There’s another important point to be made about TidyTowns, apart of course from congratulating Kilkenny City yet again on winning the 2014 competition. Back in the 1950s, when TidyTowns started, Ireland had a population of around 2.8 million. In 2014 it’s 4.6 million. More telling than that growth, however, is the growth of paved roads, car ownership, shops (including those owned by sponsor SuperValu), mobility of all sorts and the general sprawl of modern living. The concept of ‘local’ has changed completely as people come and go all the time on cheap flights or car ferries (in the 1950s leaving and coming back was quite an undertaking).
Or to put it another way, we are thrilled that TidyTowns still means so much to Ireland and the Irish in a modern, fast-moving technologically advanced world. Our thanks, therefore, to everyone everywhere who gets involved.
In fact you could say that this is one occasion where – with due deference to Kilkenny – it really isn’t just the winning but the taking part that counts. What Martin Kelleher, Managing Director of sponsor SuperValu, called “the outstanding demonstration of community spirit shown by all volunteers” probably makes an even greater difference in the Ireland of the 21st century than it did in 1958 – just how much of a difference you can read at www.tidytowns.ie where there’s a history of the competition.
It’s also enormously encouraging, in today’s busy, complicated and demanding world that interest in the SuperValu TidyTowns competition has been consistently high in recent times with the number of entries exceeding 800 each year for the last four years. The community spirit that inspired TidyTowns is clearly still going strong nearly 60 years later.