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Community effort finally pays off for determined locals
SHEILA Smith epitomises the approach that has seen Castletown capture the prestigious All-Ireland Tidy Towns competition.

The 87-year-old personally tends a garden in the middle of the village that would take the sight out of your eye.

"She's so good and determined, she'd make flowers grow in the middle of the street," comments neighbour Josie Coss, a member of the Tidy Towns committee, in the sun-drenched and delighted village yesterday.

As thousands of disappointed Clare supporters made their way home on the main Limerick road beside the Laois village, local people commented that they too know of disappointment in relation to winning an All-Ireland.

They really thought they would win the trophy last year, having taken the Tidiest Town North and South event earlier that year, but unfortunately that wasn't to be.

However, having been so close for several years made success yesterday all the sweeter for the residents of this very pleasant, friendly and obviously very, very tidy village.

They are on a bit of a roll, it has to be said, with their senior hurling team in the county final on Sunday.

Also enjoying her luck in the local Kealy' shop was Brigid Bernie, a Kilkenny woman living just outside the village, who was still dressed in the black and amber after the All-Ireland and now had a clear excuse for a second celebration.

Although Castletown was its usual rustic quiet self early in on a weekday afternoon, its inhabitants were absolutely delighted with the Tidy Towns win and it was a great boost for a whole county that has been doing a good deal of quiet promotional work for some time.

Said local school principal, Monica Kennedy Phelan: "The Tidy Towns people have been trying so hard for the last 10 years so we are thrilled. It's a great honour and it's excellent for the county to win a national title.

"There's great pride in the village. It's easy to teach here because the children have things such as tidiness ingrained in them. From the youngest to the eldest they are conscious of litter. It's a daily effort and the Tidy Towns work at it the whole year around - not just for the season," she added.

Added Muriel Wall-Coughlan of the Tidy Towns committee: "We were disappointed last year but decided to continue to make it a lovely place for the people who live here and if we won it was to be a bonus.

"We did a few extra features in the village this year and we think they made the difference for us."

In their citation, the judges praised the Castletown committee's litter control programme which, it said, was "clearly working exceptionally well".

"Castletown has again produced an outstanding performance in the competition. The standard of presentation within the village and at the wildlife amenity, castle, and corn mill is of the highest order."

"As this adjudicator was leaving the village the road along by the bridge opposite the mill was being swept. Attention to detail is phenomenal." Despite the wet summer the standard of grass cutting was overwhelming with the village green and its chestnut trees described as "magnificent".

"Your updated Management and Development Plan is a commendable document and has clearly won the support of the community," the report added.

Gold medals for their efforts went to Keadue, Co Roscommon; Rathbarry, Co Cork; Newtowncashel, Co Longford; Castletown, Co Laois; Lismore, Co Waterford; Kenmare, Co Kerry; Clonakilty, Co Cork; Westport, Co Mayo; Killarney, Co Kerry, and Ennis, Co Clare.

Click here for Longford 2002 rankings
Read about Tidy Towns Competition
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