Here’s The Judges’ Report After Tralee Wins 10th Tidy Towns Gold Medal In A Row

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TRALEE won its 10th Tidy Towns Gold Medal in a row yesterday and in doing so upped their points tally on last year.

They were awarded 347 points, up nine on 2021’s total of 338 with an increase in almost every category (see table below).

Meanwhile, The Spa, Tralee received an Endeavour award in the national competition increasing its marks from 200 to 215.

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Killarney, Listowel and Kenmare also received gold medals. The Judges issued a comprehensive report on Tralee and excerpts from the various categories can be read below.


Streetscape & Public Places

With streets and roads radiating from the centre of Tralee the layout is one which is easy to navigate and so admire the modest vernacular architecture and the great Georgian and Victorian buildings which abound.

The beautiful neo-Gothic Holy Cross Priory with its red sandstone walls with ashlar detailing is a dominant structure on Prince’s Street.

Kerry County Museum terminates the vista along the attractive Georgian Denny Street. Elsewhere modest vernacular buildings nestle in with elaborate Georgian streetscapes giving Tralee a distinctive experience for the visitor.

Your most ambitious project ‘ever undertaken’ was the project management of eight murals which were funded by Creative Ireland.

These are indeed spectacular works of art and we compliment the artists involved. The one in Garvey’s carpark brightens up this otherwise utilitarian area.

These now add to other murals that are dotted around the town including those in the archway in Denny Street (which needs a little maintenance).

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Painting of utility boxes is something we have long advocated and we are delight that 4 have been included in this year’s work.

Hopefully this is the beginning of a project to paint all the strategically place utility boxes – following the necessary permissions being obtained.

We loved the idea your Christmas Window Competition as not only does it provide festive cheer along the streetscape it also provides a little gentle ‘competition’ between businesses – congratulations to the Kerry County Museum and Kerry Down Syndrome Shop.

Dereliction exists in practically every town and village and in Tralee we noted many many empty premises as we walked around.

It is good to see that some are occupied since the 2021 adjudication and hopefully this is the beginning of a revitalisation of the centre of the town.

The Tralee Town Centre Pavements Project was noted and the new pavement/public realm areas admired. We particularly look forward to the completion of the public realm area at the Island of Geese which is at an advanced state.

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Green Spaces and Landscaping

Having ‘The Green’, a town park of over 14 hectares in the middle of a town is wonderful and Tralee has benefited from the vision of the Denny family who created it in the 17th century.

The variety of manicured grass, wildflower areas, planting beds, trees, sculptures etc. makes it a park to please all.

As we walked around the park we met joggers, walkers, family groups, teenagers meandering, and dog walkers – all enjoying what the park has to offer.

The Rose Walk was particularly admired. Nearby Pearse Park with the Garden of Contemplation was also quite pleasant, although we noted poor maintenance of the planted areas including the rose garden beside the path.

We called to the Museum to collect the species spotter sheets to be told they hadn’t had them for a few years. We did however pick up Heritage Hunters, Tralee Town Park which is an interesting trail of the Park.

Throughout the parks and in other areas (e.g. along the entrance road to St. John’s Catholic Church) suckers were noted on trees and these should be removed from the base of trees and anywhere they appear along the trunk.

We called to the community garden in the park – the information panels surrounding the garden are almost entirely covered by growth.

There were quite a number of planting troughs/ containers which had either no planting whatsoever or token planting installed.

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Nature and Biodiversity in your Locality

The guided biodiversity and wildflower walks in the Town Park were well attended by the five secondary school and one primary school students.

We encourage this activity and hope that it becomes an annual event for the schools. We were delighted to read of other new projects this year under this category – native tree planting, the LAWPRO’s work, Cards from the Waterside, tree walks etc.

We note that chemical free weed spraying contractor has been appointed for Tralee – we did however note that chemicals have been used in a number of areas.  Hopefully this practice will have ceased next year

The apple trees and native choill beag planted by the secondary school students will take a few years to mature but what a wonderful initiative of LEAF and An Taisce.

The Tralee Bay Wetlands area is a wonderful haven to visit and we noted many of the the ‘Lakeside Residents’ when we visited.

The planting of 3,000 native trees by the Laharn and District residents’ association with be of great benefit to the wildlife in years to come.

Sustainability – Doing more with less

The installation of the water station in the town park was noted and its location not too far from the playground is admirable.

The Circular Economy: Cup to Earth project is commendable – at present in a pilot stage.

Self-watering hanging baskets are now the norm is most large centres and we read that Kerry County Council purchased 12 for distribution in Tralee.

We commend the students and teachers in the Secondary schools for the projects 30-day Challenge and Green is the new Black etc. It is wonderful when teachers are committed to sustainability as it plays a huge part in influencing programmes in schools – well done teachers.

Tidiness and Litter Control

We love the support that community groups and volunteers give when a County Wide Clean Uptakes place and this year you also had support of your new Ukrainian community.

The Neat Streets Town Takeover by students from all the secondary schools in January 2020 was an excellent idea. Having the Primary school children attend a Tralee MD meeting and talk about litter, based on their experience, is excellent – compliments to the teachers and students.

We are delighted that MTU were involved in Tralee Clean-Up and their work to the river will result in a cleaner aquatic system.

The liaison with the Tralee Lions Club and the weekly Sunday morning litter pickups is admirable.

Your volunteers, CE workers and various other organisations are also involved in the litter pick-ups and when we visited Tralee was relatively tidy and litter free.

The bring banks at Garvey’s carpark were emptied, clean and free from litter. The new litter/butt bins looked good – hopefully they will be well used by the smokers.

Weed growth is a problem and while we talk about leaving nature for the pollinators there are situations where weed growth should be removed – edges of streets, footpaths and areas where we, the pedestrians, use.

The tree guards in The Square have been used as bicycle racks (maybe that’s intended?) and paint is badly chipping.

Remember that signage is clutter and takes away from a streetscape or a beauty spot.

We noted five signs on one pole, seven on another and eleven individual signs/names/notices on the building in the scenic Wetlands Area – beyond your control we know, but maybe pass on advice for them to remove the signage clutter.

Signs can be painted on the ground and are equally successful.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas

There are a number of residential streets in Tralee which adds great value to the town as it ensures vibrancy when the businesses and shops have closed their doors for the day.

As we meandered around, we noted family groups, window shoppers, dog walkers, runners etc all enjoying Tralee’s quiet roads and streets.

Many properties were well presented – freshly painted and with planting tubs, window boxes or hanging baskets filled with colourful flowers and trailing plants.

Your CE workers help to maintain the communal areas of your many housing estates, but individual resident associations do their part in planting and tidying.

New footpaths have been installed in some areas which in time will blend in with existing paths. The area set aside for biodiversity by the Castlecountess residents is admirable.

The beautifully maintained communal spaces with feature planting beds and trees at Spring Well Gardens is a credit to the residents.

Natural stone walls (a haven for insect life) abound, behind which are many pollinator friendly gardens.

Some individual properties have made great efforts in their pollinator friendly planting – the yellow house with the red door and red gates on Castlecountess was one we particularly admired.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes

Kerry County Council and Tralee Municipal District have been busy with the installation of new footpaths, some road improvements, stabilising the road subsurface along the canal near Blenerville, and cutting the grass verge on approach roads – all admirable.

A town as big as Tralee with its large population and many many visitors needs this degree of maintenance and more.

In the centre of the town some footpaths were badly cracked, while others had poor repairs carried out – all need attention.

We note that areas in the town have been upgraded in recent years using quite expensive labour-intensive paving and we see this is also being carried out in the Island of Geese.

Tarmacadam repairs have been carried out to the dark limestone in The Square which is unacceptable – expensive paving materials were used and this type of repair detracts from the area.

In some residential areas edge break up entrance roads was noted which is also in urgent need of repair.

Road marking were also badly worn along a number of the streets and residential areas visited. We must assume that a programme of improvements is ongoing – but truthfully in some areas it is quite urgent.

We loved the Age Friendly and Disable Parking bays clearly marked. You have a number of pedestrian links between the streets and we loved the named archways into these e.g. Barrack Lane.

Some of these laneways are a little dull and the walls could be used for murals based of local facts / history / people of note associated with Tralee.

We noted the number of bike rack locations dotted around the town and while none were being used, we have no doubt that they are at times.

Cycleways begin and end at random – is there any plan to have these cycleways linked? Or are alternative plans being considered for the cyclist?

Carparking along Denny Street is on the inside of the cycleways which we found unusual – have there been any incidences of drivers opening their doors causing accidents?

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