Dublin's coastal villages get praise from Tidy Towns
Dublin communities have been commended for their work at the Tidy Towns Awards ceremony.
The seaside town of Skerries scooped both a gold medal and the Midlands and East Regional award, worth €2,000.
Malahide also took home a gold medal award of €900 for their efforts to keep their area clean, while Dalkey's local association claimed a silver medal award of €700.
Raheny and Lusk also received bronze medals and €400 at this year's ceremony, along with the southside towns of Cabinteely and Shankill.
Overall winner of the illustrious contest was Letterkenny, claiming both the title of Ireland's Tidiest Town and Ireland's Tidiest Urban Centre for 2015. It is the first time that the community has scooped the national prize.
Maeve McGann, treasurer of Skerries Tidy Towns Committee, said they had a core committee of 10 people, but encouraged others to get involved through volunteering.
She added that winning national awards doesn't make keeping the area clean any less challenging.
"We were only two marks behind Letterkenny - trying to get those couple of marks is so difficult," she told the Herald.
However, she said the Tidy Towns initiative made Skerries "a very attractive place to live".
"I think it makes people want to live in the town," she said.
The national Tidy Towns initiative was first launched in 1958, but interest in the competition has grown steadily in recent years. Just 52 towns entered when it first began, but there are now around 800 participants.
The awards, sponsored by SuperValu, also recognised hundreds of towns throughout the country which did their bit to keep their streets tidy in 2015.
Several committee members around Ireland were also given the title of "heroes" for their volunteer work. Heidi Bedell, secretary of Malahide Tidy Towns, said she was "delighted" with her group's gold medal win.
However, she added that there was little time for celebrating.
"We have got a meeting tomorrow," she said. "We need to discuss how we did, what we feel about it and what our weak areas are."
Ms Bedell said that the addition of Tidy Towns created a more interactive atmosphere in Malahide.
"There are people who don't have children or don't want to get involved in clubs or societies that can still do their bit," she said. "It makes them feel part of the town."
Meanwhile, Lusk Tidy Towns won their first award in their 36-year history, a bronze medal.
"We are so excited," said Patricia Kelly, Lusk Tidy Towns secretary. "We are a very dedicated group."
Environment Minister Alan Kelly praised the work of Tidy Towns committees across the country.
"The enthusiasm of all those involved in the Tidy Towns effort results in the attractive, well cared-for towns and villages we see throughout the country," he said.