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50 Years of Tidy Towns in Emyvale

On Sunday, October 22nd 2017 Emyvale Tidy Towns Committee celebrated the 50 Years of Tidy Towns in Emyvale. A full record of the work and results of the village in the competition over the years was put together and on display as were many photos of activity during that 50 year span. Many of those photos were taken by me and recalled so many great Emyvale people who had given exceptional service to the village in many ways but also as members of the Tidy Towns or as just good citizens who liked to see the place clean and tidy. Murphy Video Services also showed a number of their archive coverage of Tidy Towns activity, which are real gems of history now and recall many aspects of life in Emyvale, which are forgotten or never realised. There was a good turn-out of people but it is a pity so many more were not there to see and look at our past and perhaps discover why we should all be involved in keeping our environment clean and tidy and in good shape for future generations. If you live here, you make life better for yourself and all around you by taking a bit of pride in where we live. It does'nt take a great effort to do so as 'many hands make light work'.
The celebration was a big success and brought back many memories to many and reminded us of the many, some of whom have passed to their eternal reward, who served the area so well and showed great 'Pride of Place'. The present committee must be congratulated for the work they have done in recent years to revive the spirit of the competition in the area and for gaining increased marks in this year's National competition. Below I have my own review of the Adjudicator's Report. However, well done to all involved in the 50th Celebrations on Sunday in the Leisure Centre.

My Review of the 2017 Emyvale Tidy Towns Report

In its opening paragraph of the Adjudicator’s report there is praise for the Committee and the work it is doing and the plans for the future. When the adjudicator refers to the ‘few short years’ it has been active I presume it is referring to the new Committee and not the Emyvale involvement in Tidy Towns. Going back 50 years there was a huge input from locals and the competition centred mainly on appearance of the area and the community involvement. Now many new aspects have been added to the requirements, which should mean a new Title for the competition other than just ‘Tidy’.

Like so many other aspects of Irish life the Government continues to get, what they should be doing, done by volunteers. Volunteer Gardai; so many volunteer organisations in the health sector, without which thousands more would die weekly, as every illness has at least one volunteer support group; Group Water Schemes; volunteers in schools, volunteers for Pride of Place and like competitions; volunteers in sporting organisations etc etc. and then there is a competition for the best volunteer. In many cases there are a number of groups trying to do the same thing and this, like the recent budget, spreads the available public donations thinly among them all so that none of them can be as effective as they could be if better resourced. However it must be said that the personal satisfaction and non-physical rewards that come from volunteering for a good cause are great for soul and body but it would be better still if Government supported the work of volunteers with financial input rather than having to depend on donations, sponsorship and fund-raising from a pot already bled dry.

But getting back to Tidy Towns – in the beginning it was local volunteers supported by County Council. Then along came FÁS and the volunteers sat back and said – why should we do the work for free when the FÁS workers are getting paid to do that. It did put a limit to the amount of local input and did impact on community spirit. Added to that is the modern movement of peoples, especially from rural areas to the urban areas. In many urban areas neighbours never get to know neighbours and certainly never get involved in local community activity – it is a ‘mind my own business’ attitude. When one is not born and reared in a specific area they find it difficult to have an interest in the development and sustainability of the area and have little sense of ‘pride of place’, unless it effects them personally. Then add to that the independence of modern living where it is ‘every man for himself’. Thankfully County Monaghan and North Monaghan in particular has not been invaded by these sentiments. There is still a strong community spirit as comes very much alive in times of trouble when the community comes out in support and to assist but there is also a little too much of ‘let someone else do it’ when it comes to looking after our environment and surroundings.

Re. streetscape there is criticism of blacking out of windows and advertising posters. It was unfortunate that at the time of the adjudication an event being held elsewhere had posters glued/tied to most lampposts on Main Street. The removal of Christmas Decorations might be an acceptable criticism though again volunteers are needed to put these up and down each year. Regarding a Heritage Trail – Emyvale Development Association produced a Heritage Tour back in 1998 and it included Main Street as part of a much wider trail. That tour still exists and during the past couple of months I have personally taken at least 18 visitors on that tour, some of which can be seen elsewhere on

On Landscape and Open Spaces the adjudicator suggested more trees on Main Street. Emyvale Development Association(EDA) and Monaghan County Council went into this in depth a few years ago and got many expert opinions and it was not a feasible suggestion. Main Street is part of a National Primary Route with a huge traffic flow and Emyvale requires more parking and not less as would happen if trees were planted along the narrow footpaths. Trees on Main Street would also attract ‘swingers’ and ‘branch breakers’ and trees would have to be replaced on a regular basis. As well the Autumn, which is a dirty time of the year with rotting leaves choking drains and making paths slippery and making a mess generally would not be an enhancement to Tidy Towns.

The adjudicator’s praise of the Emy Lough walkway was well deserved but I cannot agree with his suggestion for smaller pots at the top of the town. Less cutting of the grass along the riverbank is suggested but I wonder how tidy this area would appear if it were allowed to grow wild. However his/her praise for the efforts at improving and maintaining good water quality was earned and deserved by the work of Enda Fields and Co. Being realistic one must ask why can the Spring Clean-ups turn up such a volume of ‘rubbish’ and ‘waste’ each year. It is obvious that there are a lot of people not caring about the environment or water quality when they dump such rubbish in the feeder river for our water source on an on-going basis. He/she asked if Corracrin School was involved in the Green Flag initiative and I would ask if they visited the school to see the Green Flag flying?

Overhead wires have always been a bug-bear for Emyvale in the Tidy Towns and this is beyond the control of Monaghan Co Co or the local committee. Other statuary bodies have the final say and must pay for whatever is done. As many as was possible were put underground in recent years but it would be nice to see all gone from overhead.  Main Street is, as I have said, a Primary Route and has massive traffic flows daily. This causes numerous and very difficult problems for the committee but it is obvious that the areas off Main Street in the various housing estates are being maintained in an excellent manner and that this could be replicated on Main Street were it not such a busy road.

Regarding the approach roads the report stated -  ‘You are commended in your efforts to curtail cheap advertising signage as this degrades the shared public space’. Indeed roadside advertising was a reason for us losing marks last year and it was heartening that they noticed the change this year. I would hope that the roadside would remain free all year round as it is a distraction for drivers especially when placed near corners and usually contains so much information in small print that one cannot read it anyway but it does make you take your eyes and concentration from the road ahead. The report also recommends the installation of Traffic Ramps on Main Street. I am not so sure that those living on Main Street would appreciate Ramps and the traffic noise of large lorries going over the ramps at all hours of day and night would be hard to listen to and sleep through. Indeed at the moment the traffic crossing manhole covers on Main Street, which are sunken below the tarmac, make sufficient noise to cause annoyance.  As well the TII would not be in favour of Ramps on a Primary Route. I was unaware that the Tidy Towns adjudicators took safety into consideration but the best way to slow traffic is to have regular check-points or speed checks on the street and the message would soon get out.   

I was a little disappointed with the Report and especially the fact that there were no ‘Conclusions’ or general overview.