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Tidy Towns reports

2023 Adjudication report

 

                     Centre:     Cratloe - An Chreatlach                          Ref:     2059

                     County:     Clare                                                               Mark:     253

                     Category:     B                                                                  Date(s):     14/06/2023

                                                        Max 2022  2023

Community - Your Planning      80   34   36

Streetscapes & Public places  80   34   36

Green Spaces & Landscaping 80   32   34

Nature and Biodiversity              55   30   33

Sustainability                                   55   15   18

Tidiness and Litter Control         90   52   54

Residential streets& housing    55   28   29

Approach Roads & Streets        55   28   29

Total Mark                                      550  253 270

Community – Your Planning and Involvement / An Pobal - Pleanáil agus Rannpháirtíocht:

Welcome to the 2023 SuperValu TidyTowns competition. Thank you for your completed application form which included photos. You also forwarded a map, the Green School Plan 2022, and your 3 Year Plan 2021-2023. Hopefully most of these Actions have been completed and you are now preparing your new plan.  We recommend putting a date on Actions as this will help focus your work programme. If any of the Actions in the existing plan are unfinished then put them into your new plan ….. sometimes projects take longer than we think.

You are a small, but we see active, committee of 5 and have enlisted 12 volunteers who seem to regularly help you from the photos in your form. You list state and semi-state organisations and agencies, business, community groups and individuals who support your work financially or with advice and help.  You are active on social media with a Facebook Page with over 980 followers, an Instagram account and a website.  You also use the more traditional methods for those not on social media – a newsletter, parish bulletins and local newspapers. Welcome again, your third year, to the Supervalu TidyTowns competition which has resulted in the improvement of the visual presentation of the village due to the projects undertaken for the competition.  It has also led to a great sense of togetherness, pride and community spirit, which we are delighted to hear.  Also well done on referencing the SDGs in your application form.

Please see Concluding Remarks for advice on filling out the Application Form and producing the map.

Streetscape & Public Places / Sráid-Dreach & Áiteanna Poiblí:

Your neat, tidy village gives a very good first impression to the visitor.  We admired the beautiful sited, barn style, St John’s RC church, with its freshly painted pebbledash walls, landscaped grounds and wrought-iron side gates.  We loved the timber interiors of this church which are quite unusual.  We walked up the steep hill to the grotto and stayed for a while admiring the stunning view over the surrounding countryside and Shannon estuary.  The freshly painted white statues etc stand out well in the lush green surrounding landscape. Well done on your success in the Towns and Village Paint scheme – the results were evident in various locations around the village. Like many rural villages in Ireland, you have dereliction which detracts from the streetscape and we see that you are trying to resolve this problem. We note the renovation of the business premises and see that The Good Egg café has added to the social life of the village.  In your 3-year plan you state ‘Awareness of the built and natural heritage of an area adds greatly to the residents’ sense of belonging and overall appreciation for their surroundings’. We agree.  Craughan graveyard is well maintained and we liked the water source just inside the gates. The portal tomb at the entrance (Ballinaphunta Dolmen), is very apt but remove the sign in front of it.  Also remove the signs from the gates and put them on the wall (not piers) beside the gates if you feel they’re needed. The signs are obtrusive and clutter the entrance. We loved the community playground in the recreational area aimed at various ages.  The Meelick-Cratloe-Parteen plaque in the school grounds was noticed - a history lesson for the pupils.

Green Spaces and Landscaping / Spásanna Glasa agus Tírdhreachú:

Cratloe is fortunate to have a wealth of trees and hedgerows all around the village.  That is very important because trees are long lasting and provide the main structure of the landscape. Items mentioned in your application include maintaining the parish field in the village and this you do very well, although we suggest that you change the mowing regime along the edges to allow more wildflowers to develop.  We admired the row of Sorbus Aria at the church carpark defining the roadway from the parking bays. The work undertaken along the wall at the Community Hall is impressive.  You have included photos of various beds and planting areas around the village which you maintain with spring and summer flowers – all looked lovely. The poppies, purple geraniums, lady’s mantle, anthuriums etc were in full bloom when we visited. We noted that you trim a narrow margin along some green areas This roadside frontage is a great example of how to effectively present a semi-wild habitat with its narrow strip of tidily mown grass along the outer edge to show that the wilderness behind is deliberate.  The Fatima oaks were noted – trim a little around them to give them some space? There are some fine majestic trees in Cratloe – perhaps identify them and put a discrete sign beside them with their name to inform those passing by. In time a looped walk with the trees identified could be developed. Congratulations on the sickle mower – you will now be able to tackle irregular banks and keep them well trimmed.

Nature and Biodiversity in your Locality / An Dúlra agus an Bhithéagsúlacht i do cheantar:

This past year you have been focusing your attention on developing the priority projects of your Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) which you launched September 28th 2022.  Management and control of invasive species being a priority. Congratulation on winning the Best Newcomer Award in the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan – Local Authority Pollinator Special Awards category in 2022.  We visited the Community Woodland / Cratloe Forest Recreational Area and spotted the miner bee habitat.  Is this still in use?  You were invited to advise on creating pollinator friendly planting on school grounds and you also advised on providing cavity nesting bees habitats.  We met David, the first-class teacher, who kindly showed us the work undertaken at the school – the green school noticeboard, the carved animals and birds, flower beds, the squirrels house, a water butt, and the new memorial. The tiled displays of little hand growing at the entrance to the school is quite beautiful. We look forward to the installation of the swift boxes.

Sustainability – Doing more with less / Inmharthanacht - Mórán ar an mbeagán:

Following the launch of the Cratloe Development Plan you set up a Sustainability committee who will implement Actions under this category. This is a very positive step and we wish them every success.  We are delighted to see that you are registered as a Sustainable Energy Community and that you have completed the initial survey – now the actions need to be undertaken.  Please tell us about this in next years application. The Actions in the Cratloe Green Schools under the six topics were noted – please commend the team who lead this with the pupils of the different classes.

You have produced two Ton bags of compost in your composting area beside the Parish Field since last year which you will use on new and existing beds. We trust the composting tutorial with the sixth class engaged the pupils and maybe encouraged them to create a composting area in their own homes.  Check if any of them did this?  We wonder how successful were people in identifying ‘How long does your rubbish last?’ in the table quiz.  When installing the water harvesting facility at the community centre make sure that it is suitable capacity for your needs and not just a domestic water butt.

Tidiness and Litter Control / Slachtmhaireacht agus Rialú Bruscair:

Like many community groups in Clare, you took part in National Spring Clean Day in April.  You undertake a twice-weekly litter pick up around the village and we read that you have designated ambassadors who take responsibility for areas or roads.  This is commendable and ensures that all areas are cleaned. Fly-tipping is a problem in most communities – all you can do is report it as soon as it’s spotted so that the area doesn’t develop as an acceptable place to leave rubbish.  Sometimes barriers/gates (if they can be installed) deter the culprits.  The wall bordering the school grounds was cleared of dead ivy by your volunteers in 2022.  The Woodpecker week is a great idea and evidently is very successful – well done.  We’re delighted to see that you have also surveyed signage and have recommended the removal of redundant /damaged signs. A survey of redundant /empty poles could also be carried out and ask Clare Co Co to have them removed.  We spotted some fly tipping at the sign in the recreational area which was a pity but we guess it was removed quickly.  The ivy around the curved seating area needs to be trimmed.  The raised bank near the Good Egg café had a considerable amount of weeds. Some ground cover plants would be the best to plant here.  While we appreciate that weed growth will be impossible to remove from the rock face along the paths to the grotto, we recommend that they are removed from where the rocks meet the concrete paths. Then it will appear the area is managed. The large chain and posts need painting. Remove the ivy which is encroaching on the stone walls around the grotto as while It is acceptable to have ivy on a block/rendered wall it is not acceptable on a stone wall as the roots penetrate the wall making it unstable.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas / Sráideanna Cónaithe & Ceantair Tithíochta:

Single and two storey traditional and modern houses are the mix in Cratloe. Houses are located on individual sites with neatly tended gardens with well-kept grass areas and flower beds full of colourful flowers. Some had specimen trees for a special effect while others had beautiful displays of neatly trimmed box hedging.  Many residents had freshly painted facades and boundary walls which presented well. We visited a few housing areas/estates – Gallow’s Hill Road, Asling Court, Wood Road, Cratloe Wood, Well Road, etc. We admired the semi-wild and yet, well maintained, entrance to Cratloe Wood. There are beautiful views across the Shannon from this estate. The communal green area of Aisling Court was well maintained and we admired the trees along the roadside boundary. 

The wide roadside margin could, we agree, be left to grow and a margin along the road cut to show that the area is managed and allowed to grow for biodiversity.  Have you a Best Kept Garden competition?  This is something that residents enjoy as its healthy competition.  The award (a certificate) to be presented at a social event where the press and local elected representatives are invited.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes / Bóithre Isteach, Sráideanna & Lánaí:

The entrance road from the north, with its great vista across the countryside, has neatly trimmed grass margins and we loved that the footpath extends beyond the 50km sign making it safe for pedestrians to access the village along this busy road. The name sign with two evergreen bushes and a small planting bed greets the visitor.  From the east we enter through woodland under a beautiful canopy of trees – trim back some branches so that the village name sign is seen. The pathway at the Good Egg café is in a very poor state of repair, as is a section of the boundary wall. These detract from the streetscape.  We noted some new paving in various locations around the village, with dipped kerbs and rumble strips.  Arrange to have the road crossing at these points a different surface to assist those crossing.  It would be good to see the large area to the right of the railway bridge being developed as a ‘gateway’ to the village – hopefully you will be successful.  We were delighted to read, and see, that roadside areas are being maintained with biodiversity in mind.

Concluding Remarks:

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to your village – our first.

In terms of your Tidy Town’s application form we request that applicants number their projects as, new projects (N), or improved/maintained projects (M) and all ‘future projects’ should only be included in your 3/5-Year Plan and NOT in the Application Form. You are to give each action/project a number as New (N1, N2, N3 etc.) or Maintained (M1, M2, M3 etc).  This same numbering system to be used to indicate the locations of these projects on a map – N1, N2, N3 etc and M1, M2, M3 etc.  We know that all new and maintained projects will not be transferred and that’s fine. The numbering system in your form and map is confusing e.g. you have an M15 and N15 but only show the location of one. Your map, while fine on a large screen of a computer, is quite indistinct when printed on an A4 page and so should be redrawn/upgraded so that the adjudicators can find the projects when they visit.  We liked that you included a north point, as this orientates us when we visit.  This is not a criticism of your work but to explain to you that as adjudicators we rely on a clear application form and accompanying map to inform us of your projects and make our visit rewarding.  

Thank you for entering the SuperValu Tidy Towns 2023 competition.

2022 Adjudication report

                     Centre:     Cratloe - An Chreatlach                          Ref:     2059

                     County:     Clare                                                               Mark:     253

                     Category:     B                                                                  Date(s):     26/06/2022

                                                      Max 2022  2023

Community - Your Planning      80   32   34

Streetscapes & Public places  80   32   34

Green Spaces & Landscaping 80   30   32

Nature and Biodiversity              55   27   30

Sustainability                                   55   12   15

Tidiness and Litter Control         90   50   52

Residential streets& housing    55   27   28

Approach Roads & Streets        55   27   28

Total Mark                                      550  237 253

   

Community – Your Planning and Involvement / An Pobal - Pleanáil agus Rannpháirtíocht:

Fáilte chuig Comórtas Na mBailte  Slachtmhara Super Valu don bhliain 2022. Táimid buíoch daoibh as ucht na hiontrála a chur chugainn, agus guimíd gach rath ar bhúr gcuid oibre amach anseo. Adh Mór. Cratloe is very welcome to the SuperValu National Tidy Towns Competition, thank you for this year’s submission with its enclosures of a helpful sketch map, Biodiversity Enhancement Plan, Tidy Towns Action Plan and Green Schools Action Plan all of which facilitated adjudication. The small committee of 5 has good community support and has linked in with a variety of bodies and agencies that offer practical support also. Well done for your participation in the Leader funded Biodiversity Training Programme and the creation of a biodiversity plan for the parish field and the area around the Grotto; we applaud future plans to extend this to incorporate the village and its environs. Your communication methods are effective in broadcasting the Tidy Towns message and engagement with the schools beneficial for all concerned. It is satisfying to note community benefits of participation in the competition.

Streetscape & Public Places / Sráid-Dreach & Áiteanna Poiblí:

Saint John’s Church is almost a ‘hidden’ feature of Cratloe but looks beautiful and appears to have been recently whitewashed or painted. The National School and the Community Hall premises are beautifully presented also particularly in relation to their grounds; the ‘nature’ sculptures carved in wood at the National School are appealing. The Woodcross Bar premises and adjoining Restaurant look well also. Congratulations on the construction of the outdoor public space adjacent to the Community Hall which facilitates outdoor events while maintaining social distance. New projects this year range from the refurbishment of an old building for a new business to acceptance into the Clare County Council Paint Scheme, the installation of a new pedestrian crossing at the school, the installation of new benches and the refurbishment of railings at the church and more! On-going maintenance at the Grotto, Graveyard and church is favourably acknowledged. the new Heritage Mapping Project is an exciting initiative

Green Spaces and Landscaping / Spásanna Glasa agus Tírdhreachú:

Colourful flower displays at many locations throughout Cratloe are an attractive feature and in particular at the road junction leading to St John’s Church. More planting might be featured on the stone plinth that accommodates the maturing trees within the car-park. Landscaping on the Green Road side area at the Community Hall and also on the raised stone bed in the small shopping area was admired also. Retaining walls to the inside of the car park of the Woodcross premises would benefit from cleaning painting or planting with a climbing plant. Landscaping for the green roadside areas across from the Woodcross Bar and Restaurant is recommended. There are many nicely maintained green areas within the village. Newly planted beds are a welcome addition especially when these are pollinator friendly and maintenance projects including those for native hedgerow and trees will ensure their survival into the future. It is good to note planting for ‘year round’ interest such as snow drop and daffodil.

Nature and Biodiversity in your Locality / An Dúlra agus an Bhithéagsúlacht i do cheantar:

Congratulations on the formation of the Cratloe Community Woodland Group and of course to those members of the Tidy Towns group that participated in the Biodiversity Training Programme. No doubt when habitats have been mapped and species identified wildlife information panels will be installed at various locations on the flora and fauna of the village woodland area and nature trails created; there are exciting time ahead for the community! The range of species noted to date from miner bees to trees, red squirrel, frogspawn, wildflowers and more is promising and that this initiative will involve the school children and the wider community is truly impressive. The Cratloe GAA premises and car park look well however more could be achieved for the path leading to the GAA entrance which looks underdeveloped.

Sustainability – Doing more with less / Inmharthanacht - Mórán ar an mbeagán:

It is wonderful that the Cratoe community aspire to and have taken so many steps towards being a sustainable community; we ‘take our hats off to you’! The Solar Farm initiative is exciting and we wish you success in your bid for this project. Also exciting is your application for funding for an Energy Master Plan and the energy Upgrade Home event was no doubt invaluable in promoting awareness and was a great success. The community is on the path to sustainable planting too with community composting, seed harvesting and although not noted water harvesting too. Travel is not neglected either with cycle lane / footpath for cycling to school and the reopening of the old railway station. There is plenty more to say but we will leave it there for now; the clothing bin at the Woodcross Bar and shops looked quite neglected, the recycling point located behind the E Setright premises was well presented

.

Tidiness and Litter Control / Slachtmhaireacht agus Rialú Bruscair:

Cratloe’s participation in the National Spring Clean is applauded especially when it involves vehicular generated litter picking along approach roads; we note the ‘fly-tipping’ problem also and can only admire the community for their patience and resilience. Well done to students from both schools for involvement. The Woodpicker Group, ‘Leave no Trace’ and Woodland Group initiatives are excellent as is chemical free weed control although some weedy stretches of kerb were noted. Liaison with business and property owners is commendable and the graveyard clean-up is noteworthy too although appropriate care needs to be taken in burial grounds.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas / Sráideanna Cónaithe & Ceantair Tithíochta:

The residents ‘Meitheal’ is a beautiful concept! All three small residential developments appear to enjoy a high standard of maintenance with residents maintaining community areas and helping the less able-bodied look after their premises. All dwellings noted looked well, a number of roadside boundary wall near the Community Hall could be refurbished and a few roadside areas to boundary walls improved.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes / Bóithre Isteach, Sráideanna & Lánaí:

Roadside areas and verges are being well managed for biodiversity and we note expert advice sought and taken. It is satisfying to have successful engagement with property owners / clubs regarding their premises / curtilage areas. A big ‘thank you’ is extended to volunteers who clear pathways and road of rubble and debris in addition to weeds by hand. Hedgerow management, grassed areas and road signs all enjoy good maintenance and nameplates look well with their display of wildflowers

Concluding Remarks:

Cratloe is deceptive at first encounter being a linear village along a busy thoroughfare with no strong core of buildings and shops it would be easy to pass through without really noticing; this would be regretable as there is so much vibrancy in the life of the community. The further development of your natural woodland heritage will give Cratloe a greater profile and make it a visitor destination.

2021 Adjudication report

Centre:    Cratloe - An Chreatalach    Ref:  2059

County:   Clare                                   Mark:  237

Category:  B                                       Date(s):  06/08/2021

                                        Max      Mark

Community - Your Planning          60           32

Streetscape & Public Places        60           32

Green Spaces and Landscaping  60           30

Nature and Biodiversity                50           27

Sustainability                                50           12

Tidiness and Litter Control           90           50

Residential Streets & Housing      50           27

Approach Roads, Streets             50           27

TOTAL MARK                              470         237

Community – Your Planning and Involvement / An Pobal - Pleanáil agus Rannpháirtíocht:

Cratloe - An Chreatlach 2059 Clare B 32 Fáilte Chuig Comórtas na mBailte Slachtmhara Super Valu 2021. Táimid buíoch daoibh as ucht na hiontrála a chur chugainn. Go raibh maith agaibh as ucht bhur dtacaíocht le linn na paindéime.

Lean leis an dea-obair. Thank you for participating In Ireland’s longest-running environmental project and helping to make Ireland a better place. We really appreciate all the great work that you do and the effort you put in, year on year.

 

Speaking of effort, it’s clear that an awful lot went into this, your first ever entry to Tidy Towns. Welcome Cratloe! For a first go, this is a great piece of work. It’s very easy to read and it’s clear that you’re well organised. You’re well-supported too with a goodly list of organisations and funding schemes that you can list. Your priority projects for your inaugural year are the Cratloe Community Plan (2021-2023), the launch of Cratloe Tidy Towns this last March and the Biodiversity Training Course with Clare Local Development Company. Of this last, more later. We really enjoyed looking through some of the videos that you have posted. The Covid-19 Heritage walkabouts were excellent. It was really interesting to see how your Community Development Plan evolved too.

 

Some suggestions for your entry form next year: if you can, see if you can include relevant photographs within the text pertinent to the category. We acknowledge that you’ve provided ample photographs and reference same in the text but having them It helps us readers to visualise and assess. Page numbers would also be an addition. These are little things but they do help. Do please be aware that the Tidy Towns competition is bound up with sustainability and we are asking participants to identify where they believe their work and initiatives meet particular Sustainable Development Goals. If you could make this clear in next year’s entry, that would be great.

Your maps are super and this adjudicator feels that were we in Cratloe, we’d be able to find everything no bother. It’s good to read of your enthusiasm for Tidy Towns and that you can already see progress ‘on the ground.’

Streetscape & Public Places / Sráid-Dreach & Áiteanna Poiblí:

Your first year and you already have much to report on in this category. One of your more significant buildings – St. John’s Church and walls have been painted by your Tús crew, fair play to them. This is one of the few ‘barn churches’ still extant and is a lovely piece of heritage for you to be looking after. Another piece of history is your grotto which you are also managing. There are indeed too mnay projects here for the adjudicator to list but just to pick out a few stand-outs: the pedestrian crossing is a really important addition which will be of benefit to many different users; the railway wall is a built heritage item too and you are keeping this visible; age and ability-friendly parking for the church is a work in progress. All great. By now you’ll be well-versed in the biodiversity considerations of projects such as vegetation clearance from walls and grave markers, but do bear these in mind, please. The adjudicator wasn’t aware of the wedge tomb at Craughaun Graveyard and has put this on the things to see list.

Green Spaces and Landscaping / Spásanna Glasa agus Tírdhreachú:

Another busy category here for Cratloe and it’s good to see the words ‘pollinator’ and ‘native’ appear here so frequently. Indeed, these are literally buzz words in any landscaping or planting projects that you might find yourselves embarked upon. Thank you for all the photographs supplied to inform this category assessment. You do have some extensive green areas. Low-Mow is the way to be thinking with these. Your lodestone should be the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan for management of areas such as these. It’s regrettable that there isn't the opportunity to see these areas and comment on them but you’ve access to some biodiversity and horticultural expertise, thanks to the Clare Local Development Company project, so we’d advise you to make use of this to the fullest.

Nature and Biodiversity in your Locality / An Dúlra agus an Bhithéagsúlacht i do cheantar:

You set the scene well in this category with a description of your setting and environs. However, we’d advise that you state in future entries that Cratloe is only a km or so from an important designated site. This site is the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation. There is also Garrannon Wood a proposed Natural Heritage Area that is immediately adjacent your village. The latter of these might be of interest to your Woodland Group. This last sub-committee is a great idea, by the way. Especially as you seem to have much to do in Cratloe Wood – a really great resource for your community. Thank you for your account of your work here, though. Another idea for you might be managing long clearings in the wood (‘rides’) for butterflies. You could then record these (and other) species on the National Biodiversity Data Centre database. Thanks for the details of your plans for areas such as the railway bridge. You’re getting good advice and doing things in a systematic way which is great.

Sustainability – Doing more with less / Inmharthanacht - Mórán ar an mbeagán:

Yet another strong first entry in this category, Cratloe. Your first two projects are on how you’ve upskilled via webinar on alternative energy and energy efficiency. Great. The third project here is a very interesting one – a community solar farm project, no less. The adjudicator hadn’t heard of this initiative which could be a game-changer for Cratloe. Keep us informed. You also hope to have electric car charging at the Community Centre soon. A new project for you is a composting area near the grotto and you hope to improve this further. Very good.

Tidiness and Litter Control / Slachtmhaireacht agus Rialú Bruscair:

Thank you for a very clear entry here. You benefit from the assistance of Clare County Council’s Litter Warden in your ongoing anti-litter efforts. You tell us about your actions on a troublesome blackspot at Gallows Hill and a considerable voluntary effort has gone into this. Fair play. On a day-to-day basis you have very regular litter-picks and the Woodland Group have the brilliantly-named Woodpicker Week wherein volunteer visitors can help to play their part. You carry out weed control without resort to herbicides and that is great. As mentioned before, approach vegetation clearance from walls and structure with caution. You report that businesses are on your side and that’s a great start.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas / Sráideanna Cónaithe & Ceantair Tithíochta:

You tell us that the residents of Aisling Court maintain their grassy area approaching their estate. You could let us know if you can persuade them toward a Low-Mow regime as per the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. Ditto the grass verges of Wood Road. You tell us also that you are planning to consult with local residents on maintaining their area and adjacent roadsides. Be sure that you bring the pollinator message to these discussions too.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes / Bóithre Isteach, Sráideanna & Lánaí:

You’ve lots to discuss in this category too. Some of these areas we have already discussed (e.g. for biodiversity). Again though, it’s good to see the words biodiversity and native appearing in this category and that herbicide use is discouraged. The adjudicator has always felt that Cratloe could perhaps ‘announce itself’ more. Have you considered commissioning the design of bespoke name signs for the village? Perhaps with a logo that reflects some of the history of Cratloe or perhaps represents the community spirit here? No doubt you’ve thought about this already.

Concluding Remarks:

What a great first entry to Tidy Towns, Cratloe! We’re very pleased to have you in the competition and a dynamic new partner in a movement toward sustainability that is gathering pace. Just so you know, with a start like this, great things are expected of you.

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