Portarlington’s Dirty Old Towns group were rewarded on the double in Carlow last Tuesday, September 18, for their restoration of the Barrow riverside walk.
The committee who cleaned up and landscaped the walk, cleaned up again at the Barrow Awards in The Seven Oaks, taking the €250 award for Best in Laois, and €500 for second place in the Overall Award.
The scheme rewards communities in towns and villages along the River Barrow who have maintained and enhanced their natural resource. Judges paid particular tribute to the Port committee’s use of indigeneous planting.
“Their work along the river bank included the construction of a tar and chip surfaced walkway by the river incorporating a timber pergola. They also planted trees and new hedging comprising entirely of native Irish species,” the judges said.
Six of the DOT committee travelled to Carlow on the night in hopes of an award, including Margaret Guijt Lalors.
“We were absolutely delighted, blown away. I think what won it for us was when the judges first visited, we had a certain amount of work done, The second time, there was a massive improvement. The prize wans’t about fancy flowerbeds, it was about keeping nature very much in mind, and rewarding the community for getting behind the work, and taking pride in our river,” she said.
The committee formed last year to galvanise volunteers to rejuvenate Portarlington last year, as part of RTE’s Dirty Old Towns programme, fronted by TV celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin. The riverside walk was one of the major projects they undertook.
They plan to invest their winnings in ongoing projects.
“We plan to take the walk further each side, this was a great boost,” she said, thanking Orla Mulligan from Laois Partnership for suggesting they enter the Barrow Awards.
They are focusing on the town’s roundabouts too, working with the local authorities to install a bog wood sculpture on the Edenderry road roundabout, and a clock, sponsored by Odlums, at the roundabout near the train station.
“People will soon be able to see if they are in time for the train,” smiled Margaret.
The DOT committee also got a positive mention in this year’s Tidy Towns awards, which saw the town jump a massive 14 points.
“That was great, it all adds up. The Tidy Towns volunteers did massive work, consistantly working as a great team, from both sides of Portarlington, it’s a great thing,” said Margaret.
The Barrow Awards are run in conjunction with local authorities in Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois and Wexford, Waterways Ireland and the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. Entries were received from thirteen groups stretching the entire length of the river down to New Ross.