Clonmel is preparing to put on a show for Entente Florale

Eamonn Wynne

Eamonn Wynne

Walls will be painted, the sound of grass-cutting will become an even more familiar one and hanging baskets will decorate the town when Clonmel puts on its finest appearance to represent Ireland in the Entente Florale competition this summer.

The competition, which began in 1975 as a small floral competition between France and Great Britain, has evolved into Europe’s most prestigious environmental and horticultural competition.

Twelve countries from all over Europe participate and Clonmel, which last represented Ireland in 1987, was chosen on the back of its strong showing in the national Tidy Towns competition in recent years.

“It’s a great honour for the town to be chosen. We’ve been selected as a result of our good performance in last year’s Tidy Towns competition when we achieved gold medal status for the fourth year in-a-row”, says Frank O’Donoghue, secretary of the Tidy Towns Committee.

Judging will take place on a date yet to be announced and the formal planning for the event begins next week when the Tidy Towns convenes a meeting. The Entente Committee will include representatives of Tidy Towns as well as Clonmel Borough Council, the County Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Traders Association and other groups and organisations. And a massive effort will also be needed from the people of the town.

“Everyone’s hoping that the competition will show Clonmel in its best light. The people of the town did a great job the last time and we’re confident they’ll support the event again this year”, says Frank O’Donoghue.

Adjudicators will spend a full day judging, followed by a private meeting for the jury members directly after the tour of the town. They will then meet some members of the committee for a discussion.

The town will be judged under a wide range of headings including its natural environment, built environment, cleanliness and tidiness, landscape, open green spaces, permanent and seasonal planting, effort and involvement, planned and developed approach, tourism and leisure and presentation.

“There’s a lot more to it than just picking up litter”, says Mr. O’Donoghue.

As part of the adjudication process the Entente Committee will be required to give a 40-45 minutes PowerPoint presentation. Once the judging has concluded there will be a gala dinner in the evening for the jury and committee.

The results of the adjudication will be announced at a prize-giving ceremony in September, with the date and location to be confirmed. All competing towns and villages are invited to attend.

The burden of financing the entry will be borne by the town although the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, which formally invited Clonmel to enter Entente Florale last November, will contribute towards the cost.

The competition is now organised and judged by the AEFP, the Association Europeenne pour le Fleurissement et le Paysage, or the European Association for Flowers and Landscape. This international non-profit association was founded in Brussels in 1996.

The Association’s overall aim is the social and cultural development and enhancement of the quality of life of urban dwellers.

“The competition will hopefully give us all a lift in these tough economic times”, Frank O’Donoghue said.