Helen picks up award for spearheading Limerick city’s clean-up challenge

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

THE CHAIRPERSON of Limerick Tidy Towns, Helen O’Donnell, has been named the person of the month for spearheading a major drive to clean up Limerick City.

THE CHAIRPERSON of Limerick Tidy Towns, Helen O’Donnell, has been named the person of the month for spearheading a major drive to clean up Limerick City.

The concept of entering Limerick as a city into the Tidy Towns competition was introduced by Ms O’Donnell who is leading the way on improving the look of the urban landscape.

“It is an honour to be nominated and it is an honour I gratefully accept on behalf of the Limerick Tidy Towns group,” said Ms O’Donnell at the award presentation at the Clarion Hotel this week.

“I cannot give enough praise to the volunteers who came out each week to pick litter, clean graffiti and tackle weeds as part of the city centre Tidy Towns initiative. We got a lot of work done and had great fun doing it.”

Over the past six months, a group of 100 volunteers including business people, retailers and members of the public have been working diligently in a bid to brighten up the overall appearance of the city centre.

And while it is only the early stages of a three year programme, according to Ms O’Donnell they have already made “huge strides” in terms of tidying up the city streets. “We have achieved quite a bit and we have got quite a lot of people motivated. We feel we have made progress but it is all about Limerick and making it a nicer place to live in. It’s important to remember we are only six months into the first year of a three year Tidy Towns programme. There is plenty more to do. New volunteers are always welcome so if there are people out there running a business, living or working in the city, we would love their help.”

The Tidy Towns group which has a core committee of 10 members have been engaging with a long list of local organisations including Limerick City Council, Limerick Chamber of Commerce, Limerick Local Heroes, I Love Limerick and the JP McManus Foundation in their clean-up endeavours. Dulux have also lent their support and several buildings on O’Connell Street are being given a fresh lick of paint as part of the initiative. “Dulux is sponsoring the paint. We have around 21 buildings in the city waiting to be painted - all on O’Connell Street. The idea was to start there and progress through the city. A number of painters have offered their help and on the back of that we are able to pay to have some other buildings painted,” explained Ms O’Donnell who runs the café in the Hunt Museum.

As part of the project, work has been carried out on Georgian buildings in the city and clean-ups have been taking place twice weekly in the city. Such is the enthusiasm for the initiative that some areas have even formed their own smaller, community groups. While weeds are proving to be a thorn in the volunteers’ sides over the summer months, looking to the future the big issues are dog fouling and the maintenance of city basements.

“If you walk up O’Connell Street and look into the basements there are an awful lot of really badly kept basements,” said Ms O’Donnell who is also chairperson of Limerick City Business Association.

The Ballysheedy resident who is married to former MEP, Tom O’Donnell, and has one son Thomas, says her enthusiasm to clean-up the city is motivated by nothing other than a desire to see the area she loves and lives in, looking its best.

“I’m doing this for Limerick, I have no ulterior motive. If I had wanted to go into politics I would have done that 20 years ago. I am very proud of Limerick City and that is a sentiment I share with the rest of the volunteers on the Tidy Towns group - we want Limerick looking good for ourselves and good for our visitors.” The Tidy Towns group can be followed on www.facebook.com/LimerickTidyTown. The Limerick Person of the Month award is sponsored by the Limerick Leader, the Clarion Hotel and Southern.