294 MARKS (285 IN 2018) Community – Your Planning and Involvement
Welcome Donard and many thanks for your comprehensive entry form and your clear hand drawn map. Your community shop and cafe are evidence enough of wonderful community spirit in Donard. Well done on the effort needed to keep these premises open. Your community must be so grateful for these facilities especially as they are sadly lacking in other villages in this beautiful part of the country. Your committee is small but you achieve a lot and clearly have good support from residents, local businesses and public bodies. I love your Tidy Towns’ motto ‘No one can do everything but everyone can do something’ – it encapsulates perfectly what we are all about.
Streetscape and Public Places
For a small village, Donard features a great variety of beautiful buildings from lovely cottages to an ancient church to Georgian farmhouses to two currently functional church buildings. There is lots to catch the eye of the wandering visitor. We loved the bicycle and flower pots brightening up the old petrol pump outside Moynihan’s! Well done on your work on the ‘Statue Garden’ this year. You used lots of pollinator-friendly plants in the actual flowerbed and they were graced by lots of butterflies, hoverflies and bumblebees on adjudication day. You had some annuals, begonias and petunias in pots and the bed underneath the green place-sign. These are showy and colourful but unfortunately are of no food value to pollinators. Our pollinator species populations are in such trouble in Ireland that it is incumbent on all to provide as much food and habitats for them as possible. TidyTowns groups all over Ireland have a huge role to play in this by ensuring lots of flowers are planted in their public places. Perhaps next year you could plant these areas with plants listed in the excellent ‘Pollinator Planting Code’ freely available at www.pollinators.ie/ resources where you’ll find all sorts of help and inspiration for all kinds of planting. Indeed, it was noticeable on adjudication day how the pollinator species were very busy at your Statue Garden where you have pollinator friendly planting but none were seen at the petunias or begonias! The small green name signs are a nice feature pointing out areas of interest. Pursue your plans to have information boards erected about these places of interest. The board on the Baltinglass road across from the school is badly in need of updating and was so tatty it was hard to read which is a shame.
Green Spaces and Landscaping
As mentioned above, you carried out great work on the Statue Garden and use of the Pollinator Planting Code will guide you in future planting projects. Also the High Spout was admired with its show of bold red flowers looking good against the stonework. There is scope here for a bigger planter on the right side of the spout against the wall and an opportunity to add some more pollinator planting from the list mentioned above. This planting code list will also be very helpful in your future project at the Handball Alley. Might this be a good spot to plant a Community Herb Garden as it will be easily accessible and so many herb plants are pollinator friendly, colourful and smell great! Good examples are: rosemary, thyme, chives, sage, fennel, borage etc.
Nature and Biodiversity in your Locality
Your beautiful stonewalls both in and around the village were admired. Many supported several species of wildflower with the lovely native Sedum species Stonecrop blooming on adjudication day. It is great to know that you treasure these lovely features which add so much character to your locality. As noted above please refer to the Pollinator Planting Code for future planting projects and future adjudicators can look forward to colourful pollinator-friendly planting. We spotted the bug hotel at the school and well done on their Green Flag which was proudly displayed – although a new flag should be requested as the current one has got very frayed by the Wicklow mountain winds!
Sustainability – Doing more with less
Your Willow Wastewater treatment system sounds very interesting. The willow plantation was admired from the other side of the GAA pitch but if possible supply next year’s adjudicator with some more information about how this project which sounds eminently sustainable is working for Donard. If working well it is one that we would hope to see replicated in lots of other places around the country. You didn’t mention it but does your community café encourage people to use re-usable cups? Do you use compostable cups for take-away drinks? You may be doing this already but haven’t informed us? Next year’s adjudicator will be happy to hear about it.
Tidiness and Litter Control
Donard and its surroundings were very tidy and litter free on adjudication day. Well done on all the work that has gone in to maintain these high standards! The Pure Mile project is a wonderful concept and working very well all over Co Wicklow – well done Donard on your Pure Mile projects too.
Residential Streets and Housing Areas
Great to see the new houses blending in so well to your village streetscape. There is only a small number of derelict houses left now and hopefully they will be renewed in the coming years. Your village centre had a very vibrant feel on adjudication day with the shop and café looking busy as well as the nearby campsite and children out playing in Palladius Park.
Approach Roads, Streets and Lanes
The lovely stone walls on your approach roads were mentioned above. They are a great local feature so keep looking after them as well as you are! Just a word of caution about trimming ivy – treat ivy like a good haircut – a short back and sides. It’s a vitally important plant for providing food in the form of pollen, nectar and berries in the late autumn and winter in Ireland as well as providing shelter and hibernation for many species over the winter.
Donard is a beautiful spot – a village of great character nestled into the Wicklow Mountains. Keep up your great work looking after it and its residents and we look forward to our next visit.
The Blessington volunteers managed to an an extra 12 marks to their tally this year.