Some of the Limerick Leader staff head out for the TLC
THE FAINT outline of three hi-vis jackets at the end of a straight, but mysterious grassy Irish boithrin had a magical quality to it when it was captured in photo form and then tweeted last Friday.
In the background, the Ballyhoura Mountains stood majestic, tall and proud.
Former Fair City actress Maeve McGrath was out with her dogs Milo and Molly when she came upon a group of young children, doing their bit to preserve the enchanting landscape in which they live.
“The kids in the photo are a family from near me in Ardpatrick way. I was cleaning in Monine, Ardpatrick, with my dogs! I took their photo on the way back. They looked so busy against the Ballyhoura backdrop,” Maeve explained.
Maeve, Milo, Molly and their young friends were, of course, taking part in TLC3, Europe’s biggest ever one-day clean-up which took place across Limerick city and county last Friday.
The picturesque and almost eerie scene in the Ballyhoura Mountains was just one of hundreds of powerful vignettes which emerged over a four-hour period on Friday morning.
A total of 68 tonnes of litter was collected, which would equate to 2,600 household wheelie bins, according to Joe Cleary of Mr Binman, one of the sponsors.
Collection crews from Mr Binman travelled over 1,200 kms on Good Friday with 244 individual locations in the city and county.
Feedback from group leaders was that they covered the same areas but there was less litter than in previous years - so the message is getting through.
Proceedings began at Pery Square in the city where a major search operation had swung into action from early morning – to locate a hi-vis vest big enough to span the broad shoulders of one Paul O’Connell.
“It’s getting better and better and bigger and bigger every year,” commented the Limerick man at Pery Square where volunteers joined TLC3 instigators JP McManus and Helen O’Donnell, and friends, to recreate the famous Beatles Abbey Road Album cover to begin the massive event.
“We are giving around 9,000 people teas, coffees and hot cross buns afterwards,” Paul added.
While Paul’s little girl Lola, 2, was too small to have any major role in the clean-up, her brother Paddy, 7, took part with mum Emily at Monaleen GAA club.
“Lola will want to be doing something – anything Paddy does, she wants to do it so she will probably be doing some bit of work alright,” Paul smiled.
With the formalities over, the rugby giant headed off with Mr McManus and other volunteers for a whistle-stop tour of TLC centres in the city, including Limerick prison. Over the next three hours they patted gorgeous Golden Labrador pups on the head, high-fived enlivened boys and girls and kissed grandmothers who were generous with their time. In all, over 16,500 people took to the streets of Limerick city and county.
TLC3 is sponsored by the JP McManus Benevolent Fund and is co-ordinated by Limerick City and County Council and partnered by The Limerick Leader, Limerick’s Live 95FM and Mr Binman.
Again, this year, Leader staff were out in force – focusing their attention on the Catherine Street and Davis Street area. Along the footpaths and behind the railings were lots of crisp bags and other trash including beers cans, a soggy white sock, the remains of a hair dryer and cigarette butts, lots of cigarette butts.
“Make sure you mention the cigarette butts in your piece – they’re everywhere,” shouted one Leader reporter, with picker in hand.
As well as having the largest number of volunteers, this year also saw the largest ever tea/coffee gatherings for volunteers which were hosted at over 300 hundred locations throughout the county. These took place in people’s homes, community and sports centres and schools where over 9000 people attended.
Commenting at the big event, JP McManus said; “The number of volunteers this year has exceeded all expectations and we are absolutely delighted with the turnout. For me, TLC has become synonymous with Good Friday and being part of the occasion gives me enormous pride. With over 9,000 people joining friends and neighbours for a cup of tea afterwards, it has become far more than a clean-up, but a way of developing a great community spirit in localities around Limerick.
He added; “The entire event is a huge community effort from the people of Limerick and we want to thank each and every one of them for taking part.”