You may not wish to formally join a committee but would you be willing to pledge a few hours per year to help your Tidy Towns group. If you think you can help, even in a very small way, please complete the following Community Skills Audit Pledge