Tidy Towns Competition 2019

Adjudication Report

Centre: Macroom - Maigh Chromtha Ref: 183
County: Cork(South) Mark: 330
Category: D Date(s): 15/07/2019 

  Maximum Mark Mark Awarded 2018 Mark Awarded 2019

Community – Your Planning and Involvement




Streetscape & Public Places




Green Spaces and Landscaping




Nature and Biodiversity in your Locality




Sustainability – Doing more with less




Tidiness and Litter Control




Residential Streets & Housing Areas




Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes









Community – Your Planning and Involvement / An Pobal - Pleanáil agus Rannpháirtíocht:
Cuireann an moltóir seo fáilte roimh Macroom – Maigh Chromtha páirt a ghlacadh i gComórtas Náisiúnta SuperValu na mBailte Slachtmhara 2019. Macroom is very welcome to the 2019 Tidy Towns Competition. Thank you for your entry form and especially for your very helpful ‘adjudicator-friendly’ map with locations for projects clearly marked and referenced in your form.

We note you have 5 officers on your committee and a working group of around 20 volunteers whose efforts are assisted by workers under FAS, TUS and RSS schemes along with your local Mens’ Shed and residents associations. You have a good working relationship with Cork County Council with whom you meet annually to review your 3-year plan to ensure that both of your work programmes are aligned and complimentary for the overall benefit of the town. It is great to read of your active engagement with the local schools and that you have facilitated young people working for the Gaisce President’s Award to fulfil their community tasks. This is an excellent means of fostering continuity of commitment to Tidy Towns and we also commend the local Foróige group for their recent fundraising in support of your activities.

You have a very active and excellent Facebook presence which you use well to seek support and showcase your work and achievements and credit is due to the person or persons who have the responsibility for its upkeep. Your adjudicator was in town on a Saturday morning when volunteers sporting their bright orange jackets were very busy about their work exuding great energy, enthusiasm and camaraderie. Your very visible presence was generating a lively buzz around the town and we applaud the great work you are doing on behalf of your wider community.

Streetscape & Public Places / Sráid-Dreach & Áiteanna Poiblí:
You mention in your entry form that around 20 business took up the opportunity of funding under Cork County Council’s painting scheme and have invested in upgrading their shop fronts and premises in the past year which has significantly contributed to the improved streetscape in Macroom. There remains a number of premises which currently detract from the streetscape and require further work. This is always a challenge for your Committee when you are trying to encourage all property owners to support your vision for the town - but keep up your good work.
We admired the very vibrant frontages of a cluster of adjoining premises on the corner of Main Street and Fitzgerald Street including Fitzgerald’s Bookshop, Indiana Restaurant, Connections, Fitzy’s Chip Shop, Wonderful Wool and Enchanted Flowers. We also admired good standards of presentation at TP Cotter’s, Macroom Credit Union and the unique frontage of Dineen’s Bar on Main Street. Vacant, derelict and neglected buildings are an issue throughout the town that detracts from the streetscape and you are aware of this but it is good to hear that progress is being made and that several vacant buildings have been renovated and reoccupied over the past year. In its highly visible location opposite the main bus stop, the dilapidated appearance of the old Macroom Mills creates a poor impression of the town as a first point of arrival for those incoming to the town by bus. The frame on the map of the town centre beside the bus stop needs repainting and a nearby bin was quite dirty and needed cleaning. St. Colman’s Catholic Church and its grounds looked well while the old garage forecourt opposite Oakwood estate needed a tidy up and some attention to weed growth. Well done on painting up the gate and railings of the old Church of Ireland on Castle Street which freshens up its frontage and we commend the owners of the adjoining Church Lane Restaurant for setting a very high standard of presentation for others to follow. The central area of the town around the entrance to the Castle Demesne and the Town Hall is also presented to a very high standard with very clean pavements, cobbles and stonework highlighted with attractive floral displays. The ‘Macroom Lee Valley’ heritage sign to one side of the Demesne entrance is a little faded and the sign information needs renewal. The various murals which are becoming a unique feature of the town are wonderful and we applaud the talent of the artists involved – the ‘Hooded Cloak’ mural at the entrance to the town park is hauntingly beautiful and we also enjoyed the new pastoral scene on the wall in the car park near Dunnes Stores and the mural depicting the last train leaving Macroom. Some attention was needed to weed growth at the base of this mural and two traffic cones which appeared to have no particular function were creating visual clutter and needed to be removed. Maintenance of most street furniture including seats, bollards, signs, bins and the cannons at the entrance to the Demesne was generally good but we would encourage you to carry out an audit of all street furniture in advance of next year’s competition and to implement a programme of repainting, cleaning and washing as necessary.

Green Spaces and Landscaping / Spásanna Glasa agus Tírdhreachú:
The Castle Demesne and Town Park are both very valuable and attractive amenity and recreational areas within your community and on the day of adjudication it was great to see all ages enjoying the park run event. We admired the new roses which add a lovely welcoming splash of colour at the New Street entrance to the Town Park and commend recent installation of a further piece of outdoor gym equipment. In general, the Town Park is very well presented, and we suggest a little housekeeping here and there would further enhance its overall appearance, such as removing tree stakes and ties that are no longer required, cleaning and washing life buoys, bins and older pieces of outdoor gym equipment and refreshing paintwork on signage, handrails of bridges etc. We were delighted to hear about the ongoing project to replant native hardwoods to restore the old woodland area in the vicinity of the Golf Club House.

Thank you for including the leaflet on the new ‘Tiny Feet Fairy Garden’ with your entry submission and well done to all involved for creating a wonderfully happy and colourful place for both children and adults to explore and discover. The attention to detail in the artwork and the various creative features and innumerable fairy doors is excellent and the woodland setting makes for a truly charming and magical experience. Just one thing - do keep in mind that nailing anything into a tree is intrusive and that every wound creates a potential entry point for decay, so keep breaches of the trees protective outer layers to a minimum and consider alternative means of attaching any further elements of the fairy trail. We also noted bags of materials etc. deposited at various points around the perimeter and these should be removed or consolidated into one location so that they do not detract from the overall appearance. We commend the incorporation of a biodiversity area into the Fairy Garden area and favourably noted the planting of fruit trees and bushes as well as the laminated information panels on trees and pollinators. We recognise that considerable work has been put into preparing and laminating these panels along with many similarly made signs naming trees and climbers etc. at other recently planted locations around the town and wondered if there is a business interest in the locality who might sponsor or assist with developing more permanent signage solutions for these locations.

We approached the Fairy Garden along the riverside walk from the bridge at Castle Street and we were delighted to note that 250 new native tree saplings have been planted alongside the river as well as a mix of wildlife-friendly shrubs and recycled buddleja bushes for butterflies. The maintenance of a tidily mown outer edge to your ‘no-mow’ and meadow strips along the walkway is a very effective way of communicating that the wildness is deliberate. The new wildflower area at the bridge is establishing well and we suggest installation of a small sign here to explain the benefits of wildlfowers and your no-mow maintenance regime to ensure that passers-by understand and appreciate your very positive actions. We commend your work in planting and labelling 100 climbing plants to dress up the fence between the Mart and NCT centre – some of the plants were struggling with the competition from other growth around them - we suggest maintaining a clear ring of space around them to aid their establishment. We note your ongoing development of plans for a new sensory garden and we look forward to hearing more next year of your progress in bringing this very worthwhile project to fruition.

Your work in planting and maintaining 68 hanging baskets is a huge task that brings great seasonal colour to the town’s streetscape along with several nicely planted and well-maintained pockets of flower beds and shrubs beds throughout the town. We particularly admired your unusual choice of using nasturtiums in the hanging baskets which have lovely vibrant colouring and their flowers are excellent food sources for pollinators.

Nature and Biodiversity in your Locality / An Dúlra agus an Bhithéagsúlacht i do cheantar:
Macroom is rich in wildlife habitats and natural amenities with the Sullane River and its riverside setting forming an integral part of the townscape and readily accessed through the Castle Demesne, the Town Park and the riverside walk to the Fairy Garden area. The proximity of the ‘Gearagh’ biodiversity area is of enormous significance in the locality. It is also important that people recognise and support the valuable habitats in their immediate surroundings such as in old walls, trees, woodlands, grassed areas, planted areas and hedgerows. This category aims to promote awareness and encourage people to engage with and celebrate the natural heritage on their doorstep. We commend your involvement in installing bat boxes and the activities of the Men’s Shed in making bird boxes for distribution around the area – we wondered if you have been monitoring usage of the bird and bat boxes or if any wildlife surveys have been carried out and would be interested in hearing some further comment on your observations of occupancy etc. in next year’s entry. Well done on organising an awareness raising talk on biodiversity earlier this year and it is great to hear that guided walks on environmental themes take place in the Castle Demesne. We note that a number of your activities under the ‘Landscaping’ category such as tree planting, maintenance of no-mow and biodiversity meadow areas, and development of wildflower areas are all very compatible with the ideals of this category also. A sign featuring ‘Common Species of Wildlife’ found along the riverside was noted in the Castle Demesne needing cleaning and a little freshening up.

Sustainability – Doing more with less / Inmharthanacht - Mórán ar an mbeagán:
We commend your range of waste reduction initiatives including reducing paper usage for communication, promotion of local second hand and repair shops, support for the local market and businesses selling local produced food and your local bakery making waste bread available for animal feed. These activities demonstrate that people in your community have a good appreciation for the ideals of this category. We also favourably noted the e-car charging point in the car park at Dunnes Stores. There is more that can be done and at this level of the contest and to continue to gain further marks in this category, the adjudicator is looking for innovation in tackling the big issues of water conservation, food waste, plastic disposal and efficiencies in transport and energy use. What are homes and businesses in your area doing to tackle these issues? To generate ideas that contribute to a more sustainable environment and for helpful tips and case studies from other Tidy Towns entrants please take a look at https://localprevention.ie/tidy-towns/ and other websites such as https://stopfoodwaste.ie and https://www.greenhome.ie.

Collaborating closely with the many local schools involved in the Green Schools programme and adopting some of their excellent practices for communication and replication across the wider community would also be hugely beneficial to your Tidy Towns activity under this category. We applaud the wealth of good work and wide range of environmentally responsible awareness raising activities that are being carried out in the schools and thank you for the detailed Green Flag updates within your entry form from St. Joseph’s Girls Primary School, St. Colman’s National School, De La Salle Boys Secondary School, McEgan College and St. Mary’s Girls Secondary School.
Our heartiest congratulations to the teachers, students and parents in all of the schools on their Green Flag achievements and we wish De La Salle Boys Secondary School every success as they work towards their first Green Flag.

Tidiness and Litter Control / Slachtmhaireacht agus Rialú Bruscair:
The general level of tidiness and the control of weeds and litter in Macroom is impressive given the extraordinary length of the main thoroughfare through the town and the high numbers of passing vehicles. The vast majority of areas visited were largely litter free on the day of adjudication. Cigarette butts were an issue in some side lanes off the Main Street. Your regular litter picks and clean-ups along with your participation in the Cork County Council Anti-Litter Challenge and KWD West Cork County Cleanup are obviously effective and it would seem that you have good support from the community in dealing responsibly with litter. Congratulations on your well-deserved award success in the 2018 Anti-Litter Challenge. We commend the sponsors who enabled your purchase of a street sweeper and note that the Council also assist with periodic mechanical road sweeping. Mutt mitt dispensers were spotted in a couple of locations ensuring that no one has an excuse not to clean up after their dog and dog fouling was not a noticeable issue on adjudication day. Well done on your continuing progress with upgrading litter bins in the town – there were a few we spotted that we hope are soon for replacement – opposite the library, outside the church on Chapel Lane and at the pedestrian crossing on the corner of Masseytown Road across from O’Riada’s. The nearby wall-insert post box at Masseytown Road also needs freshening up. A redundant pole outside Fitzgerald’s Book Shop should be removed and a no-parking sign on the corner of Chapel Lane needed cleaning
and repainting of its rusty pole. Some temporary signs observed in the town centre area advertising promotions and commercial interests create visual clutter and detract from the amenity of their surroundings.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas / Sráideanna Cónaithe & Ceantair Tithíochta:
We visited a sample of the 24 residential estates in the town which made a generally good impression. Grassed areas in Ard na Gréine were neatly maintained with some nice maturing trees. Shrubberies needed a bit of grooming to remove brambles and other weed growth. We admired some nice landscaping at the entrance to O’Connor Park. Planting in boxes fixed to the brown concrete railing here could be further enhanced with some additional plants to make fuller displays. Fairfield Drive was well maintained and perhaps a finer finish might be achieved by trimming long grass from around signs and trees and along fence lines. In Meadowlands, some attention was required to remove noticeable weed growth along kerb lines. Well done on the entrance upgrade at Oakwood estate which has smartened up the appearance of the road frontage although we generally suggest using containers only where planting directly into the ground is not possible. Planting into the ground reduces maintenance and requirements for watering and increases the long- term viability of the planting. St. Colman’s Park and Castle Court were neat and tidy but there was heavy reliance on the use of herbicide to control grass growth along kerb edges and around trees and lamp standards. We strongly advocate minimising this practice as it is bad for the environment and the scorched and dead vegetation is unsightly. While it is more time consuming, hoeing, using a spade to create neat edges and manual removal of weed growth is preferable. By contrast, grass areas in The Lawn off Masseytown Road had perfectly neat edges which appeared to be achieved manually. Accumulations of dried up grass clippings needed to be swept up from along the kerbside on the main access road into this estate. Throughout the town, we would generally encourage more property owners to support your Tidy Towns work by increasing attention to the presentation of their property frontages. Some residential properties along the entrance to the town on Cork Street and along Neville’s Terrace on Masseytown Road need to refresh and maintain their roadside frontages and boundary walls where they have become weather stained. In this competition, it is important that property owners help out by maintaining their front façades, gable ends and roadside boundaries. We applaud all the many individual property owners and occupiers within the town centre, on the approach roads and in the residential estates who clearly take pride in their place and keep their road frontages, gardens and boundary walls well-presented and neatly maintained.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes / Bóithre Isteach, Sráideanna & Lánaí:
The approach roads generally look well with carefully tended grass margins where present and mostly litter free roadsides. Within the town, some road markings need refreshing eg yellow box at junction of New Street with Masseytown Road. We noted use of herbicide between the trees and shrubs on Bowl Road and would suggest increasing the density of shrubs and lower level planting and manual weed control to eliminate the need for herbicide use at this location.

Concluding Remarks:
Having been in Macroom briefly in the past or indeed only passing through on a few other occasions, it was a real pleasure to get to know the town a little better. The work of your Tidy Towns group is of central importance to the future fortunes of this town and we salute your commitment to developing and improving your town for businesses, residents, visitors and all those passing through. Well done on your achievements over the last year and we wish you continued success into the future.